If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
- James 1:5-8
Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
- Jude 1:22-23
“Voltaire refutes the idea of certainty in two ways. First, he points out that apart from a few necessary truths of mathematics and logic, nearly every fact and theory in history has been revised at some point in time. So what appears to be ‘fact’ is actually little more than a working hypothesis. Second, he agrees with Locke that there is no such thing as an innate idea, and points out that ideas we seem to know as true from birth may be only cultural, as these change from country to country.
“Voltaire does not assert that there are no absolute truths, but he sees no means of reaching them. For this reason he thinks doubt is the only logical standpoint. Given that endless disagreement is therefore inevitable. Voltaire says that it is important to develop a system, such as science, to establish agreement.”
- Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained
François Marie Arouet (1694-1778), known under the pseudonym, Voltaire, had a serious spiritual problem. James would have called it double-mindedness. But before we get to that, the authors and editors of the quoted book often minimalize Christianity in their explanations of the philosophy of various thinkers. Before they say anything about Voltaire, they set up the philosophy of doubt, the Age of Enlightenment as it is called, with running two Christians under the bus.
I doubt (oops, I used the word) that I quote Scripture as much in my writings as did John Locke in his. Locke indeed felt there was no innate ideas, No Room for Innate Ideas, but can you be so confident in both your philosophy and your belief in Jesus that you believe that Jesus will reveal Himself to the elect in profound ways, experiential ways? And from mere physical experience, we do not experience the spiritual, true Jesus until we accept Him without reservation. This is the possible reason why these philosophers writing a book do not get it. You cannot get there through intellect alone; you must experience Jesus on the spiritual level only after an unconditional surrender. Ouch! For all the evangelists of today that do not like “blind faith” discussions, there is an element in conversion to true Christianity where you take the word of others blindly, and you listen to the Holy Spirit’s call as He convicts you of your sins, to blindly step forward into a world of no return, but a world of Joy, Hope, and Love.
The other Christian with bus tire marks all over him is Sir Isaac Newton. Maybe you have your ideas about the Age of Enlightenment, but just a cursory look at Sir Isaac Newton’s writings and you will find an inquisitive mind who had one goal, to find out how God did it, not questioning God at all. He never questioned God, or that God existed. He examined God’s Creation to apply some of those mathematical truths that Voltaire accepts to such things as gravity.
While the philosophers of the era, many of them, engaged in the Age of Enlightenment by turning out the Light, others were seeking to know God more intimately.
So, with that in mind, let us look at this philosophy of doubt. I love how the author/editor speaks of Voltaire not ruling out truth, only that he could not see it. Today, people emphatically deny that objective truth exists. My two arguments against that are 1) that if it were true, that statement would then be objective truth, thus a contradiction, and 2) that if it were true, why become educated? Anything that you would then learn is not really true or maybe not or maybe so. I could sit at home and scroll the internet and get a more definitive grip on reality than that. It would probably give me a headache, but I am willing to make the attempt, although I know the source of Truth.
But I tip my hat to Voltaire, who is so handcuffed by doubt that he even doubts his own philosophy. “There is no objective truth, but then there could be, maybe, maybe not. But thank you for buying my book.”
But if we make that unconditional surrender and accept Jesus wholeheartedly, we discover what Jesus said. Jesus is the Way. Jesus is the Truth. Jesus is the Life. God the Father breathed life into Man, and we owe Him everything.
Without the risk of losing his intellectual integrity, Voltaire would never know what was on the other side of the curtain. With God, there is objective truth by the bucket load.
Do we have to give up our intellectual integrity? Absolutely not, but for someone who does not make that commitment to Jesus Christ, it may seem that way. The world has already begun to run in the opposite direction. “No objective truth” has led to all sorts of insanity being accepted “truth” in this non-truth world.
But we can rely on God, the same yesterday, the same today, and the same tomorrow.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.