Philosophy is a strong interest of mine, and I’ve read works by a number of notable philosophers. Some people regard philosophy as nonsense, but I vehemently disagree, and I claim that it’s a genuine science. Whereas the study of science involves the scientific method, and philosophy doesn’t, they both share strong scepticism and doubt. Oxford dictionary defines ‘philosophy‘ as the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. Science was born from philosophy and many of the most notable scientists throughout history have been philosophers, like Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, as philosophy arms scientists with theoretical thinking and questions. Both philosophy and science attempt to remove doubt to get to a truth, and with this in mind I don’t think either can work without the other.
“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance” – Socrates
Natural philosophy is about studying nature and the universe in its physical form, and this is an area that Isaac Newton was interested in, and it usually partners biology and physics. So regarding the title of this article, can a theist truly philosophise, if philosophy is about the nature of knowledge and reality? They can, but I’m not convinced they can do it whilst viewing the world as God’s creation, and any true philosopher who’s seeking the truth of reality cannot do it through a biased perspective. I don’t think philosophy can be influenced by prejudice or biased opinions, as you aren’t going to get to the truth. You’ve got to be rational, ask the right questions, and use the evidence that you have.
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” – Isaac Asimov
The debate over philosophy being a science has gone on for a long time, and philosophy precedes science, and science evolved out of philosophy, but philosophy also evolves as we acquire more knowledge of the reality we are in. Science is derived from the Latin word ‘scientia’ which means ‘knowledge’. Philosophy is derived from the word ‘philosophia’ which means ‘love of wisdom’. The Oxford dictionary defines ‘wisdom‘ as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement. Philosophy is usually broken down into several key areas and these are:
• Aesthetics – a set of principles concerning nature and the appreciation of beauty
• Epistemology – the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope
• Logic – reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity
• Ethics – the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles
• Metaphysics – the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality
• Science – the foundations, methods, and implications of science
“philosophy’s contribution can take at least four forms: the clarification of scientific concepts, the critical assessment of scientific assumptions or methods, the formulation of new concepts and theories, and the fostering of dialogue between different sciences, as well as between science and society.” – Source
Is the philosophy of religion an oxymoron if philosophy deals with reality? Canterbury Christ church university made this ridiculous claim, ‘Even the dullest person can see that religion is, once again, the most important factor in the world.’ I whole heartedly disagree with this statement, and for reasons that you are all probably aware of, as I’m not shy in expressing my distaste for the arrogance of religion, but claiming it’s the most important factor in the world, and putting it before humanity and other sentient life is absolutely disgraceful. How can you take the philosophy of religion seriously if they can’t even think critically? I could probably list 100 things more important than religion.
As I’ve already stated, philosophy is about studying knowledge, but can there be true knowledge when the evidence is subjective? Because 9 out of every ten in this world have belief in a god, doesn’t mean they are correct, and considering there are many gods, and many interpretations of the same gods, it’s got no basis of fact. If everyone believed in the same god, then there’d at least be a common argument, but they don’t. St. Augustine of Hippo claimed that God was eternal, incorruptible, and necessary, which are all subjective. We don’t know he’s eternal, or incorruptible as it’s just speculation that the Christian god exists, and I can say with absolute certainty that he’s not necessary for me.
The works of Plato and Aristotle had significant influence on early Christian theologists, and despite both of them being clearly intelligent men, their thoughts were abstract at best. Thomas Aquinas was a keen follower of Aristotle’s work and he believed that his philosophy and theology could move the Christian doctrine in a new direction by applying reason and revelation, but surely they are adversaries? According to Oxford dictionary ‘revelation‘ means the divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence, and ‘reason’ means the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgements logically. I was involved in an exchange on Twitter several days ago and the person I was engaging claimed that he used faith and logic. A similar principle to what Aquinas proposed, but you can’t accept something on faith alone and claim to have reached your conclusion using logic.
”Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.” – Bertrand Russell