Western Culture

Faith and Reason, Augustine and Aquinas

Philosophy presents us with many ultimate questions about life. How do we find the answers to these questions? Thinkers have proposed both faith and reason as ways to answer them. Popular culture today presents faith and reason as if they are incompatible. Some say faith is just the failure of reason by choosing to believe something without evidence. Others say reason is inadequate and that we just need to make a "leap of faith." Is this true? Are faith and reason really in conflict? Two very influential Western thinkers, Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, would disagree. They both thought faith and reason could work together, that faith and reason worked best when they reinforced each other, not when they were separated. Join Adam as he talks about the ideas of these two great thinkers.

Introduction to Metaethics

Metaethics is the study of what makes something good or bad. It is not the study of what is good or bad, but why there are such things as moral good and moral bad. What is morality? Where did it come from? There are many theories of what morality is; some think morality is subjective and depends on individual people, cultures, and circumstances. Others believe that morality is objective, that it is independent of human beings. Most theists think that morality comes from God, but many atheists claim that God is not necessary for morality. Non-naturalists, for example, believe that morality can exist objectively without God. Thinkers throughout Western history have defended many positions, both subjective and objective as well as theistic and atheist ones. Listen in as Adam gives an overview of the different metaethical theories.

What Is Philosophy? Why Study It?

What is philosophy? Philosophy can sometimes be a hard word to define since our culture uses it in many ways. However, the academic study of philosophy could be broadly summed up by three areas of study: the study of existence (metaphysics), the study of knowledge (epistemology), and the study of ethics. Philosophy deals with big ideas that shape cultures, including ours, and the ideas of our cultures shape how we think. Philosophy attempts to answer ultimate questions: Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? If we want to understand how our culture thinks and why it promotes the ideas it does, we have to understand the philosophy that gave birth to those ideas and the history of how they came to be accepted.

Is Faith Reasonable?

Faith and Reason: Popular culture today presents these two things as if they are incompatible. Many claim that faith "fills in" where reason stops, or faith is just the failure of reason by choosing to believe something without evidence. Is this true? Are faith and reason really in conflict? In this talk, Adam explains the history of how we got to this place and how people have viewed truth throughout the pre-modern, modern, and now post-modern history of Western culture. He shows that, as the pre-modern thinkers thought, faith and reason really aren't enemies; in fact, they work together.

Natural Law and Christian Apologetics

The 2014 movie Interstellar brought to the forefront the conflict between a modern way of thinking and a postmodern way of thinking. The modern way of thinking emphasizes science and the idea that the physical universe is all that exists, whereas a postmodern way of thinking focuses on trusting our feelings. Interstellar argues that love is more than physical, that it transcends the universe and should guide our decisions. Adam agrees that love is more than physical, but if so, we need an explanation for why love exists. Christians argue that we can know that goodness and love exist, and this is best explained by the fact that God exists. Love is good for human beings, and we can learn what’s good for humans by looking at human flourishing. We can learn moral principles from God’s creation. This is sometimes called “Natural Law,” the idea that God built objective moral principles into his created order that we can discover by considering creation. Adam discussed these topics on the “Theology Matters” podcast with Devin Pellew.

The Thought and Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer was a very influential theologian and philosopher at the beginning of the era of modern Christian apologetics as it was making a comeback in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. He ran the L’Abri ministry in Switzerland from the mid-1950s until his death in 1984 where he helped many people discover and think through the answers to hard questions about Christian faith. What made Schaeffer so influential and able to engage the culture with the truth of Christianity so effectively? What was Schaeffer’s apologetic methodology and how has it shaped the way we do apologetics today? Adam was interviewed on the “Theology Matters” podcast with Devin Pellew to discuss these and other questions about the thought, apologetics, and life of Francis Schaeffer.

Created to Know: The Epistemologies of Michael Polanyi and Francis Schaeffer

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

During the mid to latter part of the twentieth century, thinkers from various disciplines spoke out against the epistemological conclusions of Modernism. Some of them thought that the modern view of human knowledge had been a major impetus behind the carnage of World War I, World War II, fascism, and communism. One such thinker, Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), a world-renowned physical chemist, recognized that this incomplete understanding of knowledge had become especially prevalent in the scientific community. He turned to the study of philosophy in order to explore how these ideas came about and to propose a much needed course correction.