The First Thing

“If we don’t know that there is such a person as God, we don’t know the first thing (the most important thing) about ourselves, each other and our world. This is because… the most important truths about us and them, is that we have been created by the Lord, and utterly depend upon him for our continued existence.”

Alvin Plantinga

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How to Read a Philosopher

1) Avoid looking merely at the problems and answers that a philosopher discusses.

2) Always try to follow the philosopher’s underlying way of thinking; try to understand his assumptions and motivations.

3) Ask yourself:

  • Why is he asking these questions?
  • Why is he asking them this way?
  • Why does he think these questions are important?
  • Why does he give the particular answers that he does?

– Nicholas Wolterstorff

Philosophical Powers

You can’t always count on philosophers to have a sense of humour, but Ian Vandewalker, from the New York University of Law, has shown that the discipline can be more than syllogisms and supposition. By combining the zeitgeist of the superhero genre with the colourful cast of characters in the history of philosophy, he has created Philosophy Powers, a mock action figure collection that no thought experiment or Cartesian evil demon could have anticipated. In a word: epic.

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Indelible Impressions

“Of the existence of self, of the world round about us, of logical and moral laws, etc., we are so deeply convinced because of the indelible impressions which all these things make upon our consciousness that we need no arguments or demonstration. Spontaneously, altogether involuntarily: without any constraint or coercion, we accept that existence. Now the same is true in regard to the existence of God. The so-called proofs are by no means the final grounds of our most certain conviction that God exists: This certainty is established only by faith; i.e., by the spontaneous testimony which forces itself upon us from every side.”

Hermann Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, tr. William Hendricksen (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1951). Quoted by Alvin Plantinga in his paper “The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology” (Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association,Volume 54).