The Truth about
Philosophy---Briefly and Repeatedly Noted:
Rambling Bytes for
** The following are brief definitions and
discussions of philosophy and what it means or does not mean.
Most comments demonstrate the tentative and tenuous
ground of philosophy.
A lot of questions may be raised, and the statements are
not always precise, but that is the point of this little
project. All of
these are mostly “off the cuff,” so gaps, incompleteness, and
even errors may be contained within.
Unless otherwise noted,
all comments are stated by the Editor of this site-Ed.
Any one paragraph could
be the theme for a school or term paper!
“We must not use reason, or knowledge gained,
by scientific means, as
basis for our Faith, since that kind of knowledge may prove
to be in error. But
we may indeed use reason and scientific knowledge to
explore what we
The point is important.”
Journey Out of Time, viii)
The study of philosophy is similar to the
study of science, if one keeps Biblical revelation in mind.
The study of science in its almost infinite complexity
should only increase one’s awe and worship of God’s great
study of philosophy teaches that in all the centuries of effort,
philosophy can only speculate about “ultimate reality” and
“truth” without Biblical revelation—the revealing of God’s ways
and mind to finite man.
One’s awe and worship ought to be increased in
philosophy, as well as in science, when it is properly
understood and grounded in Scripture.
No one person can even begin to read all the
literature produced by books, journals, and other sources on all
areas of philosophy.
I would even venture to say that no one person can even
list all the species and sub-species of philosophy.
Eventually, I will try to categorize some of these for
the sake of simplicity and sanity. (Now looks like I will
not, as I am not interested--November 20-14.)
What is the problem Kant is trying to solve?
Near at hand, there are a host of problems: He wants to respond
to Hume's skepticism; he struggles with the problem of evil; he
wants to affirm the advances of Newton without sacrificing
humanity and religion. But if we look in a larger perspective,
he is trying to resolve a problem perennial in philosophical
study. He is challenging the desire, which he finds everywhere
in the philosophical tradition, to know as God knows, to know
unconditionally, to know by what he describes as an act of
"intellectual intuition." Peter Leithart,
The study of philosophy demonstrates that
there are no answers in philosophy.
This conclusion opens up the possibility, probability,
and even certainty of Biblical truth. Douglas Hofstadter
has stated that "provability is weaker than the notion of
truth," based upon Gödels incompleteness
theorems. See his book, Escher, Gödel, and Bach.
A philosopher’s primary concerns should be:
(1) truth, (2) the implications of death, (3) the meaning of
human existence, (4) ethical absolutes, and
(5) the derivation of coherent systems within these
“Philosophy is a goddess, whose head indeed is
in heaven, but whose feet are upon earth.
She attempts more than she accomplishes, and promises
more than she performs.
She can teach us to hear of the calamities of others with
magnanimity; but it is religion (Biblical Christianity) only
that can teach us to bear our own with resignation.”
(Quote on the Title Page of
Beulah, by Augusta J.
Philosophy or religion is one person’s pursuit
of the ultimate questions about life and the origins of the
universe with the Controlling Authority being his own beliefs
This definition applies to the pagan, as well as the Christian.
John Frame has called the latter, “
Philosophy is irrelevant if it cannot be
understood by the common man.
Of course, philosophers have never produced anything
“relevant” for anyone, so what difference does it make that the
common man cannot understand it?
In fact, he is likely better off not to know!
Philosophy differs for the regenerate and
unregenerate—Kuyper’s two-fold starting point.
All “Christian” philosophy that does not consider the
Bible foundational (authoritative, inerrant, sufficient) is no
better than those that leave the Bible out entirely—it is still
man selecting truth by his own authority.
The Biblical philosopher always tries to let Scripture
control his thought process.
Has anything changed since Eve was tempted,
“To be as God, knowing good and evil?”
Man still wants to be God and to define good and evil.
Philosophers do not want Special Revelation because they
want to define the universe and purpose for themselves.
They are fools.
When a Christian is familiar with the
intricacies of logic, he worships the God who transcends all
human knowledge and gives to man a Special Revelation in which
its most important truths can be understood by a simple mind and
in which its deepest truths lie beyond the greatest minds.
“It cannot be maintained that philosophy has
had any great measure of success in its attempts to provide
definite answers to its questions.”
(Bertrand Russell in
Philosophy for the regenerate is speculation
about how God does things, but the Christian must be sure that
he has knowledge of a comprehensive system of Biblical truth.
Philosophy by the unregenerate is simply personal opinion
about metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.
Philosophy is unregenerate man’s autonomous
quest for meaning and reality without God’s Special Revelation,
or philosophy is man’s attempt to find meaning apart from
If God has not spoken, then only might can
invoke an ethical norm.
Might does not make right, because “right” does not exist
without God. Might
enforces the will of those in power—whether they are right or
Philosophy is thinking analytically and
critically and coming to conclusions, but only through Scripture
will this process find truth.
Philosophy is the personal, autonomous opinion
of every philosopher—and every person on planet earth.
Thus, there are as many philosophies as there are
people—like fingerprints—God-created individual minds.
No two Christians even agree on all their interpretations
Philosophy is the origin of knowledge, its
manipulation by certain rules, and the value that is placed upon
conclusions formed from it.
Philosophy is an attempt to come to
conclusions with some certainty about the big issues of life
before one dies, and it no longer matters. After that it
is too late. What if one's conclusions are wrong, and
there is a Hell!
Philosophy is anything that a “philosopher”
(that is, anyone) wants it to be because there is no
agreed upon canon
(standard or “measuring stick”) by which to disqualify what
Philosophy cannot even be defined apart from
the epistemology of Scripture.
Philosophy is man’s myriad ways to avoid
confrontation with or thinking about God.
Philosophers unnecessarily obfuscate any
solutions with a plethora of definitions, individual
preferences, division and subdivisions, and definitions.
For example, is
philosophy concerned with truth, knowledge, epistemology,
belief, justified true belief, or reality as the bedrock for the
derivation of all the questions that plague man (death and
after, truth, significance, rules to live by)?
Few philosophers who are Christians help the situation.
No sooner does one philosopher think that he
has the answer, or even “an” answer, before he is refuted once,
twice, multiple times.
That sequence has happened over and over in history and
The only true philosophy begins with faith
(epistemology, metaphysics) in the inerrancy (theory) and
sufficiency (practice, ethics) of the Bible.
All other philosophies and religions are so much
sophistry. See Gordon Clark's conclusions to his book, Thales
Augustine was right—faith determines what one
will accept as truth.
Everyone starts with faith, that is, presuppositions,
first principles, and all the other synonyms of this concept.
Faith is the ground of all philosophies and religions.
Reason can only be applied to what faith has already
discovered or brought to mind.
"There is no significant body of knowledge
that is taken to be universally true with respect to the subject
matter of philosophy.... a discipline such as philosophy has had
a few millennia to define itself, and has thus far not been
successful." (Scott Oliphint, Reasons for Faith,
“In the end we must confess that we have no idea
why there is no established body of metaphysical results.
It cannot be denied that this is a fact…. In metaphysics you are
perfectly free to disagree with anything the acknowledged
experts (in philosophy) say…”
(Peter Van Inwagen,
Ed., page 12)
“Truth be told, the same problems that plague
metaphysics plague epistemology as well. If van Inwagen is
correct, then there is no established body of accepted
metaphysical results to which one interested in the subject must
appeal in order to enter the debate…. Metaphysics remains in a
near-total state of flux and chaos.”
(Oliphint, Reason for Faith, page 122.)
Philosophy is another language that must be
learned. Its words
often are considerably disparate from ordinary use, for example,
atom, accident, universal, particular, God or god, category, and
is a language all of its own; each philosopher has his own
language and his own definitions. They are perhaps more
disparate from each other than German is from Japanese.
“Some people are surprised (and disappointed)
to discover the frequency with which philosophers have
difficulty coming up with a totally satisfactory analysis of
…. One can read a great many contemporary (or past—Ed)
philosophic attempts to elucidate the notion of rationality and
conclude that all of them fall short in one way or another….
Some philosophers simply appeal to the idea of
rationality as what they call a “primitive notion.”
What they mean by this move is that most people operate
with a primitive understanding of rationality…. even if they (or
their philosophy instructor) may be unable to produce a totally
satisfactory definition of the term.
Faith and Reason, page 75)
I ask, “Where does one go for definitive and
final answers among philosophers for truth?
Yes, there is a fairly substantial agreed upon “science” of laws
and principles of logic—but that is only a process of reasoning
with already present knowledge, not a source of truth.
The truth is that
philosophy has no answers—just an endless number of theories,
new terms, and failed hopes.
Philosophy has been unable to develop a common doctrine that
could be taught to students with the general consent of all
those who teach philosophy….
Epistemology misdirects inquiry.
By definition, knowledge is justified true belief.
However, much of the knowledge that a person has in his
mind is false. So,
knowledge is not just that which is somehow true, but also that
which is false.
Knowledge should be defined as whatever occupies the mind.
A quest for truth lies beyond epistemology—it is the
domain of faith—faith known only by regeneration.