Saturday, July 7, 2012

Philosophy vs Religion

Well, I've started more earnest study of philosophy, including the History of Philosophy podcast, an iTunesU program on philosophy, along with one other podcast on philosophy. The most recent podcast I listened to was about Plato's Republic. Now, I haven't read the work (though we did have to read parts of it in my college ethics class), but based on that podcast I don't really like what I'm hearing. Plato's supposed Utopia sounds like a robot society with no freedom or love or self-expression. Now, sad as it may be that a society lacking freedom would probably be the safest, that doesn't mean that we should seek to create such a society. I would rather live in a slightly dangerous slightly controlled society than a perfectly safe society without freedom. Again I come back to my standard answer, balance, there has to be a balance between lack of freedom and provision of safety.

One of my other thoughts on philosophy, is my struggle to balance my love of philosophy with my love of Jesus. I don't like to think of myself as religious because I dislike the word and its implications and general negative connotations. But, I do love the Bible and I believe every part of it and am a Christian, in that, I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. As such I believe that God's Word, namely the Bible, is the complete guide on how we ought to live. So studying ethics and philosophy seems sort of silly, because if you want to know how one ought to live, just read the instruction manual. That's not to say I don't like the general thoughtfulness and rationale in philosophy. To quote Wikipedia: "Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument" (emphasis mine). So, I love systematic theology and rational argumentation, however, God's instructions don't have to be rational (as we understand rationality).

So many "rational thinking atheists" often use philosophical arguments to try to poke holes in biblical teachings. However, if you really believe the Bible is the sole source of God's intention for life and creation, then there can be no argument against God's precepts. God said it, therefore it is true and right for our lives. That being said there's a whole world of biblical discussion on systematically analyzing the Bible to understand how and when to apply certain principals. But, the question never comes up as to why we should do this or that. God said it therefore we must do it. That world of biblical discussion also includes the ideas that God intended somethings for some time periods/peoples and other things for other people/time periods. It's often called dispensationalism. The idea that though God is immutable; the way He interacts with creation has changed over time. Many prime examples are found in much of the Old Testament law; all the forbidden foods and other ways God set down to separate His people. Critics will say, if you believe the Bible is true and the rules for your life why do you eat pork or wear mixed fabric clothes? (Which is easily refutable with a careful study of the freedom taught in the New Testament.) Most biblical scholars aren't thrown off by these simple arguments, but some newer, less studied believers can be. All this to be summed up with: I'm going to continue to study philosophy but with a critical Christian point of view.
We are blessed to live in such a beautiful place