Reason steers, faith moves


The world has long known that the clockwise roll of the wobbly wheel on which the fates and fortunes of men are borne depends much on the sway of faith and reason, the golden power couple of our universe. Reason steers that wheel, but it is faith alone that moves it.


For some mysterious reason, it is the curse of nature that most of us will not possess both faith and reason in potent proportions. People of great faith are almost always lacking in reason, while people possessed of great powers of reason often suffer from a pitiful lack of faith. So it always happens that people of great faith can move the world but cannot steer it, while people possessed of great powers of reason excel at steering the world but are hopeless at moving it.


An eloquent historical demonstration of this fact played out before the world’s eyes at the dawn of global exploration in the sixteenth century. For a thousand years before that, men had applied their powers of reason to figure out what plights and sights awaited the sailor who set off westwards from Europe on a straight-line sail right through the horizon. Before the Ancient Greeks, all great minds who applied themselves to this question were agreed that such a sailor would surely fall off the edge of the earth right into a bed of frightful monsters; then from their time onwards, right up to the sixteenth century, would-be adventurers were deterred, first, by the unknown expanse of ocean that had to be crossed to terra firma where supplies could be replenished and, secondly, by the dearth of knowledge about ocean currents and trade winds that could aid progress across the Atlantic Ocean to their destinations. And so for a thousand years, terror-stricken sailors hugged their shores, afraid to wander off far into the oceans where the mirage of the sea edge stood. This paralysis was the effect of excessive reliance on reason, and littered the face of the earth with stunted civilizations. Then came the great explorers Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus, and Ferdinand Magellan, all men of great faith.


Driven by winds and faith, Columbus sailed westwards from Spain in 1492 right into the forbidding mix of darkness and myth that still hung stubbornly over the Atlantic Ocean. In his memorable words, “For the execution of the voyage to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics, or maps”. Hear that! What a tale of faith! Magellan was to emulate him seventeen years later. Sailing out from Spain in 1519 in the first-ever attempt at circumnavigation of the earth, his mission stuck doggedly to their odyssey for three long years at the end of which their ship, which had departed Europe laden with fruit and fresh water, returned laden with fresh truth and proof for doubters that still lingered on the face of the earth that far from being flat, the world was indeed round and there were no waterfalls nested in its oceans. So by these strokes of indomitable faith, Columbus and Magellan had in less than two dozen years moved the world from the age of isolation to the age of exploration, a feat that had eluded men of reason for a thousand years. The age of exploration has now moved to outer space, and so have its hobgoblins. The sailor in the heavens like the mariner of old is harried by the spectre of sailing into a falls in the remote reaches of space—not a water falls but a space falls nested in his course as a Black Hole. A future Columbus—flesh or robot—shall one distant day report to history the slaying of this monster in a feat accomplished by flights of faith.


Like the sages before Columbus, many of us spend our lives deterred from venturing forth and claiming our fortune by monsters that are the creation of our powers of reason. And for many of us, this paralysis lasts a lifetime. How sad! There is a simple reason why we suffer so: our education system only teaches us the ways of reason but not the ways of faith because its architects little understood that while reason steers a man, it is faith alone that moves him. So they all failed to appreciate that the purpose of an education must be to engender reason in our minds and faith in our hearts. Consequently, the only men of faith and reason in our midst are those who were born with the gift of faith or went out of their way to cultivate it in themselves. It is such people who drive and steer the world.

(To learn how to build yourself into a person of faith, see my book The Success Genome Unravelled:




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