The Thinker by Auguste Rodin
Photo credit: Drflet (CC-By-SA 3.0)
The Thinker by Auguste Rodin Photo credit: Drflet (CC-By-SA 3.0)
The Thinker by Auguste Rodin
Photo credit: Drflet (CC-By-SA 3.0)

I responded to David’s challenge yesterday with the famous philosophical proposition made by¬†Ren√© Descartes as proof of one’s existence – “Cognito ergo sum.”

“I think, therefore I am.”

I wasn’t being serious, and I was reminded why preparing to lead this week’s discussion group my church is having on the book How Now Shall We Live by Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey. ¬†Colson addressed this proposition as being instrumental in Western culture making a shift from a culture of life to a culture of death.

He writes:

The beginning point might be fixed in the seventeenth century, when French mathematician¬†Ren√© Descartes resolved to doubt everything that could possibly be doubted. ¬†After intense inner questioning, Descartes concluded that he could doubt everything except the fact that he doubted, everything except his mental experience. ¬†This conclusion led to his famous statement, “I think, therefore I am.” ¬†With this, Descartes unleashed the revolutionary idea that the human mind, not God, is the source of certainty; human experience is the fixed point around which everything else revolves.

Ironically, Descartes was a sincere Christian, a devout Catholic, to the end of his life.  But there is nothing Christian about his philosophy.  By establishing the human mind as the judge of all truth, his philosophy eventually rendered God irrelevant.  And since traditional notions of morality and social order are largely derived from Christianity, these moral conventions likewise crumble when God is dismissed as irrelevant or nonexistent, (pg. 119).

Thank you Mr. Descartes.  We have experienced the proverbial slippery slope ever since.  The human mind has limits.  Our capacity to know can only stretch so far.  What we know is because of what God has allowed us to see.  We are limited, but God is limitless.  He is omniscient and we are not.  We are to love God with our minds, not make our minds our god.

David’s challenge seems to be a futile effort by human means (not to take away any of his thunder when he writes his follow-up post. ¬†God is the author of truth. ¬†He is THE Truth and we are not. ¬†We exist because in Him we live and move and have our being.

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