Wednesday, November 26, 2014

More on Irrational Thinking

Rational thought is what mankind has that the rest of the animal kingdom doesn't have. It's our ability to collect data from our surroundings, process it with our minds, and make decisions which provides the impetus for acting. So far that's pretty much the same as the rest of the animals. However, our conscience is the true difference which separates us from the rest! Man has a moral compass. We know right from wrong and although we act on instincts, our conscience protects us from being our own worst enemies!

My belief is that man was created without full rational thought! Adam and Eve were born in innocence. They were as the proverbial "little children" of which Jesus spoke. With the sin of them both when they ate of  "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil", both lost their innocence. What they now had was "knowledge" and with that knowledge came "reason". With each behavior after that, a thought process occurs. Mankind reasons: "Is this bad or good? Is this in God's will? Will this prolong my life or not? Will this provide pleasure and will this create wealth?"

Instinctual brain process would only act on the principle of self-preservation and pleasure. Reason not only evaluates self-preservation, but also takes into account an evaluation of choices. That evaluation we do all the time is reason. We can choose to do things which do not preserve the "self" in favor of things which destroy the "self" When we choose to take the path to destruction, that's called sin!
Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned..."
Our capacity to process information in regard to self-preservation is called "reason". Reason is the loss of innocence. What does that imply? Reason, although of God, isn't in the best interest of men because we can make bad decisions. Reason is actually part of the curse!

 Think on that! If mankind had stayed innocent, all of us would be preserved. At the creation we were meant to be immortal. Death came because of sin. Now we all have the capacity to ignore that instinct of self-preservation and choose death.  We can choose pleasure, wealth and knowledge over eternal life. That sounds far-fetched, but there is one crucial decision we must always make: Shall we choose eternal life or eternal death? If we choose the latter, we are thinking irrationally because if we were truly wise, the sane choice would always be eternal life:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Most people who consider this choose death!
 Matthew 7:13 "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Jesus knew that mankind is irrational!  It takes an irrational mind to choose eternal death over eternal life, but yet most people will do just that. Most people are irrational and as such most are not sane because sane people are better than the animals: We have the capacity to choose self-preservation, but fail to preserve our selves; and animals actually choose self-preservation! Mankind, in our wisdom, is less wise than the animals! That's insanity!

People think irrationally when they make that one crucial wrong decision. However, irrational thinking doesn't stop there. People live in false worlds. Their world is a fiction. Let's first look at the extreme case.

Psychosis are those (psychotic) who have a mental illness because they believe things which are not true and act strangely. It is a mental illness because irrational thoughts is a disease of the mind. Something misfires in the synapses of the brain which creates the fiction. A common psychotic malfunction is paranoia. It's a false belief that others are trying to harm the person, dislike, laughing at or ridiculing the person. It can even be false suspicion. Many a wife has been murdered because a jealous husband acts on irrational thoughts!

This is the extreme, but "normal" people often show characteristics of "abnormal" behavior. Whereas, the jealous husband has built a fiction where he's excluded from the relationship and the perceived lovers have sex. In his mind there is sex and it's real, but it's only irrational thinking! Normal interaction between persons of the opposite gender creates a fiction in the husbands mind that becomes more fictional as each day passes until the husband is consumed with passions. Although a normal degree of jealousy is normal, even wise, being irrational is paranoia. We all have degrees of paranoia because at times we all are irrational in our thinking!

Our reason and thought processes are a battleground. Satan uses reason to defeat each one of us. Because truth isn't in our minds, the devil places deceptive thoughts in place of truth. The things of God are truth and irrational thoughts are planted by the bad gardener. Satan puts all types of bad thoughts in our minds which we are forced to process with our knowledge.
Romans 12:2 (ESV) "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
We're not alone in our ability to have "rational thought". God helps us if we let him! As can be seen from the previous passage, we are to test everything! Accurate testing is discernment. We correctly consider and apply scriptural truths in our thought processes.

As an example, if we are tempted to steal, we consider the act of stealing: Is it in God's will? Will it provide true pleasure? Do we really need the item? How will the victim feel? Can I steal and still  feel good with myself and will God still commune with me? Each of these thoughts will be processed (if one is rational) and usually the answer for the Christian will be: "I shall not steal. It's wrong!". That's discernment and an example of rational thinking. God transforms us to not conform to the standards of the world. He uses guilt and our conscious as check valves to help us preserve ourselves in the face of pleasure, wealth or knowledge!

Irrational people are much like the short story character, Walter Mitty. We actually live in the fiction created in our minds. However, Mitty's were grandiose whereas ours may be self-destructive! Fictional irrational thinking can create stress and we actually have the power to self-destruct. Animals can't do that, but we can! Worry is part of that self-destruction:
1 Peter 5:7 (ESV) "Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Irrational thinking is a sin because it's a choice. It's a misappropriation of the free will God gave us in order that we are capable of choosing righteousness! Still, most people choose the route to stress; the route to self-destruction. We are to take all our worries and give to God. He will take care of them! God will "guard our hearts". He is our protector!

At one time I lost nearly all my lifetime savings. I was stressed and worried to sickness. Although I still had a job and a good life, I became sick with my loss. I created a fiction where "poor me", "what shall I do now?"  I chose to think rationally because scripture has hope. I cast all my cares on God and now I'm not worried about those thousands of dollars I lost. Those thoughts are past and now I'm sane again!

The devil plays games in our minds using slight of hand, especially in God-ordained institutions. Satan will try to destroy our communion with God, our churches, our vocations, our families, our marriages and eventually our selves! The devil delights in our failures. God delights in our accepting what's real, what's truth. He delights in rational thought. It wasn't his will, but that's what he allowed! Since we have reason, we need to quit thinking irrationally!

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