The book titled Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective by Norman L. Geisler and Paul D. Feinberg deals with the issue of Christianity and the Christian vision of history of philosophy. Geisler and Feinberg strived to define the philosophy as the study, gave reasons to study it, and assessed its practical impact. It is concluded that philosophy, as a study, should be valued and that Christianity deserves being seen as a valid perspective on the world.
The key advantage of the book is that the authors showed the true value of philosophy without referring to the issues in contradiction with Christianity. As it is noted in a book, Christianity and philosophy both stand for the search for truth. Just as philosophers seek for answers and eternal truth, Christianity is founded on the search for truth (wisdom) as well. I agree with Geisler and Feinberg that Christianity and Philosophy are very close in its fundamental values and principles.
Moreover, Geisler and Feinberg pointed out that some of philosophical principles and values are opposing to Christian beliefs. Nevertheless, the book was not written with the aim to diminish the value of either Christianity or philosophy. I agree with the idea that there is no reason to study philosophy while rejecting Christianity and there is no reason to study Christianity while rejecting philosophy. Definitely, these studies are truly different; however, both are focused on the same objective – finding the truth. Thus, Christianity and philosophy compliment each other.
There is no need to mention global division of community on followers of the Bible who believe in every word written in the Holy Book and scientists who reject the creation story promoted by Christians. Philosophy is different from other sciences such as mathematics or physics because it is based on ideas, thoughts, and reasoning. Philosophical assumption and hypothesis cannot be proved using scientific methods.
Christian beliefs, similar to philosophical assumption, cannot be proved scientifically as well, however, Christian worldview can be justified and validated using the philosophical standards. Geisler and Feinberg provided in-depth investigation and analysis of such issues as nature of knowledge, reality, and ultimate truth (God).
Christianity, as a religion, is philosophical in its essence. Christianity does not support many philosophical aspects, however, it is hard to deny the validity of the saying that “Christianity can stand up to the intellectual challenge mounted against it (Philosophy). The result of such a challenge should not be the loss of faith, but the priceless possession of a well-reasoned and mature faith.” (Geisler and Feinberg, 22)
Neither philosophy nor Christianity can be understood with logic. The chapter on God has caught my close attention. Every person, believer and non-believer, has asked himself a question whether God exists. It is a mistake to think that philosophy and Christianity offer opposing answers to this questions. On the contrary, philosophers promote the assumption that there is an ultimate truth and they devote their lives to finding the way to this truth, to defining the essence or purpose of life. Christians, at the same time, believe in God as a representation of ultimate truth and are devoted to becoming closer to God, as a way to find purpose of life. Philosophy from Christian perspective is similar to religion aimed at defining the right and wrong, the truth and illusion.
Ethics and logic are tools of philosophy, while belief is a tool of Christianity. However, phenomenological methods, induction and deduction, analytical and existential methods are vital for philosophy as well as Christianity. Philosophy seeks the answer to the question what is right and whether the moral duties are in conflict. According to Christianity, there is a clear boundary between right and wrong and right moral duties are never in conflict. According to philosophy, the definition of right and wrong is not stable and can be changed overtime. However, both Christians and philosophers strive to find universal definition of right common for all people. As Geisler and Feinberg wrote, Christian definition of right as described in the Bible is philosophically sophisticated.
Geisler and Feinberg noted that people have sufficient reasons to believe in God. This short notice indicates that Christianity is validated with philosophical assumptions. Christianity is an ideology, not a science based on evidence. The book Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective is not based on creationism theory, however. According to creationism theory, there are events that occur regularly and there are events that occur once in a history.
Regular events are studied by science, while one-time events are studied by philosophy and religion. Geisler and Feinberg titled philosophy as the science of origins. Philosophy from Christian perspective does not reject science, but rather accepts the existence of supernatural.
Geisler and Feinberg wrote that there are two kinds of causation: primary and secondary. Science relies on secondary causes while philosophy and religion rely on primary causes. Primary causes (the so-called God Hypothesis) undermine some of the scientific principles because God is believed to have superpower to act at His pleasure in a random manner. I totally agree with the idea raised by Geisler and Feinberg that lack of understanding does not indicate that something is not true.
It is hard to define truth as a general term because no one has the right or power to tell what is real and what is not. For example, if a person violates the law because he is not aware of the law, he believes in his actions being right. Evidently, his actions are wrong because the law determining right and wrong actions exists. The same logic is applied in philosophy with the only difference that no one is aware of the right answer.
The historical debate among philosophers and scientists over the issue of existence and human being is caused by lack of knowledge of the truth. People tend to believe in things they can observe and experience. Philosophy, on the contrary, is founded on idea that there are things that are beyond human comprehension, thus they are beyond human understanding. The inability to experience these things does not indicate that these things do not exist. Technological and scientific advances foster understanding of wider range of events and phenomena. Philosophy seeks answers to the questions that are beyond of scientific explanation.
Geisler and Feinberg are apologists and their beliefs can be traced throughout the book. In particular, they noted that Hume equated evidence with probability. Thus, if a person dies, he remains dead, therefore, resurrection is impossible. Using the same logic, a person wins the lottery only because all other people lose. It is impossible to reject the validity of this example; however, there is another side of the argument. It is probable for every person to win a lottery, while only one person at a time can actually win (evidence).
Returning to the book, the second part is devoted to knowledge. Geisler and Feinberg strived to give answers to such questions as can humans know, how people can know, is certainty possible, are beliefs justified, etc. I totally agree with Geisler and Feinberg on these issues. I believe that humans can know, that certainty is not possible, and that beliefs are justified. If to accept the assumption that God can act, it means that there are actions of God. It is impossible to prove or disprove existence of God, thus, every person has the right to make his own choice whether or not to believe in God.
Philosophy and Christianity are based on personal choice. Unlike science that sets strict limits of right and wrong, philosophy allows uncertainty being valid. One person might believe in God and Biblical story of creation, another person might believe in evolution and science, while the third person might be hesitant on the issue. Geisler and Feinberg stressed the value of personal choice and justified the validity of all arguments that are not proved or disproved. If there is no empirical evidence to disprove an idea, belief, or assumption, it means that truth is not found and, therefore, all of the alternative views can be right.
In conclusion, philosophy, as a discipline, is open for diverse ways to find truth. Christianity limits the quest to one path for truth through Bible. I agree with the main ideas of Geisler and Feinberg and I support their philosophic reasoning. Philosophy as well as Christianity is founded on the belief that truth exists and every person is inner-motivated to find this truth. Whether or not there is an ultimate truth is still an open question and, therefore, there are no universal definitions of right and wrong. Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective is not a manual or guidance for action. On the contrary, Geisler and Feinberg tried to link philosophy and Christianity into one coherent piece of writing devoted to answering debated questions. The book was published 20 years ago, however, the issues covered by Geisler and Feinberg impress with their actuality.
Geisler, Norman and Feinberg, Paul. Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective. Baker Academic, 1987.