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Author Topic: Is Philosophy antithetical to Orthodox Christianity?  (Read 2677 times) Average Rating: 0
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Matthew777
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« on: January 24, 2007, 10:15:55 PM »

One of the major tenets of philosophy is the willingness to question everything and anything, even the merits of one's own religious faith. This zest for answers may seem dangerous but, like in the case of Descartes, can ultimately confirm and strengthen one's faith. Apostolic Tradition is excellent when one is able to provide supportive evidences from Scripture and patristics, yet appeal to tradition on its own is an informal logical fallacy. (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-tradition.html)

If Origen can be attacked for practicing philosophy rather than theology, does this suggest that there is an opposition between philosophy and Orthodoxy? Can an individual have the willingness to question the doctrines and practices of Orthodox Christianity while still remaining an Orthodox Christian? Furthermore, can an Orthodox Christian learn or teach philosophy at a public college, and be serious about it, without compromising his faith?

Peace.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2007, 10:59:27 PM by Matthew777 » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2007, 12:11:03 AM »

If your religion doesn't stand up to the hard questions...what good is it?
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2007, 12:15:39 AM »

If your religion doesn't stand up to the hard questions...what good is it?

Exactly my point.
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2007, 12:39:23 AM »

So Matt, your a Nietzsche fan eh? So am I! And a quote by him that I absolutely love always comes to mind when I see the threads you start.

"That everyone is allowed to learn to read will in the long run ruin not only writing but thinking, too." 
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2007, 12:47:39 AM »


Can an individual have the willingness to question the doctrines and practices of Orthodox Christianity while still remaining an Orthodox Christian?

I believe it is vital that we are willing to do just that. We aren't mindless robots programmed to follow an autocratic system. If Orthodox doctrine and practices can't be questioned, they probably are not worth the bother of adherence.    
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2007, 01:10:43 AM »

Matthew, I don't think that there's anything wrong with philosophy and a big part of theology is actually philosophy with regards to God and religion...The only thing is that the church sets a boundary or limit for philosophy/theology beyond which it is unable to probe and simply adores in awe the mysteries of the incomprehensible God...Sometimes philosophy, well when used as a tool in the hands of man, can be a source of arrogance probing into issues and questions and attempting to establish conclusions on matters which are beyond man...I thing much of the scholastic philosophy attempted to do this and I think the Cappadocian fathers also were very cautious to set limits to the use of hellenic metaphysics to delimit the Christian faith...

I also think that we can question many things Matthew, and some more than others...Obviously then there are those matters of faith which hold such a level of authority that they cannot so easily be questioned...
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2007, 03:05:24 AM »

"That everyone is allowed to learn to read will in the long run ruin not only writing but thinking, too." 

Whether you like me or not, almost every question I ask on this forum has merit, even if I don't ask it in a satisfying way. It would be better for you to follow the rules of logic and Christian charity rather than insinuating personal attacks.
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2007, 03:08:05 AM »

Obviously then there are those matters of faith which hold such a level of authority that they cannot so easily be questioned...

Please elaborate. How do we realize the limits of human knowledge without first asking every possible question?
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2007, 03:50:55 AM »

Please elaborate. How do we realize the limits of human knowledge without first asking every possible question?

Matthew, I think you pose a very good question and I think we need a sense of moderateness when dealing with such issues therefore I believe there is to some degree often a struggle between the philosophical skepticism that you are proposing and the philosophical dogmatism that may be espoused by some. Here is a link that may be useful:

http://skepdic.com/skepticism.html

In many ways many articles of faith cannot be so easily questioned as they transcend the intellectual activity of philosophy and repose in the realm of divine mystery and revelation...Therefore, the faith is not so much an intellectual activity to be debated and fought over by academics but much more a spiritual revelation which the saints and fathers of the church encountered in their theosis...and perhaps made use of philosophy in order to express such mysteries as best they could...Wisdom itself is a gift of the Holy Spirit and likewise knowledge and understanding...

Therefore, being cautious as not to fall into a kind of philosophical skepticism, a dangerous slippery slope which believes in nothing, the church, saints, fathers, scripture and tradition as emissary of the divine was capable of establishing certain truths with a particular level of certitude...Perhaps other matters have not been so well established while some clearly have been...

As an example, in patristic theology a father of the church to be described as such is required to have four necessary qualifications which include antiquity, holiness of life, orthodoxy of doctrine, and ecclesiastical approval...

Therefore, I think that when you step out of philosophy as an absolutely intellectual activity and acknowledge it, while at least in the realm of theology, as an expression of mysteries which transcend intellectual activity and which is beyond the grasp of simply every and any academic or to be confined to the microscope of a university professor; then the objective certitude that is God alone is revealed and expressed more authoritatively through both the ecumenical church and her saints... 

Furthermore, in your personal journey as long as matters are subject to simply intellecutal inquiry then there will always be some level of skepticism...I suppose every person has doubts in their life...Such doubts can only really be dispelled, and a clearer vision of the divine obtained, through your own spiritual journey, progress and growth in life...This is Orthodox spirituality: Purification -> Illumination -> Glorification...

"When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth...and He will tell you things to come." (Jn 16:13)
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2007, 03:58:08 AM »

Therefore, being cautious as not to fall into a kind of philosophical skepticism, a dangerous slippery slope which believes in nothing, the church, saints, fathers, scripture and tradition as emissary of the divine was capable of establishing certain truths with a particular level of certitude...Perhaps other matters have not been so well established while some clearly have been...

What if one desires not to be skeptical of church doctrine but seek evidences to reinforce church doctrine? Descartes may have questioned everything, even his own existence, but ultimately it only strengthened his commitment to Christ. I would like to know, as a student of philosophy, whether my academic pursuits are antithetical to my religious faith.
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2007, 04:02:17 AM »

What if one desires not to be skeptical of church doctrine but seek evidences to reinforce church doctrine? Descartes may have questioned everything, even his own existence, but ultimately it only strengthened his commitment to Christ. I would like to know, as a student of philosophy, whether my academic pursuits are antithetical to my religious faith.

Philosophy in itself is not antithetical to any religious faith, however the philosophical conclusions you reach may be. What may also be antithetical is the presupposition that philosophical enquiry maybe entirely sufficient in order to be able to grasp divine mysteries...
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2007, 04:06:24 AM »

What may also be antithetical is the presupposition that philosophical enquiry maybe entirely sufficient in order to be able to grasp divine mysteries...

We don't know whether the truth is a mystery until we first attempt to understand it. Not everything incomprehensible should be discarded, but no facet of human knowledge is beyond question.
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2007, 04:13:47 AM »

Whether you like me or not, almost every question I ask on this forum has merit, even if I don't ask it in a satisfying way. It would be better for you to follow the rules of logic and Christian charity rather than insinuating personal attacks.

I'm drinking Corona right now. With a slice of lime inside of it.  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2007, 04:16:04 AM »

I'm drinking Corona right now. With a slice of lime inside of it.  Smiley

Good for you. Please keep in mind that the body is a temple of God.
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2007, 04:29:16 AM »

While I'm drinking my Fantastic (that's fantastic with a capital F)  beverage, I am also listening to 104.9 Funky Monkey and thumbing through my extremely expensive book my auntie bought me for Christmas!

It is called A Byzantine Book on Dream Interpretation by Maria Mavroudi. Quite fascinating it is.
 
 
 
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2007, 04:34:19 AM »

Depends on who you ask. I could give dozens of references from Chrysostom alone about not doubting, not asking questions, not trying to use reason to understand things of faith (e.g., why is satan here?), etc. Obviously most modern people don't find such advice very satisfactory. Do what you think best, that's what we all do anyway. Don't let it give you anxiety if it's not what so-and-so thinks is right--whether so-and-so is John Chrysostom, Justin, or a perceived God.
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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2007, 12:11:13 PM »

Would you agree then that a formal education in philosophy can actually be helpful for one's faith?
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« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2011, 08:16:31 AM »

Would you agree then that a formal education in philosophy can actually be helpful for one's faith?

It depends on the person I suppose. For some, I'm sure it will strengthen their faith. But then there are those like me, who have probably had their faith negatively impacted by philosophy.
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« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2011, 09:34:50 AM »

For the true thinker the deconstruction of reality by questioning accepted institutions and relativism towards reality is only the first step of attaining knowledge. The reconstruction of reality by understanding the phenomenon that exist and their analysis leads to full knowledge.
I think that Decartes did not give up religion because, back then, it was an accepted rule that everything is questionable but the rule of the Christian Church was unquestionable. The mediaeval age and the Renaissance were abundant in magnificient discoveries in law and philosophy (the interpreters' revolution -read Pierre Legendre) but their point of reference was different from ours. (vide the text from Athanasius in Italics)

The question whether Christianity is compatible with philosophy exists in all religions.
Philosophy is useful in explaining the tenants of the Faith, but in the hands of the Church it is but an instrument of accomplishing the implementation of the Kingdom of God by seducing human thought toward the lust of things unspeakable, invisible and utmostedly divine. 

Something I'd like to comment on is the use of the word "logic" towards the Christian religion. The word logic is rooted in the Greek LOGOS.
The rules of scholastic logic attain a value of null within reference to the Divine. Philosophy has this problem that it interprets logos as an assortment of sounds/symbols, something we produce. The Theo-logos is not just a symbol but it is a reality born of the Father, once in eternity and once incarnate. The logos, the logic of philosophy is lifeless and formalistic. The logic, the logos of God is alive and material in being. To attain salvation we must reject the rationality of common sense and accept the so-called irrational, the logic of the Logos. With the questioning of human existence in its current state, we deconstruct reality, we destroy rationality to accept the true ratio of being. The ascetical quest for the re-creation of the primordial intelligence, which classical philosophy has maintained is the ideal is misguided. The quest for primordial consciousness of the cave vide Plato, shows the dirty face of factually true knowledge. One has to go beyond logic and small l logos to understand the logic of the city of man.
I suggest reading Athanasius's Oratio contra gentes 40

Athanasius Against the Heathens 40
40. The rationality and order of the Universe proves that it is the work of the Reason or Word of God.
Who then might this Maker be? For this is a point most necessary to make plain, lest, from ignorance with regard to him, a man should suppose the wrong maker, and fall once more into the same old godless error, but I think no one is really in doubt about it. For if our argument has proved that the gods of the poets are no gods, and has convicted of error those that deify creation, and in general has shown that the idolatry of the heathen is godlessness and impiety, it strictly follows from the elimination of these that the true religion is with us, and that the God we worship and preach is the only true One, Who is Lord of Creation and Maker of all existence. 2. Who then is this, save the Father of Christ, most holy and above all created existence , Who like an excellent pilot, by His own Wisdom and His own Word, our Lord and Saviour Christ, steers and preserves and orders all things, and does as seems to Him best? But that is best which has been done, and which we see taking place, since that is what He wills; and this a man can hardly refuse to believe. 3. For if the movement of creation were irrational, and the universe were borne along without plan, a man might fairly disbelieve what we say. But if it subsist in reason and wisdom and skill, and is perfectly ordered throughout, it follows that He that is over it and has ordered it is none other than the [reason or] Word of God. 4. But by Word I mean, not that which is involved and inherent in all things created, which some are wont to call the seminal principle, which is without soul and has no power of reason or thought, but only works by external art, according to the skill of him that applies it—nor such a word as belongs to rational beings and which consists of syllables, and has the air as its vehicle of expression—but I mean the living and powerful Word of the good God, the God of the Universe, the very Word which is God John 1:1, Who while different from things that are made, and from all Creation, is the One own Word of the good Father, Who by His own providence ordered and illumines this Universe. 5. For being the good Word of the Good Father He produced the order of all things, combining one with another things contrary, and reducing them to one harmonious order. He being the Power of God and Wisdom of God causes the heaven to revolve, and has suspended the earth, and made it fast, though resting upon nothing, by His own nod. Illumined by Him, the sun gives light to the world, and the moon has her measured period of shining. By reason of Him the water is suspended in the clouds; the rains shower upon the earth, and the sea is kept within bounds, while the earth bears grasses and is clothed with all manner of plants. 6. And if a man were incredulously to ask, as regards what we are saying, if there be a Word of God at all , such an one would indeed be mad to doubt concerning the Word of God, but yet demonstration is possible from what is seen, because all things subsist by the Word and Wisdom of God, nor would any created thing have had a fixed existence had it not been made by reason, and that reason the Word of God, as we have said.
source: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2801.htm
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