The Flimsy Foolishness of Worldly Wisdom
The ignorance of contemporary philosophy
During my first college experience, I took a senior seminar in philosophy. At that time in my life, I had rejected God, and the appeal of intellectualism made me feel important. Philosophy was something scholars studied, and only really smart people could handle it.
I wanted to be counted among the smart people. I don’t remember much about that class except for the heavy reading load. All the books were printed with small fonts, which probably contributed to the mystery. Much of it made no sense.
Although it’s been way too many years since that first experience with philosophy, I now understand why I didn’t understand it. I don’t think it’s meant to be understood. I think it’s meant to create confusion, cause one philosopher to feel superior to another, and for people to respond with awe about something “profound.”
Basically, some dude spends a lot of rumination time coming up with an argument or an idea that is different from everyone else so he can feel more important and gain some attention for a while for this “new idea.” But most of the “new ideas” are wispy, and they certainly don’t make anyone feel any better.
As Bett Harris noted in her recent article, the subjective truth-ing so pervasive in contemporary society directly correlates with increased misery in the world.
All of this subjectivity comes from postmodern philosophy. I have had the pleasure of auditing some undergraduate college courses in philosophy, and in my adult mind, I still think it is ridiculous. I read the Bible, and my faith is strong, probably contributing to a level of discernment regarding Truth.
What I find interesting is that in college-level Philosophy 101 courses, the book of Ecclesiastes is decidedly missing. King Soloman is considered by many to be one of the wisest men in history, so why is this book not in a philosophy course?
Another missing bit of brilliance is C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man. Although known for his work as a Christian, this book is a work of philosophy that he wrote before becoming a Christian. In it, he foretells the destruction of a society that educates its children with no moral code or absolute truth.
Also missing is the news that a couple of the world’s “most revered” philosophers became Christians before they died. In his book, Is Atheism Dead? Eric Metaxas shares evidence of three notable late-life conversions to Christianity by Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Antony Flew, some of the most influential subjectivists in philosophy.
Young college students are not getting the full philosophical story, are they?
This is why self-learning is so important. If people rely solely on teachers to dispense knowledge, only a biased version will be presented. This is frustrating on several levels, especially since it is obvious a majority of young people are not learning. They are glued to screens and getting dumber. But that’s for a separate article.
In reading 1 Corinthians 1 today, I had to laugh.
Starting in verse 18, Paul explains a little something about the difference between a worldly approach to philosophy and the Word of God. He explains that clever speech, intellectualizing, and philosophizing appeal to people’s brains, but the message of Christ appeals to the heart.
The two do not exist in the same space. That’s why he said,
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction. (1 Corinthians 1:18, NLT).
One cannot use reason and logic and philosophy to understand who Christ is and why he died for our sins. This is a message directed toward the heart.
So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. (1 Corinthians 1:20, NLT)
I laughed out loud when I read that verse. I laughed with joy.
All these scholars and academics influencing our children and our politicians and changing traditional systems so God is not part of them, are trying to light a candle in the wind.
I wonder if God was working on this non-believing college student during that senior seminar. Perhaps the Holy Spirit was nudging me, telling me that the words of those philosophers in small type were foolish.
The world needs truth, and there is only one Truth.
Things feel very upside down, but let this sink in:
God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. (1 Corinthians 1:27–29, NLT)
Our human reasoning is foolish. The quest for intellectual knowledge apart from God is foolish. What the world considers important, God will bring to nothing.
The days I feel overwhelmed at the ridiculousness of what is happening in the world today, I hold fast to God, whom I trust above all.
For some great free philosophy courses, check out Hillsdale College.
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