Back to Square One
Terry Dashner………………Faith Fellowship Church PO Box 1586 Broken Arrow, OK 74013
We’ve come full circle. We’re back to square one. It has been a long journey filled with theologians, philosophers, scientists, and even atheists. Each has given his say. Each has stimulated thought and some have befuddled us, but everyone has had their say. And what have they said?
Saint Augustine of Hippo introduced Christian church to Aristotle. Saint Thomas Aquinas introduced us to scholasticism and its original intent backfired in face of Roman Catholicism. Instead of training great minds of Middle Ages for philosophies of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, it ignited fires of Reformation. But each man had his say.
The Reformation brought us Peace of Westphalia after thirty years of war in Europe. But long before war, we had a Renaissance. Remember. According to Stanley J. Grenz, “It elevated humankind to center of reality, proposed principles that anchored scientific method, and unleashed forces that would undercut political and cultural dominance of Roman Catholic Church.” Francis Bacon (1561-1626) bridged gap between Renaissance and Enlightenment. He emphasized experimentation. In Bacon’s New Atlantis he described idea society. Above all society would look to science as its new savior. He had his say.
We moved from Bacon’s “knowledge is power” or knowledge mediates power over circumstances—altering our circumstances to match our desires. (Knowledge also brings violence with power, but Bacon overlooked that minor detail.) We moved into Age of Reason. Again Grenz reminds us, “It replaced God with humanity on center stage in history. Medieval and Reformation theology viewed people as important largely insofar as they fit into story of God’s activity in history. Enlightenment thinkers tended to reverse equation and gauge importance of God according to his value for human story.” God is dethroned. Man is enthroned. And men have had their say.
In early times Anselm gave us a maxim, “I believe in order that I may understand.” The Age of Reason reversed maxim: “I believe what I can understand.” The Age of Reason told us that God existed, but He was far removed from man. This doctrine—Deism—gave us term: “Nature’s God” and “natural law.” And then came philosophers. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is often referred to as father of modern philosophy. He told us to doubt everything but one’s own existence. Said he, “I think, therefore I am.” He teamed with Isaac Newton’s orderly laws of motion and developed a philosophy that has lived for 300 years. Because man stands alone as observer in universe, he can learn laws of universe through knowledge and eventually turn world into a utopia. What a crock. But he had his say.