Book Review: Escape from Reason

Truth has always been compatible with reason, especially the law of non-contradiction, i.e., something cannot be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same way.  But the concept of truth has changed over the last few centuries. The result is that we as a society are not able to reason well anymore.  And therefore, we are unable to understand and explain why our society is so fragile emotionally.

 

College campuses, for example, used to be places where students were challenged to learn; now they are places where they are coddled and offered “safe spaces” so their fragile selves can learn to justify their “rights” to do whatever they want no matter how empty it leaves them feeling.  As a culture, we have more and more stuff, more affluence than any society has ever enjoyed in the history of the world.  And yet more foundational relationships are being fractured and our corporate mental and emotional health is at an all-time low.  Why is this?

 

Francis Schaeffer, in his book Escape From Reason, gives us an overview of how Western societies got to where they are today.  When one does not believe in divine revelation as the basis for what is true, then one is ultimately left with living life AS IF something ultimate were true while believing that everything is simply the impersonal result of time and chance. There is no such thing as truth, or beauty, or love except as they may exist in the eye of the beholder. There is only the obscure and relative experience of longing for those things and the despair that comes when those longings remain unfulfilled. 

 

I am reading through The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer and found this little book very helpful even though it is several decades old.  Schaeffer was well ahead of his time as well as sagely insightful into the times in which he lived.  While the dressing has changed a bit since his death in 1984, the substance of our problems sure hasn’t.

 

If you have become culturally fluent in “Christianeze” and would like to beef up your “bird’s eye view” of why unbelievers around you think the way they do, then slowly read this book. Take notes both physically and mentally.  Schaeffer is a fantastic thinker but not a really good writer in my opinion so you'll need to work at following his train of thought through this book. For all the work it takes though, it will help you understand and communicate accurately with those around you who look so much like you but think so differently than you.