Philosophy for Believers: Discussing Issues

Even though you do not realise it, you have already been engaged, I will not say ‘immersed’, in philosophical issues when you start to talk about Christian faith. For you achieve certain attitudes before you fill your speech with content. You say you believe, whatever it is you say that you believe.
You then fill the statement that begins with the claim, ‘I believe’ with all kinds of content, all kinds of assertion: about the future, about the past, about authority, about yourself, about the world, about the beginning of all things, about the end of all things about life after death, etc, etc. You believe many things, even if you do not consciously preface your convictions with the terms ‘I believe’.
So here would be a place to start by asking, ‘What is belief? What does it mean to believe?’
When we have spent time in thinking about those questions we might then go to some specific and important beliefs and ask the similar question, for example, ‘What does it mean to say that you believe that God is creator?’ You will now believe, of course, that a philosophical discussion will help you to come to a better understanding of your particular beliefs.
You ask. ‘How?’ You will find the best answer to that as you immerse yourself in the activity this book invites you to engage in. There is no substitute for persistent participation. But we can give preliminary answers. Take just three:
Achieve clarity.
Misunderstanding is often due to not being clear as to what a belief means. So we must raise and persist in answering the question, What does the belief mean?
Understand what makes for reasonable support.
This involves being able to see that the reasons you put forward to expound and to support your belief are rational, that the arguments you use are sound.
Achieve an adequate vocabulary.
Often a confused or inadequate answer to the question results from having a limited mastery of the appropriate language. Fuller understanding results from expanding our mastery of concepts.
by Dr. Edward W.H. Vick, retired professor and author of Death, Immortality and ResurrectionFrom Inspiration to Understanding: Reading the Bible Seriously and FaithfullyPhilosophy for BelieversCreation: The Christian DoctrineHistory and Christian Faith and more!
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