Category Archives: Philosophy

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 Plato started a lot of conversations that he couldn’t finish.  He was trying to find the universal and the absolute by looking in the wrong place.  He sought well, but the final answer was beyond his grasp.  But he sets the questions up better than anyone.  What if there was someone who could come into Plato’s Cave from the outside world of the sun?   What then?

Plato

REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE

The fleeting shadows flow across the wall;

That’s all we know.  We think they may arise

Outside our minds, and bring before our eyes

Some glimpse of Truth–but by the time they fall

To us, a faint and hieroglyphic scrawl

Is all that’s left.  We try to analyze,

Deduce from patterns what the shapes disguise–

They’re hard to catch and harder to recall.

 

We think reflections of Reality

Are cast by Sunlight shining–how we crave

To turn and look–but still we strive in vain.

No merely mortal man will ever see

Whether the Door behind us in the Cave

Is there, so firmly Fate has bound our chain.

 

So many years we strove against the chain

That gradually some gave up, and hope was dead.

“There is no Door; there is no Cave,” they said,

“No explanation, nothing to explain.

It’s just a game you play inside your brain:

All the poetry you’ve ever read

Makes chemical reactions in your head;

That’s all that Pleasure is, and also Pain.”

 

What of the Beautiful, the True, the Good?

“They’re all illusions; they are all the same,

Sounds upon the wind, an empty name,

And that is all that can be understood.”

But then the rule that says that nothing’s true

Must be applied to their denial too!

 

So hope could not completely be denied.

Yet still the shadows flicker on the wall,

And we’re not certain what they mean at all

In spite of every theory we have tried.

If only one of us could get outside

Into the Light that fills that vaster hall

And not go blind, but come back and recall

For us the land where the True Shapes abide!

 

If only–but the ancient Grecian knew

No way that it could be.  It seemed absurd

To hope or to despair.  So still the True

Was but in shadows seen, in echoes heard–

Until the birth of a barbaric Jew

Who was in the Beginning; was the Word.

The Word

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 One of my life goals is to write a history of philosophy entirely in limericks.  Why?  Because I can.

Rene DesCartes

INDUBITABLY

Limericks # 15-18

There once was a man named DesCartes

Who asked, “Where should Philosophy start?”

He said, “If I can doubt it,

I’ll just do without it.

Now, that ought to make me look smart!”

 

So he doubted the clear and the plain

To see what would finally remain.

‘Twas thus he found out

There was no way to doubt

The doubt in the doubter’s own brain.

 

“I exist!” then with joy he concluded.

“On this point I cannot be deluded:

Even though it sounds dumb,

If I think–ergo sum!”

To this day he has not been refuted.

 

If you ask what this tale is about,

It’s that doubting must always run out.

For you never can doubt

That you’re doubting the doubt

That you doubt when you’re doubting your doubt.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

The Adventure of Reading

A poster one sees in Kenya proclaims, “Literacy for Improved Food Production!”  I don’t doubt that improved food production is a worthy goal and literacy can help attain it, I told the students of St. Philip’s Secondary School in Kitale. But there is so much more to reading than that!  Reading makes available three things that are hard to access without it: the Word of God, the world of ideas, and the world of imagination.

The Word of God

The Word of God

The Word of God contains the personal revelation of the Creator of the Universe, including His wisdom, His commandments, His love, and His plan for the salvation and eternal fulfillment of His creatures.  The world of ideas gives us the cumulative experience and thinking of the human race as it follows or rebels against the Word of God in its history, its science, its philosophy.  The world of imagination shows us the stirrings of the human spirit, stimulating our own spirits to make creative applications of what we learn from Scripture, history, and science.

The World of Ideas

The World of Ideas

Any of the three worlds to which reading gives us access—Scripture, Ideas, Imagination—can expand the mind in such a way as to facilitate things yet undreamt of (including better food production).  When we combine them together, their capacity to do so is increased exponentially.  So pursue the adventure of reading with all your might, both in school and out of it!  It was Newman’s Idea of a University recycled impromptu for an African context: not a bad exhortation for Americans, either.

William Shakespeare: A Citizen of the World of the Imagination

William Shakespeare: A Citizen of the World of the Imagination

Remember: for more commentary like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds, Inklings of Reality, and/or Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical poems and essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 30, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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APOLOGISTS TO MEET AT TOCCOA FALLS

APOLOGISTS TO SPEAK TRUTH IN LOVE!

The International Society of Christian Apologetics will hold its annual meeting at Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa, Georgia, Friday-Saturday, April 1-2, 2016.  The theme for the meeting will be “Apologetics in an Increasingly Hostile World.”

ISCA Logo

Plenary speakers will include Warren Cole Smith, senior editor of World Magazine, speaker for Summit Ministries, and vice president of The Colson Center. Smith will address the conference on “How Media Shape Your Worldview:  The Medium Really Is The Message–Mostly,” and “Restoring All Things:  Knowing What You Stand For, Not Just What You Stand Against, or Promoting The Good, The True, And The Beautiful.”  Smith says that “We Christians must pay close attention not only to what we say, but how we say it if we want to be heard in a culture that is increasingly indifferent or antagonistic to the Christian message.”

Warren Cole Smith

Warren Cole Smith

The meeting will also feature workshops on many apologetic topics by notables such as Norm Geisler and a presidential address on “C. S. Lewis as a Role Model for Winsome Apologists” by Toccoa Falls College apologist Donald T. Williams.

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For further information or to register, go to http://isca-apologetics.org/annualmeeting.

OPTIMISTIC PESSIMISM

I am a Southerner. Lost Causes don’t bother me. We are used to them.

Portrait-RELee7

In the short run, I am not very optimistic for our society or for the church. We as a society are trying to maintain our democracy while dismantling its foundation–the self evident truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. This project is doomed to failure. Nevertheless, having repudiated the only foundation on which a successful democracy has ever been erected, we presume to teach the rest of the world how to “do” democracy. This is sheer idiocy.

People Who Understood the Foundations

People Who Understood the Foundations

Meanwhile, the conservative church’s only response is senselessly to berate the society for departing from a foundation it no longer remembers ever having had, rather than doing the only sensible thing to address the situation: re-evangelizing it from scratch and teaching it the biblical world view again. At the same time, I see our theological birthright, the hard gains of an Evangelical movement that clawed its way up out of Fundamentalist anti-intellectualism, being squandered for a mess of Post-Modern epistemological pottage, soft nihilism masquerading as humility about truth.  Look, if there is no resurrection then Christ is not raised; and if there are no valid metanarratives, then Christianity is not true. The Evangelical movement is exactly where the mainline Protestant denominations were a century ago, losing its message to the Spirit of the Age so slowly and subtly that it doesn’t realize what is happening. Only now, the friends of Truth, remembering how ugly things turned during the old Fundamentalist days, no longer have any stomach for the fight. Oh, yes, the future is bleak indeed.

"And thought the last lights off the black West went, / Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward springs!" -- Gerard manley Hopkins

“And thought the last lights off the black West went, / Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward springs!” — Gerard manley Hopkins

Fortunately, both History and Theology save me from despair. History tells me that things have looked this bad before, or worse–right after the fall of Rome, at the height of Medieval papal corruption before the Reformation, and at the height of the Endarkenment of the Eighteenth Century before the First Great Awakening came seemingly out of nowhere. And Theology tells me that God is sovereign and doesn’t need favorable cultural situations to accomplish his purpose or preserve His remnant or even initiate a new Reformation leading to a new Awakening. So, thank God, I don’t need optimism. In fact, the need to find optimism based on a Pollyanish view of circumstances through rose colored glasses–which a lot of Christians seem to think it their duty to concoct–is the most pessimistic and depressing thing I know of.

Puddleglum Did Not Need Optimism Either

Puddleglum Did Not Need Optimism Either

We have no hope in this world. Good! That means we’ve got the Enemy just where we want him. Lift up your heads, for our redemption draweth nigh!

 

For more writing by Dr. Williams, go to the Lantern Hollow Store and order his books, Stars through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2011), Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd ed. (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012), and Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012).  Order ($15.00 each) at https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.