FROM THE PASTOR
“We say therefore that God is a living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal belong to God; for this is God.”
Can you guess who wrote these words? They come from a long time ago. It could certainly be a Christian or Jewish teacher, but it is neither. They actually come from the pen of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He lived and worked three hundred years before the time of Christ.
This may surprise you. It certainly got my attention as I was reading The History of Western Philosophy. I took this book along on vacation one fall. It puts all the famous names I have floating around in my head into proper order. It traces the development of the thought patterns that shape the world we live in today. The Greeks were the first to try to think their way to truth. This is the essence of philosophy. Aristotle was one of their great thinkers and his thought led him to a god, not unlike the God revealed in Scripture.
I think that this is significant. We have been intimidated into thinking that belief in God is a sign of mental immaturity or shallow thinking. “All the greatest minds have moved beyond belief in God.” Christians, particularly Bible believing Christians, are still tolerated, but are relegated to a cultural subclass. “We know that God stuff is very important to you, but when you want to join the real world, it will have to be set aside.” This judgmental attitude really hits our children in the face when they go off to secular universities. They are often viewed like Hillbilly relatives who are tolerated as long as they don’t embarrass anyone, or try to have any real say.
Unfortunately, atheism has become a defining trait of modern philosophy. It is not hard to see how this happened. If human beings are to be as important as we think we are, we cannot have anyone standing above us judging our thoughts. The human intellect is the pinnacle of evolution and the ultimate standard of truth. These atheist philosophers believe that they have cut themselves free from the crude superstitions of primitive humanity. They all agree to treat belief in God as inferior, and sadly, the rest of us buy into it.
Aristotle defies these assumptions. He was an intellectually gifted man who tried to make sense of reality. He studied the world, and thought carefully about what he saw. The principles of logic and mathematics were being developed among the Greeks. These disciplines helped focus their thoughts and gave them a way to test their results. Using these tools, he arrived at a god not unlike the one we worship.
Let me state my point very clearly. It is not stupid to believe in God. God created reality in a way that would point back to him. His fingerprints are all over his handiwork. So, if we look carefully and think clearly, what we find will direct us toward him. The heavens declared the glory of God to the psalmist. Intelligent design cries out to modern scientists. The better our equipment has become, the more we learn about the incredible design of the world.
With no known exposure to Jewish Scriptures, Aristotle looked carefully at the universe and recognized the necessity of a good, wise, self-existent creator. Honest, disciplined intelligence can arrive at this conclusion without special revelation.
We depend on revelation first and reason second. We believe the Bible to be God’s inspired Word. In it we find direct insight into God’s works and ways. But, we do not need to fear disciplined thought. The pursuit of truth is never our enemy. We are convinced that all truth points back to God.
Our enemy is blind prejudice that refuses to consider certain alternatives. This is an enemy that can be challenged with the current tools of science and philosophy.