I have atheist friends who share posts on Facebook that poke fun at religion and take a dig at believers like me. Like this – Lord knows, Christians need a sense of humor these days, right? They say belief in a God was understandable back before we knew how the world really worked. Unable to explain the world around us we’d attribute cause to an imagined deity. Afraid of life’s random cruelty we’d take comfort in an afterlife. Then came enlightenment, science the accepted method for investigating and understanding the physical world, and religion a less valid way of thinking. We are rational and skeptical and we should, they argue, reject a worldview incompatible with science. Science and religion conflict.
Alvin Plantinga, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Notre Dame, challenges this post-modern narrative in his book Where the Conflict Really Lies.
‘My overall claim in this book: there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion, but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism.‘
Say to yourself first thing in the morning: today I shall meet people who are meddling, ungrateful, aggressive, treacherous, malicious, unsocial
– Marcus Aurelius
Some 2000 years ago in a cold, wet military camp on the Northern frontier of the Roman empire, an old man would rise early, sit at his desk, and start his day reflecting and writing. He wrote about life, death and what it is to live well. Mostly he wrote to admonish and encourage himself, setting the tone for the day. (more…)
But between theology and science there is a No Man’s Land, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Man’s Land is philosophy
– Bertrand Russell
There is a scene at a bar in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon, the smart but poor kid, humbles the rich but arrogant kid exposing his cleverness as unimaginative regurgitation from books he’s read rather than any original thinking. This pretentiousness is what many of us associate with philosophy. We picture clever sounding arguments from poncy Harvard students, and are skeptical it speaks to anything useful.
I am basically illiterate as far as philosophy goes and in an attempt to cure my affliction I read A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell. He kicks it off with a nice explanation of what philosophy is and why it matters.