10 PHILOSOPHICAL AND EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY
© Carlos Padilla – March 2023
1.- Does God exist and is the creator of the Universe? Which God? How to know God?
The philosophical answer to the first of the great questions, and having in mind the schools of thinking, and some of the first philosophers like Epicure, Socrates, Plato or Aristotle, with regards to metaphysics (further than the physical), has four components: The cosmological argument, which tells us that the universe must have a cause, because all that has a beginning, has an origin and creator; the God of the Bible? The argument of the design exposes that if something shows a design it comes from an intelligent mind, and creation emanates design everywhere, so it must have a designer; the God of the Bible? The anthological argument proves by reason what exists, and if a supreme being exists it must have the perfect attributes, be eternal, without beginning, and it must be knowable; again the God of the Bible? And the moral argument exposes that if objective moral values exist, God; the God of the Bible? must exist and have provided to the human mind. Julian Marias would say that God is the authentic purpose of philosophy. The previous could be related to the title that Theology is the queen of sciences, as it can be read in the central hall of the library of the Monastery of Escorial. The objection of naturalism, of Darwinism and evolutionism, of the anti-theism and the agnosticism, and of the relativism and nihilism, can be read in a Bible Study at: http://www.yahshua.net/Christian-apologetics.htm
Christianity answers to the questions, Does God Exist? Which God? And How to know God? That it is evident that through things made, the universe, the earth, nature and man, with all the design that these have, and the laws of physics, that an intelligent mind has designed and created what exists, and all this as well as an absolute moral show the person of God in the Bible as the creator. The sentence “by the things that are made” comes from an argument of the Apostle Paul in Romans 1, but he said at the Areopagus in Athens to the Greek philosophers, who had made an altar “to the unknown God” and Paul was saying that about that One he was talking about, and that in Him we live and move and have our being, (Acts 17:16-34), something not far from the thinking of Pascal. There is no tribe in the planet, no matter how isolated it is, that does not believe in a supreme being, god, or spirit; it is like an order or search that is in the human mind that knows that there is a God creator. The Bible begins in (Genesis 1) with: “In the beginning God created…”. And the God that exists had to have the attributes of the God of the Bible: eternal, infinite, just judge, faithful, God of the celestial armies, King of the universe, its creator and architect, all-powerful, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, all kind, that loves as much as to the death of His own begotten Son Jesus Christ – Yahshua for us; the list continues. That is the only God that can exist under the philosophical prism and that is the God of the Bible.
And what if we already believe in God, how can we know Him? Jesus says: “… I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). And also says: “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and will remind you all that I have told you.” But for this it is necessary to be born again from the Spirit, because: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3), that was the conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus a wise principal of the Synagogue of Jerusalem.
2.- Where do we come from and why are we here? Origin of man and the universe.
The philosophers, after studying God and the origin of the universe, started to put man in the centre of thinking, to search for his origin. Here we reach a point of connection with the first question, because if we conclude that God exists, and is the creator, we know where we come from. The reason links more easily with an origin in God in connection with “why we are here”, because a God creator can relate with us. But if we do not know where we come from, if one believes in evolution from nothing, chance, etc. “Cogito ergo sum” –I think, therefore I am- is the sentence of the famous Descartes about our perception that we exist because we think, but it does not answer the questions of the origin nor why.
Christianity answers that we have been created by God our Father, who has provided us with the soul and spirit, and has given life to our body, and a mind capable of understanding, learn, and relate with Him and of enjoying the experience of relationships, family, friendship and love. “And He has made from one blood every nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth and has determined their preappointed times sand the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him, though He is not far from each one of us… …since we are the offspring of God…commands all men everywhere to repent, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world with righteousness…” (Acts 17). Read a Bible Study at: http://www.yahshua.net/Christian-apologetics.htm
3.- Where are we going? What future awaits us? Is there life after death?
Philosophy continues its search to answer another existential question about where are we going, that without wanting it relates with our purpose, but we can see it from the individual point of view or as humanity. Philosophy and reason can take us to uncertain answers about our purpose and our future, but can use the history of humanity to foresee that our individual life and as humanity will look similar to what has already happened. But, would we want to know our future if it was really possible? The existentialist Heidegger concludes that man lives to die, a very motivating hope! and that there is nothing else, so he live in anguish.
Christianity answers from the resurrection, which for the Christian is part of the security of salvation that comes from God by His grace, but we believe that all will resurrect, some for eternal life in the Kingdom of God, and others for eternal hell, according to Jesus Christ, (Matthew 10:28). The future that awaits us here is a life of fullness which experiences God daily, but that also knows that this world is not the Kingdom of God and that there is, and there will be tribulation until the second coming of Christ. The Bible exposes the future of the world, of creation and of humanity by the prophecies, which have fulfilled, are fulfilling and no doubt will fulfil without exception. And also knows that the Paradise of God exists to where we are called through faith to be with the Lord for eternity; that is where we are going, that is our future, which prophecies have proven, and we believe in life after death by the resurrection of Christ. Read a Bible Study at: http://www.yahshua.net/resurrection.htm
4.- Who am I? What is my purpose and the meaning of my life?
Philosophy seeks the answer to the identity of the individual since the beginning. Identity itself is an amalgam of components of the body, the soul, the mind and the spirit. For example, DNA is a program of individual biological design that differentiates us from one another and that in some way individualizes us. Philosophers did not know this component of man, but were seeking the answer to, who am I? identity, also in our nature. The answers take into account the difference between each person, including observing two twin toddlers as they are born and how from their birth they already show different characters and different gifts, being that they share DNA, which fascinates us all, not only scientists. But, who am I? Apart from what we bring form birth, adds what we experience in our lives, our circumstance “I am I, and my circumstances” would be what Ortega y Gasset would say, as well as the family, country, education, etc. and we all change with time, though the essence remains. We return to the phrase “cogito ergo sum” far from finding an answer. Are we what we do, our work, profession, etc.? Then philosophy cannot yet answer what is the meaning of our life, nor our purpose, even more what we are and do could provide some light, because if there is no purpose, or we cannot know it, it will take many to hopelessness, to questions values and life itself, but the philosopher will continue to seek his answer.
Christianity does have answers and teaches that who becomes a son of God (John 1:12) by being born again (John 3:3), is a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) and therefore knows who he is since then. This answers the second question about what is our purpose: to know God, as the first thing. From there emanates the meaning of our live. Also, and being that many want to know what is the purpose of their lives, it counts with prayer, faith, the Bible, as well as other brethren with whom to share and find answers from God, who always talks to the heart of the believer in some way. Those of us who know Christ give faith of how He has changed us with His Spirit, and how now we are born again and mature by His presence, discipline and love. Also we count on the gifts that God gives each one, both, those from birth for the secular life, as those of the Spirit for the spiritual life. But, also, many wonder if we have free will or if we are predestined, though they misunderstand the concept of spiritual predestination with the destiny of their lives, being the first one for salvation and the second for our history, which we have to discover with hope and delusion, with faith and virtue. We can pray to God to know our purpose, something the atheist does not count on and begins his adventure according to his thinking, feelings and sensations, and goes drifted influenced by his surrounding, and many times the result is negative, with depression and desperation. Saint Augustine taught about the search of God as what really fills us and gives us purpose in life, what assures our existence and meaning. But we are free to live with God or to sin, since Adam and Eve, and God said: “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil” (Genesis 3:22). Unfortunately we see that we are all sinners, although some look for it and others don’t, there, a distinction begins which makes a difference between one person and another, and which affects its purpose in life and provides answers to who he is, but overall it affects its final and eternal destiny. Read a Bible study at: http://www.yahshua.net/Christian-apologetics.htm
5.- What is truth and how can we know it?
Philosophical thinking concludes that there is absolute truth, relative truth, and other concepts that vary according to each philosopher: for Plato truth was goodness. Reason and science usually teach that truth is some concept, act or reality about something or someone which can be tested, reality, to resume the description of Thomas Aquinas. Pilate himself asked Jesus what was the truth, because Jesus answered him that He had come to give testimony of the truth, and Pilate wanted to set him free from the cross.
Christianity has an answer that changes the perspective of the concept, as we consider the answer of Jesus Christ: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6). Here, He is the truth, and His Word is true. We may also know the truth and the truth shall make us free (John 8:32) through His Word, for God reveals His will and purpose towards us by loving us to save us and offering us to live eternally in His Kingdom, without evil nor sin, but with peace and love of God. The world provides much knowledge that is falsehood, in fact the devil is known as father of lie (John 8:44) and deceives the entire world, today through TV, Internet, social media and networks, corruption and suffering. God is the true source of truth, because He love us and has spoken us the truth, His Gospel which saves us to live for eternal life in His Kingdom through faith in the cross of Christ; who believes this has eternal life (John 3:16) and it is true. Read a Bible Study at: https://www.yahshua.net/digital-gospel/
6.- Which moral and ethics is correct? Is there an absolute law? Who should govern?
Philosophy seeks to know what must be good and what is evil as a moral and ethical code, but it is something subjective because it depends of which code we follow, it cannot provide an absolute code because it changes with time. If we follow one which is absolute and true, then it would be objective and it would give us peace of mind, but, does one like that exists which man has provided? Man cannot provide an absolute code because he depends of traditions, education, and time of history, place and society where he lives, uses and manners, social and political as well as ideological influences, and we see how laws are changed to please the ideologies of the political government of the moment, and it changes in different countries and regions. Some, like the relativists, or the nihilists like Nietzsche say that either all is relative, or that there are no effects in our actions by our ethics or moral, because at the end there is nothing, which is a contradiction in itself, because we see the effects in the immediate and midterm of our actions; and that is without taking into account the eternals. We can learn tolerance, respect different opinions and ways of life, but our conscience will accuse us depending on which code it has inside.
Christianity counts with God having placed a basic conscience which accuses us over what is good and what is evil, although so far the world has separated much, and the majority holds on in a hypocrite way, something the Apostle Paul in the Bible (1 Timothy 4:2) calls “having their own conscience seared.” God’s Law is the absolute moral, and this under the eyes of the New Testament, no longer the sacrificial and expiatory part, and the application of the punishment, which Christ fulfilled on the Cross, and He himself says of the Law: “Because not one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). The validity of the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20).
Who should govern? We have already known all the government systems of history, and see that they may be valid or not depending on the corruption and the purposes of those who are in power. Although it could seam that western democracy permits to fight against absolutism, nowadays man does no longer believe in any system due to the great corruption and deviation there is, where those in power are anguishing the lives of the people with abusive taxes, social injustice, hunger in the world, poverty, immorality and wars. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and will come at the end of time to judge the world and establish His Kingdom, to which by His death and resurrection He offers us the forgiveness of sins, and through faith to enter into eternal life, where justice reigns (Revelation 21 & 22). Read a Bible Study at: http://www.yahshua.net/The-Coming-of-Jesus-Christ-Thessalonians.htm
7.- If God is good, why is there evil and He permits it?
Some philosophers conclude that because there is evil, God does not exist, because they believe that God, the God that must exist, would not permit it in this world. But the world has decided to live separate from God, in sin and under evil. They also argue that God does not exist because by not avoiding evil, He is not almighty nor all kind, but that is ignoring the injustice and the evil of man; John Locke. The problem of evil and of suffering separates many from the faith those who believe that God is obliged to permit us to live to our will and in sin, and they also think He is obliged to provide us so that we are happy and that no tragedies exist living separated from Him, as if He was our servant. Many blame God of all the evil it happens to them, while living that way, and as a pretext say they deny the existence of God and don’t count on Him, nor obey Him. The present world is the result of the drift of man in his eagerness to separate himself from God, and it has remained patent that nor man, nor society are able to provide an order, a moral, a justice and a security and prosperity that only the God of the Bible promises in His Kingdom.
Christianity, on the contrary has a message from the Bible that God will not permit evil in His eternal Kingdom, He will erase it from this world in the Day of Judgment, (Revelation 21 & 22). The evidence is that God does exist and is light, and there is no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5), although both for the atheist as well as for the theist evil exists in this world. What if God has a reason to allow evil in this world? History proves that evil has been used for good. The supreme example is the Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered torture and death on the cross, something which is evil, He suffered even being innocent, but God used that evil for good, for it was the plan of God, accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ – Yahshua, whose fruit is our salvation and the glory of Christ, (1 Corinthians 15 about resurrection). The source of evil started with the rebellion of an angel against God, and the devil kept fighting against God wanting to take His place dragging an army of angel’s demons and after them the man, part of humanity, since Adam and Eve. The reason to allow this is the election that God has given to angels and people, to be free to love Him. Could we argue at a philosophical level that God loves but does not oblige any to love Him? If we conclude that this is that way, and the Bible supports that, it would be logical that those who love God are taken to His Kingdom where they do want to be and love God, and that their enemies and ours, are no more. Read a Bible Study at: http://www.yahshua.net/Christian-apologetics.htm
8.- Does eternity and the infinite exist?
Philosophy finds that the concepts of eternity and the infinite are not parameters that the human mind dominates, but we may understand the concepts of not having beginning or end, or of something without limit, even though we do not experience it in daily life. Malechanbre talked about the perception of infinity through the spirit, that has no limits through reason, and that God is infinite because He has all the ideas of all that He has created. Science studies what happens outside the space-time from physics, but due to the many changes that scientists make as they discover empiric evidence that sometimes contradicts the last discovery, we cannot be sure of which will be the scientific answer to these concepts, nor there is way to measure them.
Christianity teaches that God is eternal, infinite, immutable, complete “without beginning nor end of days” (Hebrews 7:3). Calvin talked about man’s need of the eternal and divine. If the eternal God calls us to live with Him eternally in His Kingdom, the eternity must exist, is part of the Gospel, and is the reason why Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross for us, so that we could go there. If God was not eternal, He would have not been able to create the universe; He would be limited in time and capacity. Jesus teaches about the judgment to the nations that the result is eternal: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment and the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46), “for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (Paul – 2 Corinthians 4:18). Read a Bible Study at: https://www.yahshua.net/EternalMansions.htm
9.- Is the soul immortal?
Philosophy looks into the soul to connect it to the mystical part, the spiritual, the relationship with God. Plato taught that the soul was immortal, and was not the only one of the Greek philosophers that believed that it had divinity and could not die. The philosophical answers are many times insufficient for the mind hungry of knowledge, and this one reaches to science, thinking it will find an answer to the metaphysical questions; one has to try. Plenitude and the immutable must be characteristics of the eternal and infinite, that is how much we can add from philosophy. Descartes finds that we have a need of God, to reach to the soul, but also to the universe, to science and mathematics; without the soul we do not reach God; he finds that necessary for existence. Kant concludes that the soul is immortal and our part that can have a relationship with God.
In Christianity we find that the soul has a beginning and that it is created by God, (Ecclesiastes 12:7). In the Bible, also it is object of the salvation of Christ, together with the spirit and the body which will be transformed in the resurrection (or in the rapture of the saints when Christ comes); the resurrected body is of another dimension, called the spiritual body (Paul – 1 Corinthians 15:44), but the soul of the sinner who does not repent will be in hell with the spiritual body: “ And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). From there the urgency to preach the Gospel so they may be saved those who are called. Read a Bible Study at: https://www.yahshua.net/SpiritSoulBody.htm
10.- What is love?
The Greek philosophers managed to identify two characteristics of love: the one who loves an unreachable ideal in who is being loved, and on the other hand the love that seeks to love another person in his/her attributes, for who he/she is; that could be the conclusion of Plato. On the other hand it is identified with the basic instinct (eros), and also for the one who seeks to know others, or for things like knowledge itself, or that thing or person we like much in life. The different types of love include the one between a man and a woman, and the platonic love, the one of a father and mother for their children, between brothers, for the family, between good friends, for the brethren in the faith, for the neighbour, and through charity. But, is there not a greater love than these, and a source of love that makes these as deep as they deserve?
Christianity receives from God a concept much deeper about love, because God loved us when we were His enemies, while we are sinners, to such extreme that the love of God gave His begotten Son in our place to save us from eternal hell (John 3:16): “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But, do we love God with the same love? Jesus taught the apostles that there was no greater love that the one of who lays down his life for his friends, and requested that we, His disciples would love one another, bearing one another’s burdens, what Paul described as the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Today we have seen 10 philosophical and existential questions to Christianity. Human thought had its great cradle in the Greek culture, from where it impregnated Roman culture and with it the world. Christianity would carry these questions to all humanity from the preaching of the Gospel. Today, from the era of internet, as it was the Areopagus of Athens for Paul, human thought is shared and studied by all generations. Man continues to seek God, and God man, and even though today it seems that we are much more sophisticated for the scientific knowledge and the vast access to information, the questions continue to be the same.
Critical thinking is needed to study these questions. On the other hand are the questions for which, under the eyes of rationalism, there are no answers, but they do have them under the eyes of Christianity with base in the Word of God, faith and prophecies fulfilled, which are evidence impossible to refute, and this for those who need evidence because they have no faith. The Christian can and must use reason and critical thinking in philosophy even if his answers are based in the truth of Christ, which is in the Bible, because this way he will understand the mind of he who is only rational and provide better answers, among which I think the following Text of Paul to the Corinthians is perfect to deal with philosophy or love of knowledge: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
We close with the teaching of He who Paul calls the “wisdom of God” the Lord Jesus Christ – Yahshua, Yeshua, who even further than wisdom, gave the apostles a New Commandment, a Text that is above the 10 philosophical questions exposed because it focuses in the agape love: “…Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35). The Bible answers all our questions because is God himself who has revealed it for us. Amen!