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My mind's made up by the way that I feel

Last month the Times' front page screamed: "God did not create the universe" - reporting on the new book co-authored by Stephen Hawking in which he asserts a spontaneous creation.  What I most enjoyed about the piece was a ringing endorsement from Richard Dawkins.  Among other things he made this revealing comment:

“I know nothing of the details of the physics but I had always assumed the same thing.” (ht)

Isn't that brilliant?!

Actually that's how we all reason.  All of us.  All the time.  But it's hilarious to see it so plainly in Dawkins.

Here's a guy who claims to be a child of the Enlightenment, he doesn't know the details, he's in no way qualified to pass judgement, it's not even remotely his field, but he'd always assumed something like this must be right because it fits with some other stuff he also believes and is very much committed to... so... it floats his boat and he gives it his full assent (whatever it is, he's not entirely sure) and, carried away by the necessity of its truth, he wants you to be carried away by it too, that we might all give allegiance to this grand vision (whatever it is, let's not get too hung up on the details).

But you know what?  That's how we all "reason".

And it's not just inconsistent atheists.  It's just how human beings work.  Our hearts are captured by a bigger vision and our minds catch up.

Christians tend to hate the Wet, Wet, Wet line "My mind's made up by the way that I feel" - even as much as the song itself.  Many times I've heard preachers denounce such an idea - Our minds aren't made up by our feelings!  Or at least they shouldn't be.  Feelings don't boss us around.  Our minds need to tell our feelings where to get off.

Really?

Now "feelings" are indeed fickle things.  Perhaps even as fickle as thoughts!  So let's substitute "heart" for feelings.  And let's also acknowledge that our hearts should not be given free rein.  Something certainly needs to control our hearts.  But that the something is God's Word.  That's what shapes the heart.  And the heart shapes the thinking.  (Gen 6:5ff; Prov 4:23; Matt 12:34; Matt 15:19; Heb 4:12).

That feels right to me anyway.  What do you think?  And why?

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0 thoughts on “My mind's made up by the way that I feel

  1. Bird Brain

    I think: it must be amazing to be so sure of self to declare such a thing (what Dawkins said)
    Because: It must be such a comfort for you when nothing you hear/see makes no sense to you, you MUST be right, surely?

    NOT!
    (Poor man.)

  2. Tim Cairns

    I feel that giving credit to wet wet wet for love is all around, given its a cover version of a song by Reg Presley and the Troggs, is just what is wrong with the modern world, or it proves your just a child of the 90s and everything before 1990 doesn't matter in fact its rubbish, in which case your from the post modern world.

  3. John B

    Very glad that you spotted this! You've provided a very keen and timely insight on Dawkins—and all of us, whether in Christ or apart from Him! God created humans as His composition of mind and heart.

    God's Word recreates the heart, destroying the old, dead, stony heart, and replacing it with a new heart of living flesh. So now the mind is renewed and transformed by the lifeblood that flows to it through the new heart.

    And God's Word accomplishes all of this because the Logos is the medium of the Holy Spirit, whose power is limitless! So, ultimately, the kind of hearts and minds that we have results from the Spirit that dwells within us.

    To paraphrase Dawkins and Glen syncretisticly: "I know nothing of the details of the [meta]physics", but my heart is captured by a bigger vision and my mind is trying to catch up!

    "Lift up your hearts!” “We lift them up to the Lord!”

  4. Bror Erickson

    I definitely think that the danger is great and we all succumb to it at different times and to different degrees.
    But then I believe it is a danger that can be overcome to varying degrees also.
    In today's world though there is a tendency to believe that feelings are the end of the road. Athiests chase liver shivers as much as anyone else. And I think this is a particular danger in many halls of Christendom. There is a tendency to mistake the Holy Spirit for a liver shiver, or indigestion.
    I was brought up to distrust feelings. Well, as much as they can be distrusted. It seems to me most today are taught that is all they have. I for one am glad my parents instilled in me a few checks for my feelings anyway. I'd be in jail or a whore house right now if they hadn't. Just saying. Probably my sixth marriage rather than my second.
    Some of those checks where religion and Christianity is concerned is a blog like this where people can get together to hash out what they believe and why, where they get what they have from scripture. Maybe exposes preconceived notions we take to the text. That and constant study of God's word.

  5. pgjackson

    I think that the mind is often actually part of the heart in the bible, hence the Genesis 6:5ff, but also too some of what we mean by 'feelings' too. stuff. The heart has thoughts and inclinations, desires etc.

    So the wet, wet, wet thing is still probably pretty naff, by and large.

  6. Si

    I was going to say something similar - the heart envelops thinking in the Bible - it's lower down that is purely feelings - gut feelings, liver shivers and so on.

    I remember Don Carson doing a quick couple of minutes video on it...

    ...I can't find it, but I found this: http://undercovertheologian.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/in-the-night-also-my-kidneys-instruct-me/
    that talks about it instead.

    Interestingly the TV practise of shooting people in the chest and them not dying until you shoot them in the head is falling out of use (last time I saw a middle of the chest shot, with no vest, that didn't kill the person was on that modernist romp that was 24) - modernistic rationalism is almost dead at the pop culture level.

    Feelings are becoming, culturally, a real part of us once more and not a spiritual one (yes, under modernism, anti-knowledge is gnostic). In fact it's almost gone the other way - why bother with that thinking stuff, what you feel is what is really real.

    The head should inform the heart, which should inform the head - thinking and feelings should influence each other. Taking a recent example - I was in a tent meeting the other week, and we started singing a song that had the chorus "I am my beloved's and he is mine" - that didn't stir up my feelings at all to begin with, but as my brain worked through the words, linking to what I had heard earlier that week as I listened to some of the Mike Reeves talks from Forum, I spotted that it was a verse from the Song and worked my way through what was said on that verse, so that on the second or third time through singing it I was singing it with feeling, thanks to my thoughts informing my feelings "heh, this is a great truth - I'm united to Jesus - we are each others' - what's his is mine" and my feelings replied "Jesus is so lovely, he's the beloved, remember that".*

    As far as I can see, having feelings affecting thinking, but not the other way around is the same mistake as the reverse. And obviously God's word should inform them both (none of this "well the men in suits talked a lot of sense, and my bosom burns, therefore they must be right" nonsense). Not having a conversation between them is to either divorce them or to have one as way more important than the other. Oh, and they can call out each other on going against God's word.

    *Given that they spent at least ten minutes singing this chorus, with instrumentals and so on - I mean I had time to read the whole of the Song, reflecting and so on on the word, during it - I'm very glad that I had heard the .mp3 and my brain functions the way it does - systematically, giving a complex chain of linked things (though you probably aren't if you have got this far - well done!), else I would have been, at best, bored out my mind, at worst fuming about the 'Jesus is my boyfriend song' going on and on and on.

    PS - found the Carson talk. Now I remember the section being extracted out, but here's the whole 65 minutes http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/04/14/carson-on-the-scholar-as-pastor/

  7. Glen

    Agreed that the Troggs/Wet, Wet, Wet haven't exactly captured it by opposing "mind" and "feelings" but do we basically think that biblical reasoning runs along these sorts of lines:

    "Our hearts are captured by a bigger vision and our minds catch up."

    The enmity of the 'mind' in Paul is very striking (Col 1:21; Rom 8:7; 2 Cor 4:4). The unbeliever has a blinded mind until God shines the Light of the Word into our hearts to give us true "knowledge" (2 Cor 4:6).

    The Word is of course very much rational - the definition of true rationality - but its a rationality that escapes the blinded mind and must, by divine power, go to the heart in order to give us true knowledge.

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