Monday, August 31, 2009

Philosophy & Ethics

Lesson 2: Philosophy & Ethics

What is the "cosmic cube" -- and can we live there? Dr. Tackett uses a box to illustrate the Naturalistic worldview that many in our culture embrace. The box consists of all matter, energy, space and time -- the physical universe -- and Naturalism demands that this "cosmic cube" is, in the late Carl Sagan's words, "all that is, and ever was, and ever will be." This week's discussion focuses on how such a philosophical point of view plays out, how it matches up with the Biblical worldview, and how our lives are affected by the implications of such a view of reality.

Philosophy

Philosophy is defined as the "love of wisdom." It is the practice of contemplating and reasoning our way to find the truth. Though many Christians shy away from such an endeavor, it is perfectly consistent with the Biblical worldview to engage in philosophy. In fact, we are told that we are to "contend for the faith" and "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God" so that we will not be "taken captive through hollow and destructive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

Naturalism is one of them. If all reality only consists of the stuff in the box, there can be no such thing as purpose, spirit, soul, mind or meaning. Everything just "is." All effects are physical, or material, in nature. A necessary implication of this idea is that there can be no such thing as free will. All events in cosmic history are determined from the beginning when the first domino fell. The thoughts you think and the decisions you (think you) make, are nothing but the result of chemical reactions in the physical matter of your brain.

Obviously, each of these is antithetical to the claims of Christianity and the result is an extension of the "cosmic battle" in which we are all engaged.

Ethics

Most of us use the terms morality and ethics interchangeably. But, as R.C. Sproul points out, this is a mistake that plays right in to a non-Biblical view of right and wrong. Morality says what is. Ethics addresses what ought to be.

Our relativistic culture wants to say that society says what is right and wrong and that each of us, being products of the society they were brought up in, hold to our views because we have been programmed to think the way we do. Notice that this explanation may try to explain how we come to know what is right or wrong but it cannot in principle explain the existence (reality) of the concept of good itself. We can get an is from our culture but we cannot get an ought.

On the Christian worldview ethics, like truth, is a real thing that exists "out there" that we work to discover, not create.

This is not to say that a naturalistic thinker cannot be moral/ethical. Of course they can. Whether they realize it or not, they are also made in God's image and are subject to the same reality as everyone else. Maybe they are more ethical than me. But, in claiming to be moral/ethical, the materialist cannot explain the foundation of such a thing. They have to "smuggle in" Christian concepts to live their lives.

They do it all the time.

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