Restless, I was awake at 3:30 AM this morning; by 4:00 AM I had given up sleep and begun my morning exercises. On the CBC Radio One program “Ideas” the viewpoints of poet-philosopher Martin Heidegger were contrasted with those of empiricist Rudolf Carnap. Their 1929 debate probed the meaning of “nothing” and led to as yet unresolved tensions regarding the very nature of philosophy. The question: is philosophy closer to art, or science?
The discussion was amusing yet brought to mind several warnings of scripture: “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking,” Paul cautioned the Colossians (Col. 2:8). “Avoid foolish controversies” he urged Titus. (Titus 3:9-10). To Timothy Paul emphasized “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the pointless discussions and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.” (1 Tim. 6:20). And James reminds us all, “Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 3:15).
Now I thank the Lord for the great apologists of the faith, the defenders of truth, those skilled intellectual debaters who can clearly refute such “opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim. 6:20, NIV). Paul himself engaged with the philosophers of Athens (see Acts 17:16-32). But Truth comes only from God. Philosophy plays with the mind but, as the story of Job so clearly illustrates, the answers of infinity are not intellectual.
The wise believer will combat philosophy with the Truth of God, by “the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11). “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor. 1:21). “We do not use words that come from human wisdom,” explains Paul. “Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.” (1 Cor. 2:13). “For the wisdom of this age is foolishness with God” (1 Cor. 3:19).
A man with an argument is always at the mercy of the man with an experience. “Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know,” said the former blind man. “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:23).
What is “Nothing”? “By faith we understand…” (Heb. 11:3).
I think now I will try to catch a nap!
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