The majority of contemporary epistemology does not think a person can receive divine revelations from God. Yet, many practicing Christians do. In this essay, I’d like to look at the assumptions at work in philosophy and suggest our assumptions may not be prudent.
Contemporary philosophy is full of atheistic assumptions. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. That there is no God may be true. What it means, however, it that if one wants to write about beliefs and practices Christians have, one must often turn to being a Christian writer.
In the early days of western philosophy, even Socrates, who didn’t believe in the gods, famously sought out the Oracle of Delphi, who told him that he was the wisest man because he knew that he knew nothing.
Move forward to the advent of Christianity, and we get advice such as: Trust in God with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. What a way to say that it’s wise to trust God and not on your own understanding! The wise will trust God and not their own understanding. We also get, as scripture tells us, the ability to receive spiritual gifts—gifts like the Oracle of Delphi had. The ability to connect with the spiritual world.
Much of contemporary philosophy has done away with all kinds of gods, Christian or not. This slow movement in our assumptions toward an Occam’s Razor type of thinking may keep us from truth—if truth is that there is something out there. Philosophy, for the most part, is concerned with finding truth. Yet, our assumptions exclude the experiences of people around the world who proclaim divine occurrences. Many philosophers these days assume those people must have faulty faculties. But what if there is nothing really wrong with their faculties.
If there is a God, that God, many believe, is the smartest being. His weakness is greater than our strength and His foolishness is wiser than our intellect. It would wise, then, to seek Him out, if He exists, if we want to know truth.
I’m not saying every philosopher must convert to Christianity. I’m simply saying that the assumptions in place right now in philosophy give us a sparse understanding of the human experience. And that sparseness may not even lead us to the entire truth. From a Christian point of view, it’s almost like looking at a skeleton and expecting to piece together an entire, living human being. Maybe it can be done. But, right now, the science on that is sketchy.
There is a legitimate fear of turning to God. There are many false prophets. The Bible said there would be. And how will we know them? We will know them by their fruits. Torn bushes produce thorns. But grape vines produce grapes. We will know false prophets by what they are producing.
Yet, a robust philosophy is probably what is needed if we would like to seek truth and wisdom. And that, as a former philosophy student, is what I, at least, signed up for.