Barely 18 years old, I ran down the hall to make it on-time to my first class. Philosophy 101. I loved that class, despite the fact that my Dad scheduled it for 8am (he said something about still being responsible now that I was in college). We spent each class discussing the big questions. Questions like what is truth? How do we know what is true? Does God exist? Are we free? I was enthralled. Where had philosophy been all my life? I remember thinking, “why don’t people talk about this stuff?” It seemed to me that my freshmen philosophy friends and I were on the verge of solving some of life’s biggest questions and all it had taken was 4 weeks.
Then I started to realize a pattern. We would vigorously study each question and the surrounding issues. Then we would study the solution to these issues. Just when I was thoroughly convinced we had the mystery solved, we’d flip the page in our textbook and learn that the solution was a solution and each “solution” had its own issues that needed to be resolved. We would study and argue over which was the correct solution and right when I hit utter confusion–we should switch to a new question. I used to think we would come back–but we never did. At least not in Intro to Philosophy. Which was a good thing, ’cause if Alice had known how deep the rabbit hole went, she may never have majored in philosophy.
It’s what people hate most about philosophy. Philosophy asks all the right questions and gives us so few answers. You think when you study philosophy you get great at solving problems but you don’t really. You just get really good at asking the right questions. At looking at a problem from multiple angles. At breaking it down until you see if there are ANY flaws, whatsoever in the logic. You can be sure in philosophy that if you don’t spot your own problem that someone eventually and mercilessly will.
Philosophy taught me the truth of Proverbs 18:17:
The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17 (ESV)
People always ask me why I got a philosophy degree and what I do with it. One of the best things I’ve learned from philosophy is to never fully trust an argument you’ve only heard one side of.
It was there in Proverbs all along, but the agony of unanswered questions in that 8am philosophy class burned it into my memory.
When someone points out a problem in my faith…
When someone wants me to be on their side of a relational issue…
When I’m convinced Cheyne doesn’t know what he’s talking about…
I remember…the one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. Postpone judgment ’till you’ve heard the other side. And don’t show up to your 8am philosophy class expecting all the tough questions to get answered.
Life’s just a little more complicated than that.
Where are you quick to jump to conclusions?
Which of your beliefs could stand to be cross-examined?