The Puzzle of Empty Philosophy

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.  
- Colossians 2:8

Have you ever seen people talk about the conflict of science and religion or the conflict between reason and faith? A lot of times people assume that it’s one or another, right? Atheists will often say that believers must “check their brain at the door” when entering a church building. On the flip side, people of faith may often feel that people without faith are slaves to their reason or their intellect, a slave to science, and should open up their minds and hearts to spiritual things. There is a sense in which passages like the above may seem to confirm that dichotomy between faith and reason. However, God created the mind and the natural world. How can using one to understand the other be outside of, or in conflict with, His wisdom or will?

You may also have heard others say that there is no such conflict; when understood properly everything works together in tandem, right? We’ve all heard terms like “reasonable faith” which simultaneously confirm and deny the dichotomy. And yet there are still (broadly speaking) 2 firmly oppositional ways in which people interpret the world, one in which there is no God, only matter and one in which all matter is created by and in service of a creator. This informs how we think about everything and how we live, not only our origin theories or our explanations for certain scientific phenomena, it is the lynchpin for how we understand morality, human interactions, our responsibilities to one another, to ourselves, and to our natural home on earth.  

God created the mind and the natural world. How can using one to understand the other be outside of, or in conflict with, His wisdom or will?

People in both positions are working from the same set of data, we have access to the same information, the same offerings of the natural world and brains that operate on the same principles. And yet God says that one of these worldviews is rebellion against him:

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
-James 4:4

In my mind, it is like a sudoku. Have you ever done one of those puzzles where there is a grid of numerals, 1-9, which must appear once each in each horizontal row and once each in each vertical row? To solve it you are only provided with a few of the correct numerals in the correct positions. From there you have to solve it by figuring out where each other numeral goes using only the data points provided. A person solving it correctly and a person solving it incorrectly have all the same facts, all the same numerals, are all following the same rules, and all using the same grid. The difference is often down to one single numeral entered in the wrong spot at some point early in the puzzle. That numeral is your lynchpin, it is determining where you enter all the other data. It is not that numbers are incompatible with grids, it is not that there are two different grids or two different sets of numbers. It is that one data point through which you are interpreting all the others.

To deny God is to get that lynchpin numeral wrong. Everything else you add does make perfect sense in context with the lynchpin. It makes MORE sense than the correct way. If you were to add all the other numerals correctly, it would be nonsense, you wouldn’t be able to get there from that point and neither would it be a solved puzzle even if you did. That is, it makes sense until close to the end of solving the puzzle. Eventually, you run into irresolvable errors and you have to either ignore them or trace the error back to the starting point, doing the whole puzzle over from scratch.

All the conclusions of those who deny God make the absolute most sense...

All the conclusions of those who deny God make the absolute most sense in a world where there is no God. The problem is not the conclusions, the problem is the lynchpin numeral. The data is correct, the process of interpretation is correct, the fundamental assumption through which it is being interpreted is completely wrong and that throws off the entire puzzle, it creates a fundamentally flawed worldview, not just in application, but at its core.

Faith is either the lynchpin to interpreting the world, or it is not and that is what it means to choose this day who you will serve.  

posted by Daily,
November 07 18

Daily Nourish serves to encourage Christians to honor God with all their heart, mind, soul & strength and to love their neighbor as themselves. Thanks for stopping by!


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