Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Its Important To Read With Caution.

Written by: on February 23, 2020

There’s a commonly used quote attributed to Earl Nightingale, “Everyone is self-made but only the successful admit it”, to the effect that every person is the master of their fate and the captain of their destiny. Quotes are very popular and are often used and make written or spoken language beautiful and its common not to question their suitability in the respective context they’re used. I find it dangerous to blindly trust any information without questioning its validity and truth, especially when it’s so well presented. Its like a bonfire spot right after the fire has gone off and its covered with ashes, it looks harmless from the surface but with red hot charcoal lies hidden underneath the ashes. If you step on the ashes, you’ be burnt out of ignorance or negligence.

Steven Pinker is a Canadian- American cognitive scientist, public intellectual and author. He’s one of the leading authorities on language and mind. Pinker is a Harvard college professor and Johnston Family professor of Psychology at Harvard University and writes frequently for the New York Times, The New Republic, and other Magazines. I found Steven Pinker’s book[1] a great read and I wanted to read the whole book other than for the limitations of time and it is indeed a great book that is written with a lot of factual figures to back every claim and assertion and it is done with masterly of the English language. The book is a result of research well done. His optimistic view of the world is very refreshing and very informative. Pinker, in his assessment of the human conditions, urges us to step back from the doomsayers prophecies of doom and the gory headlines of the fake media which plays to our psychological biases. We should instead follow facts and data which he readily provides and analyses, to present up to seventy-five graphs, showing that life, health, prosperity, peace, knowledge and happiness are improving, not only in the west, but the world over. He says that this progress is not as a result of some cosmic force but it’s the gift of the enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science are solely responsible for human flourishing. Pinker is convinced that enlightenment has worked and should be defended vigorously which seems to be a great motivation for his work in writing this book. In defending reason and science, he points to the fact that enlightenment thinkers had in common, an insistence on application of reason to understand the world, and not fall back on generators of delusion. He names Faith, dogma, revelation, authority, charisma, mysticism, visions, gut feelings, or the hermeneutical parsing of sacred texts as the generators of delusion[2].

Picker points out that enlightenment has indeed worked against negative forces of human nature like tribalism. Authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking, which demagogues are always eager to exploit. He identifies some of the perceived enemies of enlightenment as the commentators who are committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies who, fight against enlightenment and its institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation.[3] Pinker with his masterly of language, intellectual depth and literary flair makes a very strong case for reason, science and humanism as the sole means by which we should confront our problems and continue to make further progress.

At the least, while Pinker is a great writer and has presented factual figures, I find his work dangerous in his dismissal of divine guidance which, he dismisses as delusion. The importance of working within a controlled environment is important because boundaries are set for safety and ease of control. Our submission to God and His rules provides the safety of the boundaries set by his commandments which, I believe provides safety for our souls. As much as I enjoyed the factual figures, literary prowess of the author and his masterly of language, I would rather confine myself in the safety of God’s guidance in pursuing progress in both my local context and beyond.

[1] Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The Case For Reason, Science, Humanism And Progress. (New York. Penguin Books, 2018).

[2] Ibid,..page 8

[3] Ibid,…page 28

About the Author

Wallace Kamau

Wallace is a believer in Christ, Married to Mary Kamau (Founder and Executive Director of Missions of Hope International) and father to 3 Wonderful children, Imani Kamau (Graduate student at London School of Economics, UK), Victory Kamau (Undergraduate student at Portland state University, Oregon, USA) and David Kamau ( Grade student at Rosslyn Academy). Founder and Director, Missions of Hope International (www.mohiafrica.org), CPA, BAchelor of Commerce (Accounting) from University of Nairobi, Masters of Arts (Leadership) from Pan African Christian University.

2 responses to “Its Important To Read With Caution.”

  1. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Wallace, I appreciate your reminder of the boundaries of God and their purpose and that you encourage progress but within those boundaries. The Creator certainly should be the One to set those boundaries within which humans can discover and progress.

  2. Mary Mims says:

    Thank you, Wallace, for the reminder that we need to read with caution and take what Pinker says with a grain of salt. I agree that without God’s guidance, there is no real progress.

Leave a Reply