Why Should The Christian Study Philosophy? (Agency part 1)

I have entered into discussions with a person concerning a
question in philosophy. The next several posts will be an attempt to answer
this question.

The question is rather abstract. In summary, it is this:
Can any being act as an agent, causing actions and thoughts? Or are all actions
and thoughts caused by another? Would the act of a person originating a thought
or action be creating something from nothing, a violation of the law of
causality?

As I have been thinking through this question, it strikes me
that it is a good example of why the Christian should study difficult and
abstract questions, which are often the topic in philosophy.  So before I attempt to answer this question, we should take a moment to consider the implications and consequences to the Christian. If the answer is no, agents cannot originate thoughts, the following
would be the consequence:

  1. The bible would not be the word of God, for God
    could not have created thoughts.
  2. The world would operate mechanically, so that
    all events are inevitable and predetermined.
  3. Christians would not be able to express a faith
    in Jesus.  Rather, all actions would be
    predetermined and any expression of faith would be caused by another, not by
    the Christian.
  4. No one would be able to do good works, for all
    actions would be predetermined, and neither “good” nor “works” would exist as
    something we could generate.
  5. Free moral choice for either good or evil would
    be an illusion.
  6. Jesus would not have voluntarily acted to die
    for human sin, for no acts are voluntary.
  7. True Love and hate would not exist in the
    classical definitions of the terms, but would instead be predetermined
    mechanical actions, not caused by the individual, but caused by another.
  8. God would not have created the world, at least
    not voluntarily and by His choice, for all acts would be predetermined, even God’s.
  9. Creation itself would not have happened, and the
    world will not end. All events are an everlasting cycle of mechanic events that
    has neither beginning nor end.

In summary, if beings cannot be agents that originate
thoughts and actions, then the Bible is untrue, Christianity is wrong, and
human free will and morals are an illusion. The need to answer such questions
then becomes obvious.

That Christians have too often shied away from abstract
philosophical questions has undermined the essential doctrine inside the
church. We ignore these philosophical questions at our peril. As C. S. Lewis
said, “Good philosophy must exist, for bad philosophy must be answered.”

The next few posts will be an attempt to systematically
answer the question of whether agency exists in beings.

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About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why Should The Christian Study Philosophy? (Agency part 1)

  1. Pingback: Thomistic Bent

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