Losing Our Ability to Reason

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“In the 1950s, kids lost their innocence. They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, lyrics and music that gave rise to a new term, ‘the generation gap.’ In the 1960s, kids lost their authority. It was the decade of protests. Church, state and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.

In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of nihilism, dominated by hyphenated words beginning with ‘self’—self-image, self-esteem, self-assertion. It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and few had the nerve to tell them that there was indeed a difference. In the 1980s, kids lost their hope. Stripped of innocence, authority and love, and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future.”

The previous description was written at the tail end of the 1980s. Somebody asked me now as a philosopher, if you were to add one more paragraph to that, what would you say has been lost in the 1990s? If there’s one thing I would say, it is that we have lost our ability to reason. The power of critical thinking has gone from induction to deduction and very few are able to think clearly anymore. I have often said the challenge of the truth speaker today is this: How do you reach a generation that listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings?

Excerpted from Ravi Zacharias, Address to the United Nations’ Prayer Breakfast.