Photo Credit: Palm Beach Atlantic University
What do we think of when we see the word “philosophy” on the screen? Do we imagine old, gray-haired men babbling endlessly about irrelevant topics? Are we taken to ancient Greece where men would stand, debating and arguing in front of huge crowds? Do we think the subject is outdated and no longer needed today? Do we think everyone who practices philosophy has a Ph.D.? While these are caricatures and stereotypes associated with the word "philosophy," the subject couldn’t be more valuable than now.
Have we ever asked ourselves the following questions:
- Does God exist?
- Is there a purpose to life?
- Are there objective standards for morality?
- If God exists, what kind of God is He?
- If God exists, why is there so much evil, pain, and suffering in the world?
- Is there an afterlife?
- Is science the only way to know anything?
These questions have stirred the minds of humans from the dawn of time. Whether we know it or not, these are philosophical questions. Unfortunately, these questions are taken for granted in the Church and are rarely studied in depth. What I mean by this is, as New Testament Christians we believe that God exists, but do we have logical reasons to support the claim? What about the answer to the problem of evil? Most of us believe that God and evil can co-exist, but can we demonstrate how that is possible? While most of us affirm the existence of objective moral standards, can we effectively communicate that they exist to someone who believes in subjective morality?
Philosophy, at the basic level, is about forming arguments that are logical and reasonable. For example, take the existence of God, what argument could we use to show that God exists without referencing the Bible? One argument is the Kalam Cosmological argument, which states the following:
- Whatever has a beginning has a cause.
- The universe had a beginning.
- The universe has a cause.
This is a logically tight argument; given that the universe is made of time, space, and matter, whatever cause the universe must be by nature; timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and amazingly powerful. This sounds a lot like….God. I discovered that argument while reading On Guard by William Lane Craig. I point this out because, I don’t have a Ph.D.(or an MA) but given some time and reading, I’ve come to understand the basics of this particular philosophical argument.
Furthermore, this is the arena where high schoolers and college-aged adults will either solidify their faith or leave it behind. I wish I had enough time to list all the names of young adults I know who've discarded their belief in God because of the existence of evil, pain, and suffering or have been convinced that morality is subjective. Yet, when young adults ask elders, deacons, preachers, regarding these questions, too often they do not have adequate answers. While the Ph.D. in the college classroom provides an unbiblical answer, it is an answer that seems to make more sense than "just have faith."
Here at Apologia Institute, it is our desire to offer and expound on the philosophical foundations of the Christian worldview so parents, high schoolers, elders, deacons and college-aged adults can be equipped when the time comes to engage culture regarding these philosophical issues. The college classroom is where the next generation will be won or lost and it is the philosophical arguments that will determine the direction of the next generation. Remember, every position taken and every argument made, is philosophical.