Science, Philosophy, Prophecy
In discussing various topics on my website I draw upon various sources of truth, of spiritual authority. Of course, the Bible is a key source of truth, after all, it is the inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God. But it is not the only source of truth.
This article describes where else I look to for truth.
Various terms I use...
Science cannot contradict the Bible and the Bible cannot contradict science; it's that simple. Both are sources of truth.
That being said, not all scientific proclamations are actually true. Certain claims will surely be changed in the future (as they were changed in the past) and certain claims are not even in the realm of science at all.
I accept the following scientific observations as accurate...
I accept the foundational orthodox Christian teachings...
Regarding miracles: I believe the Bible accounts of miracles are true, and I believe miracles can still happen today (but they are rare).
The domain of philosophy is unprovable with scientific experiments. From the ancient Greeks continuing into our modern day, philosophers continue to muse about the nature of reality and of human nature. Having studied some of their views I conclude they have not framed the questions correctly. Philosophy should address the spiritual realm as it relates to God's plans and purposes; it should have as its focus: (1) the soul and (2) the spiritual realm.
Early philosophers tried to explain the non-material aspects of reality in the same way scientists explain the physical realm; inventing laws and constructs. For example, for the physical realm we have: space, matter, time, energy, the natural laws — everything can be explained in terms of these. But these can never explain such things as: consciousness, evil, love, emotion, passion, thought, memory, etc., etc.
Philosophers fill the void by creating non-material constructs such as: form and substance, Freud's ego and id, universal ideas, perfect intelligence, the soul as the principle of life and movement, causality, perceptions and impressions and ideas, categorical imperative, Hegel's dialectic, utility, reality as the embodiment of rationality, dialectical materialism, God is dead, the Will to Power, the Superman, determinism.
I should note there are many astute observations and much truth in the statements of Philosophers.
It seems to me what is missing here is the proper distinction between the physical realm and the spiritual realm. The spiritual realm contains all things living such as souls, ideas, memories, thoughts, symbols, culture, God, spiritual beings, etc., etc. Philosophy is, really, just the study of the spiritual realm, the study of the soul.
I am especially interested in the question of consciousness because it is the most troublesome to science; it is unsatisfying to merely assert that consciousness is explained if you can map brain activity to conscious experience.
The problem with philosophy is there are so many systems, each contradicting the others, none leading to the essential conclusion and purpose of life which is God. I propose we abandon all this and frame philosophy in terms of the essential reality, which is...
Therefore, I developed my philosophical system with the above goals in mind. Since the purpose of life is God, the purpose of philosophy is to study life, to study the soul and its interaction with God. So, in encountering philosophical topics, I merely reframe them in the context of Christianity.
Most prophecy is specifically for the people of the time — or at least that's what they think; they understand it from their culture and historical circumstances. The images make sense to them and the prophecy is understandable. But often, it's also about the future, even yet-future from today. The images weave around each other, sometime emphasizing one, sometimes the other. Time frames lurch wildly from one scene to the next.
Many biblical prophecies are unclear. Perhaps some made sense to someone in the past but the meanings are now lost to us. Perhaps some are literally fulfilled only in the spiritual realm, a realm having spiritual bodies and spiritual creatures including the souls of humans; both deceased as well as still living.
My policy is: if I can't demonstrate a given prophecy has such and such a fulfillment, I drop it. There is no other source of truth to measure these against as there is with scientific factors. Although I do propose theories and explanations for many Biblical topics, I am unwilling to stake a claim on a certain interpretation of a prophetic passage, especially one that may be yet-future. I will not announce once and for all that I have discovered the true meaning.
A proposition is a sentence, a statement, having truth value (true or false). Truth is concerned with whether propositions match reality. This assumes we have 100% certainly. But there are considerations about perception, the processing of the brain, the nature of reality (material vs merely a mental construct), and others which make this 100% certainty impossible. (I am 100% certain of this.)
Even such abstract propositions as: 2 + 2 = 4, assume things about the mental realm. I think the best course is to assume that truth can be known only with a high probability of certainly, never with 100% certainty. We use induction as well as deduction to determine truth, and the conclusions of induction are never 100% certain.
Christianity is based on truth, upon truth claims regarding the Bible, the person and nature of Jesus Christ, the human condition in this sin stained universe, and the proper way to practice the Christian religion. (Yes, Christianity is a religion, notwithstanding those dum-dums who insist "it's a relationship, not a religion".) The Christian faith uses the ingredients of truth, belief, faith, and knowledge.
Fundamentalist evangelical Protestants generally assume the Bible provides them with 100% certainty about the truth claims of the gospel and that we should believe these, meaning, we should accept them as if they are true. Then, we live out our lives in faith based on these beliefs. The assumption is that belief and knowledge are the same things.
Philosophy uses the words belief and knowledge having different meanings. Both concern truth — about whether the propositions match reality. Belief is when you think they do: but maybe they do, maybe they don't. Knowledge is when these propositions actually do match reality. So it is possible (likely?) someone's belief is wrong belief, belief without knowledge. We should prefer knowledge over belief.
But even knowledge is never 100% certain. Faith is the important aspect of: (1) when we assess propositions, (2) determine them to be highly likely as being knowledge (rather than mere errant belief), and (3) most importantly, live our lives and base our thoughts, attitudes, and behavior as if they are true. (Note: I am not considering the role of works in faith, I address this topic elsewhere.)
My conclusion is that the gospel is true but that most of Christianity has made serious errors in understanding its nature and practice — even the apostles made some errors. Yet in spite of this, putting faith in Jesus Christ, the Nicene Creed, and the Bible (as interpreted via Church History and human history) is the only sensible way to live.