Sunday, May 03, 2015

Philosophy reflection #1: Thales

If Herodotus is the "Father of Western History", it can safely be said that Thales of Miletus could be called the "Father of Western Philosophy." The hallmark of Thales' philosophy was his process of thinking, which could be characterized as observing natural matter, making hypotheses and drawing conclusions divorced from the consideration of the supernatural or mythology. Of those thinkers before Thales, of whom we have little to no record, it could be said they started with the gods, and Thales started without them. Thales didn't lean on the stories of the gods; he turned away from them.
Thales would not go on to say there was no god, but that god was in all things (quite eastern in his thinking in this way). However, when it came to natural phenomena, Thales was the first to begin with what we now call the empirical method, trusting only what he could observe to make his hypotheses and draw his conclusions.
Now, I'm not one to call another a fool, nor do I wish to call Thales a fool. I didn't know the man! I'll just say I believe the Scriptures, which I believe are of the Living God, so I'll say, I believe God when He says, "Only fools say in their hearts, 'There is no God.'" (Psalm 14:1b NLT)
What's my point in all of this? I think Thales was wise to observe natural phenomena. I think he was wise to think and test and observe. I think he was wise to look at what was seen in the natural order of things, but I think he was wrong to begin without the supernatural.
Why?
Simple... I believe and HONEST look at what is will lead to a plain understanding of what ALSO IS. Paul would say it like this: "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:19-20 ESV)
In simplest terms, if one starts looking determined NOT to see God, one will close one's eyes, minds and hearts to Him. However, if one looks with any honesty, they will see a design, thus a Designer, and if a Designer, intelligence, will, personality, etc.

Are we willing to discover what is? Who is? 
Are we willing to observe and understand? 
Are we willing to be students in every area of our lives?

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