Hey TD, I know Nathaniel’s essay was scary :), but this next one in The Cosmic Cube series is scary too … in a different and in a “Gulp, this is what I’ve been eating all this time???” kind of way. Robert does a fantastic job dissecting hollow philosophy and pointing us to Real Philosophy.
Please keep up with these essays! If you do, you WILL be changed for the better!
“The intellect, as a means for the preservation of the individual, develops its chief power in dissimulation; for it is by dissimulation that the feebler and lest robust individuals preserve themselves, since it has been denied them to fight the battle of existence with horns or the sharp teeth of beasts of prey. In man this art of dissimulation reaches its acme of perfection: in him deception, flattery, falsehood and fraud, slander, display, pretentiousness, disguise, cloaking convention, and acting to others and to himself, in short, the continual fluttering to and from around the one flame—Vanity.” – Nietzsche
Philosophy teetered on the edge of emptiness when Friedrich Nietzsche made his grave declaration in 1882: “God is dead.” The roots of this tragedy reach back twenty three years to Darwin’s The Origin of Species. The theory of evolution, according to Nietzsche, liberates man—at a high price. It renders the idea of God unnecessary, which erases any standard of objective morality. Morality becomes merely a “herd instinct” that can be manipulated by the first person who that realizes its arbitrariness. But however freeing it seems to do away with belief in God, Nietzsche knew that truth, significance, and purpose would also vanish.
His words in the opening quote give an account of how man’s intellect developed. In the battle for survival, a certain species of hairless ape was pathetically unable to defend itself against lions, tigers, and bears. As more of their species were eaten, these apes stumbled across the key to power—deception. With some practice they excelled in blending in with their surroundings and setting traps. Millions of years later they are at the top of the food chain and the strongest are the ones who have deceived the rest of their race. Now if it is deception that has caused humanity to thrive so far, then what is truth but weakness? Could there even be such a thing as truth? Or is truth, as Nietzsche described, only a “mobile army of metaphors… illusions of which one has forgotten that they are illusions”?
When the foundations of reality are ripped from its moorings, humanity will necessarily spiral into the gravitational pull of futility. Nietzsche was consistent in his worldview—he believed that the exclusion of God would bring about the bloodiest century that the world has ever seen. Two world wars, seven genocides, and countless suicides stand in testimony to Nietzsche’s words. Neither did he escape the emptiness of his philosophy. Severe insanity marked his last eleven years before his life ended in darkness. Today, postmodernists seize his disdain for truth and wave it around in triumph, forgetting the terror that comes with it.
This is the pinnacle of philosophy? This is what man has to show after his millennia long search for wisdom? If so, then the room of reality that we are confined in is so small it’s stifling. Yet, it is not surprising if we remember that philosophy is the “love of wisdom”. The wisest man in the world before Christ said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). In rejecting God’s laws and denying His person, philosophers have shackled themselves to a wall with the keys to wisdom right in front of their eyes but forever beyond their reach. Their speculations on the ultimate questions of life can only produce “empty deceit” (Col. 2:8).
Obviously we don’t want to search for treasure in shiny jars, sweating from the effort of prying them open, only to find that they’re empty. So what should Christians do with philosophy? Should we then hate wisdom? No! Solomon urges us to “seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure” (Prov. 2:4). The question is where (or in whom) we seek wisdom. We must look to Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). Seeking wisdom brings life because when we seek true wisdom we are actually seeking Christ, and the wisdom he provides is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). His wisdom is skillfully and lovingly lived out in everyday life—a far cry from lie-exalting lies of Nietzsche.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not wisdom that comes from above, but is earthly, unspiritual and demonic.” – James 3:13-15
– Robert Chan