The Great Courses

Reason Doesn't Make Us Robots

Jun 14, 2016 at 9:02 AM
2 years ago

I get so tired of comments section warriors declaring that some of my more emotive pieces are "religious" because they incorporate an appeal to the heart.
In their minds, we should all be machines, quickly chomping data points from an isolated perch on Mount Seleya, cordoning off whole sections of our humanity.
Two things:
1) It's perfectly fine to have feelings in regard to the things we think about.
2) The church pastors are often really good at emotive storytelling, but they didn't invent it, they don't own it, and they don't negate the power of it simply because they're using storytelling tools to sell bad ideas.
Storytelling isn't preaching or (necessarily) heart-over-head manipulation.
As long as our feelings aren't driving the vehicle, as long as they serve to provide color for the outlines painted reasonably, and as long as they're kept in check, they're a healthy part of the human condition, and they can draw us toward a greater connection with ideas, facts, places and people.
It's a good thing Carl Sagan didn't toss the poetry in his work... the emotive, rich, heartfelt and impassioned language, cadences and inflection that positively impacted so many. His storytelling ability was key in helping important ideas resonate in the bones of his readers, listeners and viewers, and it made them all the more powerful.
Can you imagine "Pale Blue Dot" as mere bullet points?  Neither can I.
-Seth Andrews
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