Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

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This is the Theological Hall in the Strahov Monastery in Prague. Image by Andreas Gohr, used through a CC license. This image has not been altered.

“The value of theological studies, in an intellectual point of view, does not consist so much in the amount of information as in the amount of energy imparted by them. The doctrines of theology, like the solar centres, are comparatively few in number, and while the demand they make on the memory is small, the demand they make on the power of reflection is infinite and unending. For this reason theological studies are in the highest degree fitted to originate and carry on a true education. There is an invigorating virtue in them which strengthens while it unfolds the mental powers, and therefore the more absorbing the intensity with which the mind dwells upon them, the more it is endued with power.
-William G.T.Shedd, Discourses and Essays, pg. 28, as quoted by Eric Parker

via http://feedly.com/e/PiQ8Sd38

Remember this the next time someone tells you that the study of theology is useless. There is a reason for the fact that at one time, theology was deemed “the queen of the sciences”. The study of Christian theology stimulated the minds of many scientists who have made great scientific discoveries. In point-of-fact, to eliminate theistic philosophy and theology is to stifle the greatest source of wonder and deeper reflection known to man.

Psalm 40:4-5, ESV

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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Image via Brews Ohare, per CC Liscense

When I first moved to the Toolroom at the manufacturing plant I worked in as an apprentice Toolmaker, I was having difficulty with trigonometry. In my vocation, trig was used on a daily basis to obtain accurate angles, or to figure bolt patterns, etc.

I was horrible at math in school, especially geometry and trig. Learning the trig functions was important. Doing your job well is a great motivator for learning things you have difficulty with.

I’m not particularly brilliant, but I am stubborn. I kept banging my head around sine, cosine, and tangent.
One day, it’s like it all just fell together. I had wrestled with the fundamentals so long, I just got a good grasp of it. It seemed to happen overnight, but I really worked hard at it, since it was a necessary skill for my work. I became the trig expert of the shop, which was humorous to me, considering how bad I was at trig in high school, and college.

There are several equations that are the foundation for trigonometry.

Three important ones are:

O/H = Sine (the O/H meaning the Opposite of the Hypotenuse);

A/H = Cosine ( the adjacent of the hypotenuse); and

O/A = Tangent (the opposite of the adjacent)

Theses equations all deal with the relationships between the angles and lines of a right triangle.

The way I learned to remember these relationships was to employ a mnemonic device:

Oscar Has
A Heap
Of Apples

O/H
A/H
O/A

It really helps to understand the equations.

Philosophy uses equations called syllogisms. These syllogisms are representations of logic and argumentation. By argument, I don’t mean a knock-down-drag-out with your bestie. In philosophy, “the goal of an argument is to offer good reasons in support of your conclusion, reasons that all parties to your dispute can accept.” (1)

The syllogism of the moral argument for the existence of God goes something like this:

Premise 1: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.

Conclusion: Therefore, God exists. –

If the atheist denies Premise 1, he or she must offer some alternative source for objective moral values.

By “objective moral standards”, we are making the case that there are at least some ethical values (things that ought to be done, or ought not to be done) that exist in all cultures at all times.

This first premise has to do with moral ontology, or the ultimate source of ethical values. Where is the grounding for “objective moral standards?

This is a difficulty for atheists to deny or refute, which is why many move to deny Premise 2. Of course, this creates its own set of dilemmas.

For instance, how do we explain that even isolated peoples have certain moral absolutes in common with the rest of humanity?

Some examples of a universal moral value might be:

1) it is always wrong to torture babies;

2) it is always wrong to kill someone for the simple pleasure of killing.

“Most people want to uphold premise 2 of the moral argument. After all, if there are no objective ethics, then who is to say that Hitler was objectively morally wrong? Humans have an intuitive sense of right and wrong. The moral argument requires only that at least some actions are objectively right or wrong (e.g. torturing children for pleasure is objectively morally wrong). Premise 1 relates to the perfect standard against which everything else is measured. God, being the only morally perfect being, is the standard against which all other things are judged. Moreover, in the absence of theism, nobody has been able to conceive of a defensible grounding for moral values.” (2)

Human beings have an intuitive sense of what is right and wrong. The Bible identifies this sensing as conscience.

Romans 2:14-16 ESV

14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

The belief in objective moral absolutes is called “moral realism” by philosophers.

It would seem to me, that if we feel guilt over transgressing a moral “law”, that it would have to be more than some abstract idea of morality. It would need to be grounded in a person. We don’t feel guilt when we transgress the law if gravity…we will feel pain, and maybe even die…but not guilt. We feel guilty when we disobey our parents. We don’t feel guilt when we fall off a ladder, unless we fall on our mom…then we feel guilt, of course.

“In other words, objective moral values must be ontologically grounded in a transcendent personality before whom it is appropriate to feel moral guilt (it’s worth noting that the possibility of objective forgiveness for moral guilt is equally dependent upon the moral law having a personal ground).”(3)

Just like learning trig functions helped me in my vocation as a Toolmaker, learning the various arguments for the existence of God will help us all in our vocations as Evangelists and Apologists. Don’t think that by ignoring the arguments for the existence of God that you are somehow not responsible for “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…”(1PE 3:15b ESV) it takes real mental work and reasoning to prepare yourself for the inevitable questions about your faith.

Much of the above discussion was inspired by:

http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/moral-argument.htm#sthash.t6EOZkjt.dpuf

1. Pryor, Jim. “What Is an Argument?.” Philosophical Terms and Methods. N.p., 6 Jan. 2006. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. .

2. “Moral Argument.” AllAboutPhilosophy.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. .

3. Williams, Peter S. . “Can Moral Objectivism Do Without God?.” bethinking.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. .

simul justus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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Science was birthed from the womb of philosophy.

True science can’t be accomplished without the undergirding of philosophy. Without metaphysics, we couldn’t come to conclusions about “what” exists. Without epistemology, we couldn’t understand “how” something exists. All of these assumptions in science are non-empirical. It is important to remember this when dealing with science and faith.

“Here’s the thing: science is utterly dependent upon philosophy to survive. If we didn’t have philosophy–if we didn’t have the developed notions of rationality, inference, and the like–there would be no science. Other theists (and philosophers) have contributed things like parsimony/Occam’s Razor to the wealth of philosophical methodological backbone which makes the scientific enterprise possible.”

– J.W. Wartick

via http://jwwartick.com/2012/05/21/krauss-jump/

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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Have you thought about the extent that current philosophical trends have impacted your life, without your being aware of it?


The significance of these observations for our study is that the same is true today. The influence of philosophy on the day-to-day lives of the people is by far not negligible, and this is even more true for Christians. . . . For the Christian, philosophy is communicated to the congregation through the pulpit. Pastors read and study and attempt to keep up on current events.  But it is precisely in the books, journals, and magazines they read that philosophy is communicated to them and through them to their congregations—and this happens today, as it did leading up to the Enlightenment, without any realization that it is going on. In terms of a basic principle we might say, the less familiar we are with philosophy, the more likely it is to influence us without our being aware.

— Historian Jonathon Israel, as quoted by Bill Pratt

via Why Should Christians Study Philosophy? | Tough Questions Answered.

simul iustus et peccator, 

 

Eric Adams 

Rossville, GA 

godsguy12@comcast.net 

christianreasons@gmail.com 

https://twitter.com/xianreasons 

http://christianreasons.com/

 

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Moral relativism offers no standard, no authority, and no respect.

The only options available to the secular humanist where a standard and authority are concerned are: (1) the natural universe; (2) culture; (3) the individual.

The natural universe isn’t an option as amoral matter cannot produce moral beings nor prescribe moral behavior.

Culture cannot be appealed to as there are many cultures throughout the world, all with different moral standards and practices; there is no way to ascertain which culture is ‘correct’. Culture merely displays what “is” with respect to morality, and even the famous skeptic and antagonist of religion David Hume stated that humanity cannot derive an “ought” from an “is” where morals are concerned.

Lastly, if each individual is used as a standard/authority for morals, the problem seen in using cultures as a moral compass is suddenly compounded exponentially.

Seeing this dilemma, some moral relativists try to say that science can be used to dictate ethics, but even secular scientists admit that science is a descriptive discipline and not a prescriptive one. In addition, its empirical methods are impotent to answer such moral questions such as if the Nazi’s were evil. Einstein sums up the correct position in this matter when he said, “You are right in speaking of the moral foundations of science, but you cannot turn round and speak of the scientific foundations of morality.”[3]

In the end, the moral relativist has no satisfying answer in his/her attempt to respond to the question of if there is anything wrong with anything, and why. There is no standard to turn to and no authority to recognize and respect.”

— Robin Schumacher

via The Problems with Moral Relativism.

simul iustus et peccator,  

Eric Adams 
Rossville, GA 
godsguy12@comcast.net 
christianreasons@gmail.com 

 

“God is not ‘dead’ in academia; he returned to life in the late 1960’s and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments.”

 

“The face of Anglo-American philosophy has been transformed as a result. Theism is on the rise; atheism is on the decline.2 Atheism, though perhaps still the dominant viewpoint at the American university, is a philosophy in retreat. In a recent article in the secularist journal Philo Quentin Smith laments what he calls “the desecularization of academia that evolved in philosophy departments since the late 1960s.” He complains,  “Naturalists passively watched as realist versions of theism. . . began to sweep through the philosophical community, until today perhaps one-quarter or one-third of philosophy professors are theists, with most being orthodox Christians . . . . in philosophy, it became, almost overnight, ‘academically respectable’ to argue for theism, making philosophy a favored field of entry for the most intelligent and talented theists entering academia today.3

Smith concludes, “God is not ‘dead’ in academia; he returned to life in the late 1960’s and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments.”4” — William Lane Craig

via Theistic Critiques Of Atheism | Reasonable Faith.

simul iustus et peccator,

Ерік Адамс