As part of my small group, Relevant Christianity, we are going to do a series on doubt. I'm listening to lectures in preparation for this series. I listened to one that really was good and wanted to share it. It is a LAbri lecture and they have asked that we not link directly to their lectures. It is available from their library and is free, however, a donation is suggested. I will link to their library and then you can search for the title: When Doubts Arise by Jim Paul. You can serach for it by going to the LAbri libarary (http://www.labri-ideas-library.org/search-the-library.asp)
I will give my personal perspective (not from the lecture) of how we got to this place. It is western culture in a nutshell.
The Greeks looked into the night sky 3000 years ago and had wonder. They looked at events of nature and needed a script to explain. They created the myths and stories around their gods. Their gods were small, somewhat like our Marvel super heroes.
Pythagoras was born in 570 BC. He was smart but had a gift. He may have been a savant. He saw mathematical patterns everywhere. The patterns were larger than the Greek gods . . . suggesting that something was bigger than what we see here. This created a problem.
Aristotle born in 384 BC focused on reason and believed that truth came through collecting information through our senses (empiricism) and then using logic to find pure truth. He believed that perfect truth could be found this way every time.
Plato, originally a student of Aristotle, born in 428 or 427 BC didn’t like Aristotle’s approach to truth. He travelled and studied in a school set up by the disciples of Pythagoras in Sicily. There Plato expanded Pythagoras’ ideas that there was another, more real, realm than we have here, one in the ether. In the ether all things are real verses here, where everything is a mirage or shadow.
Many of the early church followers, leaders and fathers adopted Plato’s ideas because they seemed so similar to the Christian ideas (but was not). Western civilization lived through the Dark Ages as the result of adopting Platonic-Christian metaphysical perspective.
People became starved for knowledge and reason. South of the Alps, via the Medici family, a new Platonic philosophy was introduced, where human experience or emotion was the other “ether” not the Christian heavenlies. This was the Renaissance and humanism.
North of the Alps, via the influence of the Moors in Spain, Aristotelian logic was reintroduced and taken to the extreme form with the announcement by Descartes (1596) that "Cogito ergo sum." Meaning, that if my senses can’t perceive it, then it is not real so the only thing I can know for sure is that I exist.
This type of distorted Aristotelian rason led to an extreme empiricism (if you can’t perceive it via your senses it is not real) that had great hopes of optimism (logical positivism). That optimism was dashed in the blood bath of the American Civil War, trenches of WWI where reason created weapons of horrible suffering. In WWII reason also created the bomb and more catastrophic destruction. Nazism was the last great social experiment in a pure scientific, logical society (the weak extinguished for the sake of the race). The passions and morality of humanity could not be factored because they are unseen and thus not real.
The despondency after these events didn’t lead to a more healthy rationalism, but rationalism being abandoned totally.
Now we live in an age of emotion. Truth comes to us by feeling. Christians have adopted the secular society’s views, as they always do. Now to know God, you must only know Him through your emotions (re-labeled as “spiritual” to make Christians feel more comfortable and hide the fact that they are speaking in truly secular terms).
This is the age of doubt because no one trust reason anymore. Emotions are wet tissue paper for the support of truth. All truth is now supported by wet tissue paper and doubt abounds, although emotionally suppressed.