Did you Know that You are a Philosopher?

23 November 2008

Everybody has a philosophy. You are no exception.

Maybe a better way to put it is that you have a ‘world-view’. A world-view, simply put, is a lens through which you and I view and experience “life, the universe, and everything”. It is unfortunate that many of us do not notice the lens. But it’s there all right.

Not sure? Then consider a little illustration, curtesy of a friend at church.

One day a young boy of six said to his father, “why does the world not fall down?”

To which his father explained in simple terms that the Earth orbits the Sun. He even referred to Newton’s universal law of gravitation (as he was a physics teacher).

The boy – ever inquisitive – then asked, “well, how do you know?”

His father, rubbing his hands and getting into his element, noted that many astronomers have observed this phenomenon in different parts of the sky. And these observations can be used to derive the law.

Beginning to sound like a philosopher or a good physicist, the boy then asked how astronomers could know that gravitation is a universal law?

Impressed now, the father explained that the law is constant throughout known reality (as far as we can tell, and assuming Newtonian physics for now).

Now sounding suspiciously older than six, the boy asked why this is the case. To which the father replied as best he could: he said, “it just is”.

At that point, the boy’s father revealed to his son part of his own world-view. The moment his father said “it just is”, is when we can see one of his father’s most fundamental assumptions.

Now, this simple story may not be realistic, or apply to everyone. But the point remains: we all have fundamental assumptions about reality. And that’s all they are: assumptions. And we can easily discover some of them by allowing ourselves to reach a similar stage where we must simply say, “it just is”.

What is your philosophy, what is your lens? Do you like what you discover? Are you confident in your assumptions? It is important to know what you assume, and why you assume it.

I leave you with a quote by Eric Hoffer:

“What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people’s faces as unfinished as their minds.”

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Why do Some Christians Reject Evolution?

14 November 2008

I don’t want to debate the empirical matters of the theory of evolution. I’m neither a geneticist nor a biologist, so I gave that up ages ago. But it is my impression that most Christians who disagree with evolution do so on a basis that has nothing to do with the actual scientific merit of the theory anyway.

So why do some Christians reject the theory?

I think most would say that evolution is contrary to the first chapter of Genesis. But while I disagree with this sentiment, I won’t address it here (maybe another post).

What I want to do is discuss another possible reason, one that has cropped up in a few conversations. That is: some Christians think that the philosophical theories/statements founded on, and related to, evolution are synonymous with the theory itself. This appears to me to be absurd, very much throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The theory of evolution is a scientific theory, not in itself philosophical (though I suppose it depends on how broad your definition of ‘philosophy’ is). You may as well reject the theory of relativity for philosophical reasons! So some Christians may have rejected the theory of evolution needlessly.

I think it may be helpful for all of us to understand, and make clear in our conversations, when and where we make the journey from science to philosophy.

My view on this is a work in progress, as it were; so I welcome your thoughts and comments. By all means disagree! But let me know, and expect a little discussion.