Of What Use Is a Study
I have written so much on the negatives of
philosophy that one might wonder whether I thought there was
anything good in “Athens.”
Well, there is much good… so much in fact that I think
that properly taught
courses should be in all Christian high schools, colleges, and
But note the qualification, “properly taught.”
Almost all philosophy being produced by Christians today
has serious Biblical, if not logically fallacious flaws.
That is the reason for this website.
But, now for positives for philosophy.
These are not ranked by order of importance.
Strengthening faith. Perhaps the greatest use of
philosophy to a Christians is to challenge what they believe.
This reason is one of the qualifications about its being
This method would strengthen and legitimize Christian (Biblical)
truth, not destroy it.
For indeed, this Truth is the only truth that man will
know in his earthly life.
Through philosophy the discerning Christian can build a
solid, impenetrable system of belief.
Epistemology and the limitations of empiricism. Philosophy
challenges how we know anything.
Empiricism (induction, scientific method, observational
reasoning, etc.) can only yield “probable” knowledge.
Now, this probability may approach 99.9 percent certainty
(rarely), but nevertheless it is not unchanging truth.
Virtually all philosophers agree with this notion—one of
the few about which they
en masse do agree.
Empiricism functions quite well in the domain of the more
“objective” sciences, but in the human sciences it looses most
of its validity.
For example, sociology can never prescribe, it can only
describe. There are
no oughts in “what is,” the only proper domain of sociology.
The same is true of psychology—the Bible is the
foundation for knowledge of the soul which comes from the word
psyche means mind or
soul and ology—study
of. God created the
soul, and He is the only one that can understand it (Jeremiah
17:9). And, to the
extent that God has revealed His directives for the mind and for
behavior, man can understand and know what is expected of him.
(For more on the subject of empiricism, see below.
For more on psychology, see
Logic is a division of philosophy (but perhaps it
should not be, as it governs all disciplines).
All students should know how to reason logically and
avoid logical fallacies, else they will make common blunders.
Even if one starts from true premises, fallacious or
improper reasoning can lead to wrong conclusions.
And vice versa, one can start from false premises, one
can make valid syllogism, and still have false notions.
Because of the detail necessary, however, logic should be
taught as a separate course, not in just in basic philosophy.
conflict of faith and reason resolved. All reason has a
starting point that should be resolved into a first philosophy:
premise, presupposition, axiom, assumption, bias, and numerous
other synonyms for the place where one begins—one’s basic
As such, all philosophy begins in faith which is exactly
the same as “first philosophy.”
So, everyone… every philosopher that ever wrote or opened
his mouth, starts with faith—his first philosophy or first
there, he builds a system within which he attempts to be
His system, then, is
challenged by the Biblical system with the truth of Scripture as
the Christians’ first principle.
Thus, the Christian sees how his “faith” challenges all
other positions of “faith.”
The conflict of faith and reason in the history of
philosophy is one of the greatest confusions in the human race.
There is no conflict—there is only the necessary
understanding of the true nature of each.
Complex reason has
already been applied just to make a statement of faith.
(See “language” below.)
Definitions and synonyms.
Philosophy should deal with precise definitions and
the consistent (coherent) use of them throughout one’s system.
For example, few Christians today understand the words
“love” and “faith,” as they are used in the Bible.
I was so concerned about the latter, that I wrote a book,
Without Faith It Is Impossible to Please God.
The definition of love is the sacrificial application of
every directive given by God in Scripture—that is, love is the
sacrificial application of the law.
Thus, a primary focus of philosophy should be the
creation and use of definitions and synonyms.
I am coming to understand that failure to connect
synonyms with each other is a major problem in both theology and
there are ten synonyms for a word, and all are discussed without
connection to each other, it appears that there are ten
different concepts being discussed.
An example from Scripture is faith and hope.
They are virtually identical except for some nuances.
Grace, mercy, justice, and love are very close, also, but
they are used as though they were totally different concepts.
The complexity of language.
Johann Hamann stated, “Language is the hypostatic union
of the sensible and the intelligible.”
Now, this statement is complex, employing notions of
Kant, the Greek concept
of “substance” (hypostasis—ground
of being, ultimate being, thing in itself, “what is,” etc. found
in Hebrews 11:1: the “substance—ultimate ground—of things hoped
for.”) However, it
gets one thinking about the complexity of simply language
structure. Noam Chomsky
has stated dogmatically that the complexity of
language-communication cannot possibly be “learned” within the
time that humans spend in childhood until they acquire these
skills. And, there
are no primitive languages.
Some third world languages in “primitive” cultures have
as many as 200 words for “tree.”
English places verbs in the middle of sentences; German
places verbs at the end of the sentences.
Statements in one language cannot be fully translated
into another language.
And, on and on.
Language-communication is an extremely complex subject.
Without precise definitions, reasoning is impossible.
What does this mean for Christians?
(1) Translation of Hebrew and Greek into English is not
itself is not simple.
Therefore, all this complexity has to be considered to
texts. (2) Because
communication is so complex, everyone needs to work a little
harder at accuracy in conversations, speaking, and writing.
God has implied the complexity with His admonitions to
clarify and correct mis-communications (for example, Matthew
5:23, Matthew 5:27, and Ephesians 4:26).
(3) The traditional (apparent) conflict between faith and
reason cannot even be argued without the complexity of reason
that is inherent and integral to statements about the issues.
And, faith is assumed also in the very possibility of
language. So, in
actuality faith and reason cannot be separated from each other.
What is needed is accurate definitions, clarification,
logic, coherence, system, and other concepts that construct
one’s philosophy or religion.
The complexities and myths of “proof.”
All reasoning begins with starting points and, if
properly performed, moves to first principles (as just
principles are assumed on faith and are called foundational
beliefs—they are the foundation for the system that is built
Proofs can only be made
From a Biblical system, one cannot prove that God exists to an
atheist. He has
already assumed that God does not exist, so no amount of
reasoning can convince him that he is wrong.
If he does accept some of your arguments, he is being
inconsistent with his own system, and therefore, irrational.
Likewise, he cannot attack your system of Christianity
(assuming that it is well constructed) because to allow
the possibility that God
does not exist is to be inconsistent with your own system.
Likewise, all philosophical systems, such as those of
Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein,
cannot be proved to those other minds because their foundational
beliefs differ. Thus,
all valid reasoning is circular which also means that all
systems have “faith,” that is, first principles or “properly
basic beliefs” for their foundations.
On this basis
all cosmological and
ontological arguments are false.
That many, if not most, pagan philosophers have seen
through these fallacies demonstrates (not proves) this point.
Again, examine the discussion of starting principles
above and elsewhere.
If someone becomes convinced by a cosmological argument
that God exists, then it is the Holy Spirit that has convicted
them, not the argument itself.
And, He has done so by changing that person’s
Worship of God. The
complexities of language, communication, and reasoning should
provoke a person to fall down and worship God.
While the complexities of nature via Intelligent Design
and other intricacies of nature are well-know, these
complexities just named are not as well known.
They were not known to me until I began to study what
exactly is meant by “reason,” “reasoning,” and “rationality.”
When one thinks at these terms, he tends to identify with
logic or logical fallacies.
But if one looks in a textbook on logic, he will find a
chapter on definitions.
Thus, modern philosophy has analyzed language and
communication to show its complexity.
Simply to state the proposition, “All humans are mortal,”
much less the complete syllogism, one has already moved through
a process that is considerably complex.
Many, if not most, evangelical theologians identify the
“image of God” in Genesis 1:27, as reason and the ability to
think. So, they
have been right about their conclusions, but perhaps not
realizing that the seemingly simple task of making those
statements themselves is highly complex.
Understanding this complexity is just another great
motive to worship God “in the beauty of holiness” and to worship
Him “in spirit and in truth.”
Could spirit and truth simply be synonyms here and
Opportunities in academic settings.
I have recently gone to a local university for
courses in philosophy.
One of the amazing things that I found was the
centerpiece of “God” for so many philosophers in history,
beginning with the early Greeks gods and the true “God” of
course, the 20th century and into the present, God
has been lost to much of the process.
But Augustine, the Scholastics, and the philosophers of
the 17-19th centuries, either centered their
philosophies in God or opposed Him in their own systems.
I realize and
have discussed at length, that their “gods” were not the God
of Biblical orthodoxy.
Nevertheless, here is a place where God is openly
discussed in state university classrooms!
opportunity to discuss the weaknesses of these philosophies and
the strengths of Biblical Christianity, if…
(1) The student has a
good grasp or the foundations of reasoning and Biblical
Christianity to engage in intelligent discussions.
(2) The student is consistent with Biblical orthodoxy, if
not Reformed Christianity.
I think that the latter is the only Christian (Biblical)
system that is logically and rationally correct.
It is by careful design that the Westminster Confession
of Faith has The Scriptures as Chapter One.
Thus, belief in the Bible is the first principle of
Christianity—which does not even exist apart from that first
Two establishes who God is.
The errors of philosophers who use an unbiblical god
cannot be discerned unless the real God is known accurately and
Christian philosophers today are not rationally coherent with
fact, I do not know of any alive, as of this date (February
2009) that I would recommend.
Past philosophers that I highly recommend are Gordon H.
Clark, Carl F. H. Henry, Ronald Nash, Cornelius Van Til, and
Greg Bahnsen. Some
of their works can be found among the references on this
website. All their
works can be found at various places on the web and in their
books, especially those Reformed.
of Contents, you can find critiques of other Christian
philosophers so that you can understand where they are in error.
The simplicity of the Biblical message as a "philosophy."
The Bible speaks variously of light and darkness, the
world and the Spirit, principalities and powers vs. Christ and
Christians, and the Kingdom of God vs. the Kingdom of this
world. Then, there
is the serious deception pictured in the title for Satan, as
“The Angel of Light.”
Thus, there are
only two philosophies in the past, present, and future: Biblical
Christianity and all others—the autonomy of Satan or the
autonomy of man.
How helpful is this simple division!
There are not tens or hundreds of philosophies in the
past and present or more to come in the future.
There are only two!
So, all these other philosophies are variations of the
one that opposes God.
You do not have to be misled that many philosophers use
Biblical and Christian themes (for example, Descartes, Kant,
Hegel, and Kierkegaard).
You simply have to decide whether they are Biblically
coherent or not.
You see, you are many, many steps ahead of “professional”
philosophers with this simple Biblical division.
Cutting through empirical data.
Empiricism is variously known as experimental data,
observation and conclusions, scientific method, induction, and
cause and effect.
As such, it is the primary method by which mankind discerns the
patterns in his world that God has designed.
It is the method by which the
Creation Mandate is enacted and progress made in a fallen
there is an inherent fallacy to this method.
As noted above, empiricism never arrives at truth.
It may arrive at extremely high degrees of probability,
but it may also err entirely.
For example, the fact that the sun will appear each
morning is virtually certain—until the Second Coming of Christ.
Getting into our automobiles to go to some destination is
highly predictable, but we have all experienced times that we
did not make it due to car failure, a traffic accident, or other
limiting event. But
consider the stock market.
Everyone has their own strong indicators—empirical
data—charts and more charts, but the fact is that the market on
a day to day basis is highly unpredictable.
It is doubtful that most investors in the past 10 years
have made any money at all.
Yet, everyone’s data is “soundly” based in empiricism.
(Try reading The
Black Swan by Nassim Teleb.)
Now, the most important area to “cut through”
empirical data are the “sciences” that closely overlap Biblical
truth: psychology, medicine, sociology, and perhaps others.
One often hears, “All truth is God’s truth.”
But on the concept of empiricism, this proposition cannot
be true because empiricism does not arrive at truth, only
conclusion may be one of the most prevalent areas of agreement
among all philosophers, especially those who specialize in logic
and logical fallacies.
I have written extensively on the fallacies of Christians
in medicine and psychology, so the reader can research that on
my medical-ethical and
The truth of Scripture must be authoritative over any
empirical conclusion in these areas.
Sometimes the response to this question of
empiricism is, “You read your Bible don’t you,” implying that
reading is an empirical process.
It is nothing of the sort.
The eyes are an instrument, like phone lines and wave
transmissions from the mind of the author (the words on the
page) to the mind of the reader.
We have reviewed the complexity of language, so placing
words on a page in a coherent manner is a complex process.
Reading is no less a complex process of processing,
understanding, and storing the book data into the reader’s mind.
Reading is not empiricism, and the very notion that it
is, strongly and clearly indicates the need for philosophical
understanding on the part of the one making that statement.
And, those who make such statements are often “leaders”
in the Christian community!
I am convinced on this one issue alone that
evangelical Christianity could have a far greater impact on all
cultures and furtherance of the Creation Mandate!
For my more complete development of the problems of
Empiricism: A Modern Danger.
Enhancement of Biblical interpretation.
Many laymen, preachers, teachers, and theologians may
never have considered that principles of hermeneutics are not
found in Scripture!
Rarely does the Bible say what genre a text is: historical
narrative, poetry, hymn, or didactic (teaching, doctrine).
For example, the Bible does not instruct on Hebrew
parallelisms that one set may be a re-statement of the same
concept or that it is a contrasting statement.
The Hebrew language and careful deduction tells the
The Bible does not say that the historical-critical method is
the best method over the allegorical.
Careful reasoning and common agreement have determined
And on and on down the list of hermeneutical principles which
are primarily and almost entirely rules that apply to the
interpretation of all writings in various languages—derived from
rational thought and language study (which are not necessarily
different in themselves).
Consider the widely stated aphorism that “God
is love.” When this
phrase is used, “love” is rarely defined.
But “love” is a predicate which may be nominative or
contend that in this context “love” is adjectival—it speaks of
only one of God’s attributes.
It is a limiting description of God.
God is also justice, mercy, grace, eternal, truth,
omniscient, etc., etc.
Love is one of the most complex of Biblical terms.
If one does not do the Biblical study to determine what
love is, he should not use “God is love.”
non-defined love is and has been severely damaging to the Church
and God’s Kingdom.
This is a hermeneutical issue.
I have done the
homework on love; therefore, I am qualified to speak.
Let others qualify themselves, also.
Then, the issue will be
better exposed for discussion.
Again, I refer to the Westminster Confession
of Faith. “The
whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own
glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set
down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be
deduced from Scripture” (Chapter I:6).
of truth is truth.
Compare this statement with what I have said about
empiricism: truth vs. probable conclusion.
For example, The Trinity is an orthodox concept without
which Christianity fails as a system.
But “Trinity” and “One God in Three Persons” appears
nowhere in the Biblical text.
They are logical deductions.
Again, valid deduction of truth is truth.
In the language of logic, the truth of the predicate is
found in the truth of the subject.
Logical deduction is a hermeneutic of Scripture that is
one of the most important for Biblical interpretation.
The unique nature of the Bible in epistemology—the
objective philosopher’s dream come true .
Epistemology—the theory of what can be really and truly
known—is one of the major branches of philosophy.
Some philosophers claim that it is the most foundational
of the branches.
From my perspective,
there is an interdependency of epistemology with metaphysics and
ethics with coherency of logic necessary to any system.
epistemology is quite central to philosophy—nay, to “know”
anything. Thus, the
Bible is unique, as it is an objective, transcendental, and
supernatural message from God.
All other knowledge is innate, empirical, reasoned from
existing knowledge, or mystical (transcendental and
supernatural, but subjective).
Because of its inculturation in the West, the
Bible is not often appreciated for its objectivity. It is
objectified... it is His Special Revelation
objectified... it is the knowledge that God wants
humans to have available to them
objectified. The Bible is the knowledge of God
entering history through a source that is an
object. It is there in the public square for
the Church and for society to gain understanding and direction.
It is the objectively thinking philosopher's dream: a source of
metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics in a fixed, determined
source that he can study!
Learn informal fallacies relevant to Bible study and
A person is asked, “Have you stopped beating your wife?”
cannot answer without incriminating himself.
This fallacy is called
asserting the consequent.
One fallacy we have already seen: “All truth is God’s
truth,” where truth includes empirical reasoning.
A double fallacy is found in the common interpretation
that Jesus and Peter have two different meanings for “love” in
John 21:15-17—Jesus using
agapeo and Peter using
The issues is resolved in that Jesus spoke in Aramaic,
while John wrote in Greek.
The differing ideas of love are not found in the Aramaic
language. That is a
fallacy of translation.
In the same passage is another fallacy, one of differing
phileo are synonyms,
e.g., the latter verb is used to designate how the Christian is
to love Jesus Christ.
Surely, no one would contend that he is to love Jesus
only in a “brotherly way,” the commonly espoused meaning of
Careful reasoning and logic are extremely important to
Biblical interpretation and these errors are made by some of the
For an abundance of Biblical fallacies, see
by D. A. Carson.
What autonomous reason looks like.
Philosophers are great thinkers who are autonomous
thinkers. That is,
they are thinkers without Special Revelation (The Bible) being
the controlling authority or even a part of their process.
Of course, many philosophers, especially the Scholastics,
and to a lesser extent some of the Enlightenment thinkers
(Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel, and Kierkegaard) used Biblical
terms, but re-defined them for their own systems.
Ancient, Greek, and modern philosophers are totally
autonomous except for whatever influence the
affects their thinking (Romans 1:19-21).
Our first reaction as Bible-believers is, “That is
How could they come up with that?”
Of course, it is foolish—that is what the Bible calls it
Nevertheless, we see autonomous man in great and extensive
discourse trying to devise a system without God, sin, and
salvation! It is
first of all to be pitied.
But secondly it must be countered at every proposition (I
Learn to examine Christian philosophers.
Philosophers who are Christians get away with entirely
too much because of the complex language of philosophy which
they make increasingly more complex.
For example, note the length of Alvin Plantinga’s
Belief, the last of his trilogy on that subject.
It is so complex that he uses narrower margins for his
own references and digressions, and in the text makes very
frequent references that “this subject cannot be addressed
never-ending pursuit reminds me of scientific research that
always ends with “more research is needed to establish fully
Where does the “justifying” and the “warranting” end?
Christian philosophers do not use the Bible as
the controlling epistemological authority in their philosophy.
Just look at any issue of
Faith and Philosophy
(the periodical of The Society of Christian Philosophers)
and note the paucity of Biblical and theological references.
Dear readers, the Bible is God’s revelation to man.
It does not take much reasoning power to know that the
infinite and omniscient God knows more than finite and
Duh! (As a
modern teenager would say.)
This exposure of Christians doing
non-Christian philosophy is a major task of this website.
And, more exposure is needed by Christians who
“philosophize” consistent with the Word of God.