A couple of minutes ago my five-year-old daughter was watching her mother cook some eggs when she asked, Continue reading
“Proving too much” is a philosophical phrase applied to an argument that seems to make a valid point until you realize the point is so broad that it is not able to remain true when the obvious is pointed out. There are variations on the exact phrasing of the definition, but the point is always the same – you prove too much and the result is you prove nothing.
I recently read an on-line article that discussed the feelings of some atheistic parents after one of their children embraced religion. As with most on-line stories there was a comment section, and as with most on-line stories involving atheism and any form of faith the comments were predictable to say the least.
Out of all the comments, one stood out to me – but it wasn’t original to the commenter. I have seen roots of the comment (which was presented as a passive argument in this case) used multiple times. And unfortunately I am sure it will continue to be used despite the fact the comment proves nothing by proving too much. In fact, the “challenge” of the comment can be logically answered with fewer words than it takes to propose the argument.
The argument under consideration is Continue reading
Not too long ago my four-year-old child (with absolutely no prodding whatsoever) was watching cartoons when she asked, “Dad, why are we alive?”
I responded in a testing sort of way by saying, “Because we’re not dead.”
Well, to that semi-sarcastic answer she replied, with a serious tone, Continue reading
Plato and Paul by Joshua Gulley
As a diversion lately I’ve been reading a textbook I kept from college: Philosophy: History and Problems. In a chapter about Plato the authors describe his theory of “Forms.” Basically, forms are the essence of a thing—you and I, being humans, are copies, imitations, or manifestations of the form called “humanness.” Perhaps a better example would be the form called “Beauty,” of which there are many diverse expressions. A rose, for example, displays characteristics of the form “Beauty.” It doesn’t exhaust the characteristics of beauty, because beauty can be manifested in other things—a sunset, for example, or an attractive person, or a relationship that works properly. The things that display the form “beauty” are almost endless. The point is that these individual things are only manifestations of the “form,” which is said to exist independently of the things which are copies of it. In support of this idea is the fact that we make value judgments about the quality of things. We say that one particular “car” is better than another car, implying that there is a standard—an “ultimate car”—by which we measure the quality of a particular car—and one model is closer to that standard than another.
Like other philosophies, I suppose this one has weaknesses, but that’s not the reason I brought this one up. I find this philosophy of “forms” intriguing because it suggests there are two worlds—one that is made up of the things we see and handle, which are, as Plato suggests, copies of the true “forms” that exist separately from our experience. The analogies could be pushed to the extreme, but I think this aligns perfectly with what we understand from reading the Bible. There is a physical world—a world of the flesh, the things we experience. Then there is a spiritual world—a world of the “forms” or virtues that find expression in the physical world. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” All these we can imagine as “forms” which find expression in the actions we portray in everyday life. I’m ninth in line at Wal-Mart at the only register that is open despite the fact that it’s Wednesday night and they should know there will be an onslaught of customers, but instead of huffing, puffing, and describing the managers using creative adjectives, I make use of the time by saying a silent prayer, getting to know someone in line next to me, or thinking of all the things God has done for me today that I don’t deserve. My doing so is not the ultimate picture of “patience,” but it is a reflection of that “form” which exists separately from my individual demonstration of it.
I believe the apostle Paul has Plato’s back here. “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). Lord, may our lives be filled with demonstrations of those “forms” You call us to pursue; and by so doing, help us reflect Jesus, who is our life.
Josh is a teacher of music at the High School level and is a member among the saints who belong to the Smithville Church of Christ
“Even when one feels nearest to other people, something in one needs obstinately to belong to God and refuse to enter in any earthly communion – at least that is how I should express it if I thought there was a God. It is odd, isn’t it? I fell passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet … what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted. Some ghosts, from some extra mundane regions, seem always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat for the world, but I cannot understand the message” (Bertrand Russell, quoted by J.P. Moreland in “Does God Exist?” A debate between J.P. Moreland and Kai Nielsen, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990, pp. 73-74, emphasis in original).
Interestingly, these remarks were made in 1918, but he put them into his second volume of his autobiography, which was printed in 1968.
A system of rules, conduct and belief that allows man to feel plugged into a world that, without it, is pointless, terrifying, and beyond his control and understanding.
Some years ago I took my first philosophy class. It was an introductory class, but in that class, as best I can recall, I learned something from Socrates that has stayed with me these two and one-helf decades. It went something like this: “I know that I don’t know.”
Socrates was received well by many, but not well by many more. He always employed the use of questions, and to his many associates this was infuriating. When questioned himself, he did not really propose to know, thus his questions to ascertain knowledge.
These are two things I have taken from that class: 1) humility with respect to knowledge, 2) using questions to get to the base of the issue pursued.
I have no simple “mission statement” like we used to live by in the USA, but there is a philosophy that I live by. First, the only real pattern in my life is the Lord. Second, whatever knowledge of any substantive value I can gain will come from God’s word. Third, I am not as smart as some might think; neither am I as uninformed as others might think. Fourth, the fewer words spoken the better. Fifth, other people don’t think like me and it is quite unfair for me to attribute to them my way of thinking. Sixth, the grass in never greener than the place I plant my roots.
There are other thoughts that come to mind, but the ones above are adequate to express a philosophy in life.
Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a living presence.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge