Discussing philosophy may not be your cup of tea but you are actually serving up cups of it all the time. So how well are you doing it?
Consider the following…
…a teenager may say to her father at the dinner table one evening, “Dad, my social studies teacher told us today that sexuality is basically just a cultural thing and that each culture has established its own terms of right and wrong. Is that true?” What if the father were to say to her, “No, the Bible says there are clear laws that God has put in place for what he intended sex to be.” She may well hesitate and respond, “But my teacher does not believe the Bible.”
The father is right in dealing with the problem for himself, but he puts his daughter in the untenable position of positing a conclusion without defending her source of authority. If the teacher were to name the Bible as the authority, then the issue would be simpler. But if the Bible is denied this place, the father has sent his daughter into the lions’ den with nothing to defend her.
World View Foundations
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
- Hinduism’s world view – our problem is we don’t know we’re are part of the divine.
- Buddhism ‘s world view – our problem is our wrong desires and that’s why we are the way we are.
- Islam’s world view – is one of fatalism. It is as it is, there’s nothing you can do about it, god made you and you are totally at his mercy in whatever he may decide to do.
- Naturalism’s world view – reality is only that which we can sense, there is no supernatural dimension, we are all products of accidents, there is no purpose or meaning to life.
- Christianity’s world view – God created us, we rebelled against Him, He reached down to save us from ourselves.
- “Level one states why we believe what we believe.” It is based on logic.
The first level is the foundation, the logical basis of the whole thing. Not exactly the stuff of romance and excitement yet if truth is to be found, it needs to be discovered at this level.
“In short, level one deals with why one believes what he or she believes and is sustained by the process of reasoning, incorporating truth and logic.”
- “Level two indicates why we live the way we live.” It is based on feeling.
This second level of philosophy isn’t constrained by academia. It comes at you via a play or novel or the various flavours of the media (TV, internet, movies, music etc.) It has been used powerfully to shape societies as it does so at the gut level and often, without having to logically justify its messages.
As such, it can be the most powerful and destructive level with individuals and societies living unstable lives based purely emotion. What are you and your loved ones watching with unquestioning minds (if it feels good, it is good)?
“Unfortunately, even many churches have given in to thinking almost exclusively at this level, as evidenced in their worship and preaching. But we shortchange our audience when we divorce our preaching from serious engagement with difficult ideas and instead preach at the level of emotion.”
- “Level three states why we legislate for others the way we do.” It is philosophy applied to reality, where the rubber meets the road, why we bother with this in the first place.
“The third level of philosophy is what I call “kitchen-table conclusions.” It is amazing how much of the moralizing and prescribing in life goes on during casual conversations. The setting can vary from sidewalk cafés, where frustrated philosophers pontificate on profound themes, to the kitchen table, where children interact with their parents on questions that deal with far-reaching issues. The question may arise out of the latest nagging news item or scandal of the day, or it could be a question raised in the classroom, such as the one posed by the daughter to her father.”
One must argue from level one, illustrate from level two, and apply at level three.
- I well recall an exchange I once had on the campus of the University of the Philippines in Manila. A student from the audience shouted out that everything in life was meaningless.
I responded by saying, “You do not believe that.”
He promptly retorted, “Yes, I do,” to which I automatically countered, “No, you don’t.”
Exasperated, he said, “I most certainly do; who are you to tell me I don’t?“
“Then please repeat your statement for me,” I requested.
“Everything in life is meaningless,” he stated again without qualification.
I said to him, “Please remain standing; this will only take a moment. I assume that you assume that your statement is meaningful. If your statement is meaningful, then everything is not meaningless. On the other hand, if everything is meaningless, then what you have just said is meaningless as well. So in effect you have said nothing.”
The young man was startled for a moment, and even as I left the auditorium, he was pacing the floor and muttering, “If everything is meaningless, then …” And so it went!
- On one occasion I ran up against this very question from a news reporter. I had just finished lecturing at a university, and she had very graciously stayed through the entire lecture even though she had other pressing engagements.
After the lecture was over, she was walking beside me and said, “Can I ask you a question that really troubles me about the Christian?” I was glad to oblige. “Why,” she asked, “are Christians openly against racial discrimination but at the same time discriminate against certain types of sexual behavior?” (She made more specific references to the types of behavior she felt we discriminated against.)
I said this to her: “We are against racial discrimination because one’s ethnicity is sacred. You cannot violate the sacredness of one’s race. For the same reason we are against the altering of God’s pattern and purpose for sexuality. Sex is sacred in the eyes of God and ought not to be violated. What you have to explain is why you treat race as sacred and desacralize sexuality. The question is really yours, not mine. In other words, our reasoning in both cases stems from the same foundational basis. You in effect switch the basis of reasoning, and that is why you are living in contradiction.”
There was silence, and she said, “I’ve never thought of it in those terms.”
You see, when an argument is taken to the first level, it immediately finds a common point of reference. When it leaps only to the third level, it builds without a foundation….