There are many people today who are highly educated, but yet, when it comes to their thoughts on religion and philosophical matters, they can be incredibly atrocious. How can this be? How can it be that people can go to great schools and get degrees and be said to have a good education, but at the same time seem to make arguments that are just ignorant?
A friend of mine here goes around to various schools and gets to speak about Christian apologetics. I have pondered what it would be like to go there and ask “Why are you in school?” Now some might be there because they have to be and they’ll give that answer, but many will say they are there to learn. I could also ask about those who plan to continue their education afterwards why they plan to do such a thing.
What if the answer is that one is there to learn? That answer only goes so far though. Why are you wanting to learn a bunch of facts? Is it simply because you want to be a Jeopardy contestant someday? One should not learn facts simply for the sake of learning facts. One should try to understand the pieces of the puzzle so they can understand the whole.
Could it be that is where we have fallen short?
Do we teach people to try to understand reality as it is? We try to teach them facts about reality but we do not teach them how to analyze reality. It is like showing various angles and parts of the puzzle but never telling anyone that all of these angles and parts are supposed to go together and to form a cohesive whole.
Or it could be that many don’t think the cohesive whole even exists….
Thus, philosophy and religion get downgraded as one can surely know things about a philosophical idea or about a religious belief, but these are not seen as coherent in anyway. They have no connection whatsoever to the real world. It is the idiots of society that look at the world and assume some sort of theistic mindset.
In the medieval worldview, theology was the queen and philosophy was her hand-maiden. Both of these were to work together. The sciences were underneath them. This is not to downplay physical sciences of course. They have their place and it is an important one. We are to be grateful for all that they have done for us, but let us not dare think that the peasants have uprooted the queen and started their own government!
With our interest in facts though, we are getting there. One knows about religion the way one is to know about fairy tales, but one is to be educated and know the facts of science. Of course, I’m not denying that there are facts in science. I will deny though that science is the only method that can give us truth and if something isn’t scientifically demonstrable, it isn’t true. (And if you think I haven’t met people with that kind of stance, think again.)
Today then, mankind believes he lives in a disjointed world and doesn’t see how the picture fits. It is because he has lost sight of that puzzle. He has forgotten that his goal is not to understand pieces of reality, but to understand reality. He is to learn to analyze what goes on in the world around him and see how it fits into the nature of the whole.
This is one reason also science needs to reclaim the concept of the final cause. The final cause in Aristotlean thought is the purpose for which something is. When we see a system in space we can ask why it is that way. What purpose does it have? When we watch anything else in science, we can raise up that same question believing theris a mind who made it that way for a reason.
In this, we are to remember that we serve the God of all truth. What I learn in philosophy and theology relates to what someone learns in science which relates to what someone learns in economics which relates to medicine which relates to politics, etc. There is too much out there for one man to know all of it, but we can work together and learn Truth.
And we must remember this. We are all to be metaphysicians in some sense. We are all to spend some time pondering ultimate reality. It’s good to know facts, but if one doesn’t know how to reason through facts and realize a deeper message, one could simply be one of the ones that proclaims themselves to be wise and becomes a fool.