Friday, 4 November 2011

Sophie's World, Banal Compared To Christ's

'Sophie’s World' caught me because of the easy to read resume of the world’s philosophers. Full marks to the author for this. But the clarity of his resume made it clear that after so many years of philosophy, the outcome is really rather banal. Take the pretentious ‘Philosopher’s Garden Party’ towards the end where two fifteen year olds start to kiss at the table. An adult says, ‘Not at the table, children’, and our hero philosopher asks, ‘Why not?’ Justifying himself with, ‘It’s never wrong for a real philosopher to ask questions’. Is that what makes a philosopher ‘real’? Any fool can ask questions. It doesn’t make the philosopher real, just banal. Or take the chapter on the Big Bang, fascinating in its detail, but then we have to put up with this – ‘we are a spark from the big fire…that’s a beautiful thought too’. It’s not beautiful. It’s banal. And useless. How on earth does it help anyone it we all think of ourselves as ‘sparks from a fire’. It makes human life and morality meaningless. In fact this whole resume underlines that philosophy is largely useless. In its nearly 450 pages not once do our philosophers seriously address the issue of humans suffering. Instead most of their time is taken up with how we know that we know. They spend time with the question nobody is asking, but ignore the question that pierces most people’s lives. Useless. And of course when we get to the 19th and 20th century, the arrogance of the philosophers – especially Nietzsche, Freud, Marx and the followers of Darwin - makes the whole endeavour positively evil, as experienced by the poor Germans and Russians whose leaders ate the philosophers’ fare and come up with Nazism and the Soviet Union. Banal, useless, and evil – that’s what Sophie’s World resume confirms about philosophy. Compare that to Christ’s world. Two billion people find meaning for their lives and morality in His world view, they don’t see themselves as ‘sparks of a fire’, but as creatures made in the image of God put on earth to worship and serve Him. Nothing banal there.
Two billion are comforted by His answers to human suffering offered in his death and resurrection. No arm-chair banality there. And wherever his followers have gone, so too have the hospitals, the orphanages, the schools, and ‘good’ works. Nothing evil there. Thank you Justein Gaarder for making clear once again the answer to Tertullian’s famous question – ‘What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?’ Nothing. 

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