By Akin Ojumu

Reasoning and instinct are not mutually exclusive. By reasoning alone shall no man succeed, and a man who relies solely on his instincts is one bound to fail miserably. For a man to be whole, his instinct must be leavened by sound reasoning, and his logical mind (reasoning) must be guided by his intuition (instinct).

Philosophers tend to believe that we can think our way to a moral answer; that logic and careful reasoning are enough to show us the truth. But given that human values are so tied up with our intuitions (instincts), perhaps an overly rational approach can lead us down a path of error.

Our instincts can lead us astray. But nothing would truly matter were it not for our deeply felt, potentially irrational, emotional responses. The problem that we must all face is how to best allow such intuitions to be subject to sound and logical reasoning.

Instinct and reasoning are branches of the same tree, the root of which derives its nourishment from the soil of our soul. When the soil is dark and evil, the branches are supplied with noxious and unsavory sustenance that flows from the root. Our instinct and reason overflow from our hearts, and they are evidence of the health or sickness of our souls. A tree is known by the fruits is produces; a good tree produces good fruits, while a bad tree will always produce bad fruits. So, it is with our instinct and reasoning.

“Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

For sound reasoning to temper the intuition, the heart must first be transformed by the Holy Spirit and the mind renewed continually by the Word of God. The result is a man whose heart and mind are guarded by the Holy Spirit. Such a man is steadfast in spirit, pure in heart, and his delight is in the Lord.

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil. 1 Thessalonians 5: 19-22 (The Message Bible).

In today’s Christianity, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, a fierce war rages against any form of reasoning. Contrary to God’s direct instruction to “test – i.e. examine, scrutinize, question, query – everything,” the Church promotes a toxic agenda of faith that cannot and must not be tested. An impenetrable wall has been built to shield religious customs, doctrines, rites and rituals from those curious and bold enough to ask legitimate questions about the origin, soundness, and legitimacy of those practices. 

For a variety of reasons, religious leaders seem content in holding their followers confined to a response to faith that is based purely on emotions and devoid of careful and thoughtful considerations. They would like us to think that giving human beings a brain was the greatest mistake made by God in the creation of man. They have added an 11th to the 10 Commandments, "Thou Shalt Not Think." According to these people, thinking is sinning, to think is to sin, and to sin is to be eternally damned.

Yet, we know that a faith that cannot be tested is a faith that is not deeply rooted, fruitless, and will eventually wither and die. A man afraid to have his belief challenged is a man who has no faith in what they believe. These are those described in the Parable of the Sower as seeds that fell by the wayside and among rocks, without understanding and lacking depth.

Those certain of what they believe will, according to 1 Peter 3:15,

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…”

And such a person will,

“…do this with gentleness and respect…”

Such individuals give due diligence to, and laboriously immersed themselves in, the Word of God and in the process develop the skill and expertise to intricately fit the various pieces of God’s truth together to form a complete and perfect whole.

The Church is in desperate need of such individuals. May God raise up men and women in the Church who will bring it back to His truth and make the His people whole again.

This write-up borrowed copiously from the article, " An Oxford philosopher’s moral crisis can help us learn to question our instincts" by Olivia Goldhill published in Quartz.


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