Philosophy of Education

By Annick M. Brennen, MA


annickbrennen at gmail dot com




Each line in the table of contents is a hyperlink



What is Education?

Ellen G. White’s Purpose and Meaning of Christian Education

The Purpose of Education

The Meaning of Education

What is Educational Philosophy?

Educational Philosophies of Distinguished Philosophers

Leo XIII’s Position on Proper Religious and Moral Instruction

The Value of Futurism to Education

The Application of Reconstructionism to Education

Educational Value of Humanism

Educational Value of Progressivism

Educational Value of Perennialism

The Educational Value of Behaviorism

Educational Value of Essentialism

Educational Value of Existentialism

A Critique of Plato’s Philosophy of Education as Given in The Republic

The Eden School

The Schools of the Prophets

Jesus the Master Teacher: His Method

His Mission

His Preparation for Ministry

His Qualifications

His Teaching Scope

His Philosophical Base

His Content

His Methods

The Aims of Seventh-Day Adventist Education

Are Seventh-Day Adventists Unique in Their Idea That the Church Should Be
Concerned with Both the Temporal and Spiritual Aspects of Man’s Life?

Content-Centered Approach Versus Child-Centered Approach to Education

The Child-Centered Educational Approach

The Content-Centered Educational Approach

Curriculum and Teaching Method of the (A) Idealist, (B) Realist,
and (C) Pragmatist

The Curriculum of the Idealist

The Teaching Method of the Idealist

The Curriculum of the Realist

The Method of the Realist

The Curriculum of the Pragmatist

The Method of the Pragmatist

PHILOSOPHY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33

What is Philosophy?

The Aims and Tasks of Philosophy

Metaphysical Questions

Are Most Philosophers Atheists?

Relationship Between Science and Philosophy

Definition of Terms

Idealism: Ultimate Reality Is Non-Material and Mental

The Correspondence Theory of Truth Versus The Coherence Theory of Truth

The Criterion for Knowledge

The Sources of Knowledge

World Views

Essence of World Views



The Philosophical Positions of (A) Idealism, (B) Realism, (C) Pragmatism

What Is Pragmatism?

The Seeking of Knowledge as a Transaction

The Core of Idealism

Dichotomous Reality of the Idealist

New Realism Versus Critical Realism

What Is Sense Realism?

Bishop Berkeley’s Idea of Reality - My Position

What Is Scholasticism

Am I an Idealist, a Realist, or a Pragmatist?

Every Rational Person is a Philosopher



Logical Arguments for the Existence of God

The Cosmological Argument

The Teleological Argument

Who Is God?

Why Do I Believe in a God I Cannot See - My Response to an Atheist



The Nature of Human Beings

The Personal Dimension

The Spiritual Dimension

The Mental Dimension

The Social Dimension

The Moral Dimension

The Physical Dimension

Scientific Principles that Lend Support to the Theory of Creation

Comparison of the Approach of Adventist Scientists and Worldly Scientists

Points of Agreement

Points of Disagreement

What Do the Fossil Records Indicate?

A Comparison Between What Evolution Predicted and What Creation Predicted in Fossil Record

The Significance of Eintein’s Theory






What is Education?

            Education is the most important and most noble of human endeavors. All other activities have their foundation in education. Education is so important that it will continue even in eternity. It enables humans to achieve their fullest personal, spiritual, mental, social, and physical potentials. The ability of being educated is what distinguishes humans from animals. Education transforms an individual and allows her to effect change in her environment.

            To discover the varied facets of education, we shall review a few definitions of education.

            Education is a continuing voyage of discovery, an everlasting quest to achieve the fullest wisdom and stature that God meant for us.

            Education according to George Knight (1980) is a life long learning process that can take place in an infinite variety of circumstances and contexts.

            According to Kleining (1985), education is “The range of activities both formal and informal whereby people are initiated into or realigned with the evolving traditions, structures, and social relations which are taken to constitute their education.”

            Education should equip an individual to become a rational, willing agent, who is able to participate in and change one’s world with a realistic understanding of its possibilities.

            Peter (1975) wrote: “Education consists in initiating others into activities, modes of conduct and thoughts which have standards written into them by references to which it is possible to act, think and feel with varying degrees of relevance and taste.”


Ellen G. White’s Purpose and Meaning of Christian Education

            “The word education comes from the Latin educare, to draw out. In a broad sense it means not only to elicit creative thought and knowledge from the student, but to draw humankind out of the predicament it is in. And that predicament, according to both Jewish and Christian viewpoints, radically differs from the original perfection God established at creation” (Youngberg, 1994, p. 69).

            Based on this definition, E. G. White had a very comprehensive and correct conception of education. She saw education and redemption as being one and the same. Her conception of education was practical and had earthly value, yet it had eternal implications.

The Purpose of Education

            The quotation that best summarizes her purpose of education states that:

To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized–this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life (White, 1903, pp. 15-16).


The Meaning of Education

            Mrs. White contends that:

True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come (White, 1903, p. 13).

            She further states that: “In the highest sense the work of education and the work of redemption are one, for in education, as in redemption, “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (White, 1903, p. 30).

            She explains that:

He who cooperates with the divine purpose in imparting to the youth a knowledge of God, and molding the character into harmony with His, does a high and noble work. As he awakens a desire to reach God’s ideal, he presents an education that is as high as heaven and as broad as the universe; an education that cannot be completed in this life, but that will be continued in the life to come; an education that secures to the successful student his passport from the preparatory school of earth to the higher grade, the school above (White, 1903, p. 19).


            Her most meaningful statement relates to the nature of the learner. She emphatically affirms that:

Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator–individuality, power to think and to do. . . . It is the work of true education to develop this power, to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought. Instead of confining their study to that which men have said or written, let students be directed to the sources of truth, to the vast fields opened for research in nature and revelation. Let them contemplate the great facts of duty and destiny, and the mind will expand and strengthen. Instead of educated weaklings, institutions of learning may send forth men strong to think and to act, men who are masters and not slaves of circumstances, men who possess breath of mind, clearness of thought, and the courage of their convictions (White, 1903, pp. 17-18).


What is Educational Philosophy?

            Educational philosophy is philosophy applied to education as a specific area of human endeavor. It involves bringing those critical reflections which characterize philosophy in general to influence and direct the range of experiences and possessions that may be referred to as education. Philosophy of education does not exist in a vacuum, but within a particular social and historical context.

            Educational philosophy, according to Soltis (1988) has three dimensions: (1) the personal, (2) the public, and (3) the professional. The personal dimension has to do with having a set of personal beliefs about what is good, right, and worthwhile in education. The public dimension is aimed at guiding and directing the practice of many. The professional dimension provides specific guidelines for the practice of teaching.


Educational Philosophies of Distinguished Philosophers

            The educational philosophy of Plato rests on the four moral principles of wisdom, virtue, service, and leadership.

            Hebart declared that character, the moral end of life, should be the central aim of education.

            Aristotle indicated that it was not clear to him whether education should be concerned more with intellectual or with moral virtues. He concluded that education should be based on three principles: (1) the golden mean, (2) the possible, and (3) the becoming.

            John Locke in his book, Thoughts on Education, concluded that a sound mind in a sound body is a short but full description of a happy state in this world.

            Ellen G. White stresses the mental, physical, moral, and spiritual development of the student. She espouses a philosophy based on the Word of God, a philosophy that recognizes God as the Creator of all mankind.


Leo XIII’s Position on Proper Religious and Moral Instruction

            Park cited in Thomas (1998) stated that “Leo XIII has wisely pointed out, that without proper religious and moral instruction every form of intellectual culture will be injurious; for young people not accustomed to respecting God will be unable to bear the restraint of virtuous life, and never having learned to deny themselves anything, they will easily be incited to disturb the public order.” In essence, Leo XIII is saying that religious and moral instruction is indispensable to the formation of the whole person.


The Value of Futurism to Education

            Futurism focuses on social and political reforms. Futurists are calling for educators to generate successive alternate images of the future by: (1) creating an awareness of the injustices, contradictions, and problems in our current world order and thinking of positive ways to deal with them; (2) using curricular subjects such as economics, psychology, sociology and political science to create awareness.


The Application of Reconstructionism to Education

            Reconstructionism application to education is twofold: (1) the identification of major problem areas of controversy, conflict and inconsistency in subject areas such as economics, sociology, political science, psychology, and anthropology; (2) the use of methodologies, such as role plays, simulations and jurisprudential models to create awareness of problems and openness to solutions.


Educational Value of Humanism

            Humanism has made three contributions to education, namely: (1) open classrooms, (2) free schools, (3) schools without failure.


Educational Value of Progressivism

            Progressivism has given to education six basic principles on which it operates:

            1. The process of education finds its genesis and purpose in the child.

            2. Pupils are active rather than passive.

            3. The teacher’s role is that of an advisor, a guide, a fellow traveler, rather than an authoritarian and classroom director.

            4. The school is a microcosm of the larger society. Learning should be integrated.

            5. Classroom activity should focus on solving problems, rather than on artificial methods of teaching subject.

            6. The social atmosphere of the school must be cooperative and democratic.


Educational Value of Perennialism

            Perrenialists have given to education six basic principles on which they operate:

            1. Man is a rational animal so as individuals develop their minds, they can use reason to control appetites, passions, and actions.

            2. Knowledge is universally consistent, therefore there are certain basic subject matters that should be taught to all people.

            3. The subject matter, not the child, should stand at the center of the educational endeavor.

            4. The great works of the past are a repository of knowledge and wisdom which has stood the test of time and are relevant in our day.

            5. Human nature is consistent, so education should be the same for everyone.

            6. The educational experience is a preparation for life, rather than a real-life situation.


The Educational Value of Behaviorism

            Behaviorists contributed four basic principles to education:

            1. Humans are highly-developed animals who learn in the same way that other animals learn. Scientists can refine the techniques of teaching through experimentation with animals.

            2. Education is a process of behavioral engineering. People are programmed to act in certain ways by their environment. Behavior may be modified by manipulating environmental reinforcers.

            3. The teacher’s role is to create an effective learning environment that will provide positive reinforcement.

            4. Efficiency, economy, precision and objectivity are central value considerations. Teachers are accountable and responsible for what children learn.



Educational Value of Essentialism

            Essentialists have given three major principles to education:

            1. The school’s task is to teach basic knowledge. Basic subject matters should be mastered at the elementary and secondary school levels to eliminate illiteracy at the college level.

            2. Learning is hard work and requires discipline. Memorization, drill, and problem solving methods foster learning.

            3. The teacher is the focus of the classroom activity. She decides what students ought to learn and is responsible for presenting the subject matter in a logical sequence and has the right to discipline students to create a conducive learning environment.


Educational Value of Existentialism

            Existentialism focuses on helping the child into a fuller realization of self based on the following propositions:

            1. I am a choosing agent–unable to avoid choosing my way through life.

            2. I am a free agent–free to set the goals of my own life.

            3. I am a responsible agent–personally accountable for my free choices as they are revealed in how I live my life.


A Critique of Plato’s Philosophy of Education as Given in The Republic

            The allegory of the Cave represents Plato’s theory of knowledge. In this allegory he describes how the human mind achieves knowledge and indicates what knowledge consists of. According to this allegory, there are two worlds: The world of shadows inside the cave and the world of light outside the cave. Those who live in the cave have a distorted view of reality because their apprehension of knowledge is through their senses. Those who live outside the cave have full knowledge because they rely on the intellect to apprehend it.

            This allegory suggests that most of mankind dwells in the darkness of the cave. They have oriented their thoughts around the blurred world of shadows. It is the function of education to lead men out of the cave into the world of light. Education, then is a matter of conversion. But this conversion does not come by easily. It takes “a ruler” to bring it about.

            The ruler, according to Plato’s theory, represents the rational element of society. Only the ruler has the competence and the qualification for authority. Plato’s allegory proposes a system of classes in a state. At the lower levels you have the artisans, workers, etc., and at the top you have the elite. The artisans and workers are ignorant and do not possess rationality. The elite, by contrast, is gifted with knowledge and rationality. The artisan would be educated, but his education would stop at the level of his abilities.

            Plato’s allegory suggests an elitist concept of education. It goes against the Biblical truth that all human beings were created in the image of God and are endowed with a power akin to that of the creator, individuality and the power to think and to do.

            Moreover, history testifies of the disastrous consequences of such an elitist system and of the inequalities it generated. The elimination of the masses from preparatory schools in Medieval Europe kept the people ignorant and at the mercy of their rulers.

            Other consequences of this system were mass poverty, gender and racial discrimination since women and Negroes were not considered worthy of education. The physical and mentally disabled were eliminated automatically from the educational process as well.

            Such restricted concept of education gave rise to such regimes as totalitarianism, dictatorship, and any other sort of government that restricts personal liberty and freedom of conscience and religion.

            Plato’s philosophy of education is a denial of the right of every individual to be educated to the fullest of her or his potential. It is a denial of civil and religious liberties.


The Eden School

            In the book Education, Ellen G. White states that the Garden of Eden was the home of our first parents. Not only it was their first home, but it was their first school. She says: “The Garden of Eden was the schoolroom, nature was the lesson book, the Creator Himself was the instructor, and the parents of the human family were the students” (p. 20).

            Adam and Eve, the first students were created to be “the image and Glory of God.” Their physical appearance, their intellectual faculties, their spiritual gifts bore the resemblance of their Maker.

            The knowledge of nature and of its laws, the knowledge of God and His love, great spiritual truths, and character building formed the first curriculum. Mrs. White states that “The laws and operations of nature, and the great principles of truth that govern the spiritual universe, were opened to their minds by the infinite Author of all” (p. 22). In addition to intellectual pursuits, God in his infinite wisdom and love included manual labor in the curriculum to develop their physical and mental powers. Mrs. White comments, “Useful occupation was appointed them as a blessing, to strengthen the body, to expand the mind, and to develop the character” (p. 21).


The Schools of the Prophets

            The term prophet comes from the Hebrew words nabi, chozeh, and ro’eh. The latter mean seer. Together these terms describe two phases of the work of the prophet. As seer, he/she discerned God’s will, and as prophet, conveyed that will to others.

            Prophets and the Schools of the Prophets were established because many Israelite households had disregarded God’s plan of education. They became corrupted through their association with heathen nations. The schools were (1) to serve as a barrier against the wide-spreading corruption, (2) to provide for the mental and spiritual welfare of the youth, and (3) to promote the prosperity of the nation by furnishing men qualified to act in the fear of God as leaders and counselors.

            Samuel, who traveled from place to place as a teacher (see 1 Sam. 10:10-13; cf. 7:16, 17), founded the first school mentioned in the Bible, the School of the Prophets (1Sam. 19:20). Though the Scriptures provide little detail about these schools, it is clear that Samuel recruited and trained pious young men who would go out to teach and counteract the threatening tide of idolatry (2 Kings 2:3-5). Not all the “sons of the prophets,” as these disciples were known, had the prophetic gift, but hey all instructed the people. The prosperity of the nation during the reigns of David and Solomon was largely due to the work of these schools in preparing leaders, teaching Yahweh worship and serving as a barrier against polytheistic corruption and superstition (Youngberg, 1994, pp. 25-26).

            Ellen G. White, under inspiration, provides information about the method of education adopted by the School of the Prophets. The word and the works of God were the source of their curriculum. The instructors were teachers who enjoyed communion with God and were students of the truth. The students and teachers supported themselves through manual labor. The teaching was oral, and the subjects taught were the Law of God with the instruction given to Moses, sacred history, sacred music, and poetry. Prayer constituted a major part of their daily activities. The goal of education was faith in God.

            These practices stand in sharp contrast with today’s Christian schools. In most Christian schools, the curriculum includes not only religious knowledge, but the works and ideas of secular authors. The creation account has been replaced by the theory of evolution. Useful manual labor is no longer considered a necessary factor in developing mental and physical powers. Its substitute, physical education, concentrates on increasing physical power and enhancing self-glorification.

            Today’s Christian schools aim at developing the intellect and preparing young men and women for the world of work, not necessarily for service to God and humankind. The transmission of faith and prayer and the fear of the Lord are not central to the purpose of these schools. In many Christian schools, teachers are hired who do not profess Christianity. Thus, students are exposed to many ideas that conflict with Christian principles and values. Individual achievement is glorified at the expense of achievement that will benefit the group or community. These schools do not provide a barrier against wide-spreading corruption found in today’s society, instead they provide fertile ground for its propagation. A reformation is needed to bring back these schools into conformity to the will of God.


Jesus the Master Teacher: His Method

            When Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, he said, “We know that you are a teacher come from God” (John 3:2). He was not the only one to address Jesus as teacher. Norman Anderson cited in Youngberg (1994) states that ‘Teacher’ was the predominant title by which Jesus was addressed during His earthly life. The Greek words translated as “teacher,” Anderson says, are the equivalent to the Hebrew “Rabbi,” the common title of respect for a distinguished teacher.

            Christ’s methods can best be explained and appreciated after examining His mission, preparation for ministry, qualifications, teaching scope, content, and philosophical base. Thus, a few paragraphs are dedicated to providing a backdrop to His teaching ministry.

His Mission

            Kent cited in Youngberg (1994) postulates that Jesus defined His mission as liberating captives, healing the afflicted, restoring sight to the blind, and enlightening the world with truth (Luke 4:18,19). He came to wrest the kingdom from Satan (Luke 4:5-8); to show human beings how to habituate the principles of heaven into daily living (Matt. 4:4). To accomplish His mission, Jesus had to instruct (Isa. 42:5-7), to disengage truth from the dross of mere human philosophy. He came to reveal to humanity the true knowledge of God (Isa. 40:5; John 14:9). Here, Youngberg exclaims, we find the nucleus of true educational work.


His Preparation for Ministry

            Jesus’ preparation for his ministry included useful work, the study of Scripture and nature, and the experiences of life. He received his early education from the lips of His mother, and in the carpentry shop of his father. Thus his early education was complete, covering the cognitive, affective, psychomotor, and “spiritual” domains.


His Qualifications

            Those who heard Jesus speak recognized his authority. His words and character commanded respect, while His miracles gave evidence of divine unction and approval.


His Teaching Scope

            Christ’s teaching embraced the world. His audience consisted of people from all ages and walks of life. His conversation with the woman at the well showed that He was no respecter of persons, and that His mission was to seek and save that which was lost regardless of nationality, creed, or race.


His Philosophical Base

            According to Youngberg (1994), when Jesus declared, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” He presented the three great questions of life in reverse order from what is customary. Youngberg goes on to explain the philosophical base of Jesus found in this statement. First, He is the way (axiology)–all that is good and beautiful is found in Christ (Col. 2:9). He is the truth (epistemology)–“Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 NIV). He is Life–He came that humankind might have an existence that measures with the life of God (John 3:16). It is the truth that leads to life (ontology). “Now this is eternal life: That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3 NIV). The genius in this order, Youngberg says, is that it conveys the surprising insight that the doing comes first. In doing the will of God is the discovery of truth and life.

            From this philosophical base Jesus, continues Youngberg, taught the truth of existence and moral fidelity. So wide was His view of truth, so comprehensive His

teaching that every fact of nature was used to illuminate it.



His Content

            Jesus’ content was God-centered. His aim was to empower his learners in the development of character. His Scriptural resources included the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.


His Methods

            Christ’s methods differed markedly to those used by the rabbis of his days. His methods were based on His own brand of psychology of learning. He believed that through sympathy, faith, and love, students could be deeply affected and changed. He also appealed to their will. The following methods are extracted from Youngberg’s discourse on education.

            1. Christ taught with simplicity and earnestness, as one having authority. His instruction was direct. His illustrations were appropriate. He left no doubt that He understood His subject thoroughly.

            2. Jesus’ goals differed from that of the other teachers also. He did not seek to gratify curiosity or satisfy selfish ambition. And He gave no credence to distinctions of caste, creed, rank, or nationality. Friends and enemies, neighbors or strangers, He entertained all alike. He presented lessons appropriate to their circumstances. His goal was to promulgate truth to as many as would receive it.

            3. Jesus was an alert and sensitive tutor. He observed the learners’ readiness, took them through the instructional process and facilitated their response.

            4. Jesus’ teaching style was personal. He addressed the concrete experiences of the people. He taught so that his listeners, whether rich or poor, would feel His identification with their interests.

            5. Jesus used parables and stories to arouse interest. He presented truth in an attractive yet enigmatic manner that compelled the learner to strain, and grapple to find meaning–an achievement any teacher could covet.

            6. Jesus used miracles to heal and relieve suffering to illustrate to His listeners that He came to save and not destroy, to bring spiritual restoration and physical renewal. This was by far his favorite method of instruction.

            7. Jesus used His words and expressions to convey truth in a very powerful way. He used synthetic, synonomous, and antithetical parallelism; alliterations, epigrams, paradox, and hyperboles to drive his message across to the learners. The Beatitudes are an example of synthetic parallelism in which the second part of each verse completes the meaning of the first. Matthew 6:29 is an example of hyperbole: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out . . . ”

            8. Jesus practiced modeling. He taught what He was and what He lived. “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21). In the process of communicating the Gospel to humankind, an essential element was the Teacher Himself. Through personal contact and identification with His “class” He offered Himself as the Way.

            9. He used questions and answers to provoke reflection, and He also prompted His audience to ask questions.

            10. He personalized his instruction to the nature of the learner. For example, He dealt differently with John, Judas, James, and Peter.

            In the final analysis, concludes Youngberg, the greatness of Jesus’ teaching can only be compared to the greatness of His own mission and the magnitude of the commission given to His disciples. Marquis cited in Youngberg (1994) points out that Jesus’ remarkable achievement is that every one of His disciples, with the exception of Judas, became a great teacher himself, and spoke to his generation with a moral authority rarely known among men. Judging by results, it is not too much to say that Jesus turned out of His school the greatest generation of teachers the world has ever known.


The Aims of Seventh-Day Adventist Education

            The ultimate aim of Seventh-Day Adventist education is to encourage students to be children of God whereby they are prepared to function successfully and joyously in this present world with the anticipation of greater service in the world to come. The more specific goals are intellectual, vocational, aesthetic, physical, social, religious, and moral.

            The specific aims of Seventh-Day Adventist education include: (1) the building of character, (2) the Bible as a foundation for every course, (3) regular courses in Bible in all schools, (4) building schools in rural environments, (5) encouraging students to do missionary work, (6) combining agricultural and industrial work with scholarship, (7) emphasizing labor and missionary work rather than sports and entertainment, (8) thorough scholastic training, (9) democratic school administration, (10) the production of men and women who are willing to do what is right.


Are Seventh-Day Adventists Unique in Their Idea That the Church Should Be

             Concerned with Both the Temporal and Spiritual Aspects of Man’s Life?

            Seventh-Day Adventists are not unique in their idea that the Church should be concerned with both the temporal and spiritual aspects of man’s life. This concept originated with the Judeo-Christian culture.

            Aspects of Jewish education that Christianity borrowed incrementally include, but are not limited to: (1) the family as the first school and center of education, (2) labor, study, and meditation as part of the educational process; (3) teaching methods such as songs, poetry, rites, symbols, nature, art, story telling, celebrations, the use of mnemonic devices, memorization, modeling; (4) the content of education: the transmission of faith and cultural heritage, character building, the Word of God, the development of the mental, moral, spiritual, social, and physical powers; (5) the outcome of education: fitting the child to be a servant of God and of humanity; (6) cooperation of the home, congregation, and the school. All of these demonstrate a deep concern for the whole person.

            Christian schools added other concepts based on the example of Jesus Christ the Master Teacher who taught the essential principles of life relevant to the kingdom of God. They added also the lessons taught from the cross: forgiveness, assurance, provision, substitution, mastery of the spiritual, mental, and volitional powers over the physical powers, victory, and submission. These deal with the spiritual aspect of humans’ life.

            The first church schools were established by the early church fathers. These schools confined education to priests, nobles, and a very few laymen of the higher classes. The church schools of the early church fathers were reshaped during the Renaissance into European universities. For example, “during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Germany experienced a great growth of university activity, in both the increase in student enrollment and the founding of many new schools. These schools taught church doctrines” (De Lamar, 1981, p. 37).

             “The great Reformation movement saw the birth of common schools advocated by Martin Luther. The invention of the printing press prepared the way for popular education. The Reformation first utilized the press on a large scale, and gave a powerful impulse to common schools” (Schaff, 1910, p. 512).

            The church in Geneva made provision “for the establishment of schools, and specifically for ‘a college to teach the children,’ so as to prepare them for the ministry as well as for the civil government” (De Lamar, 1981, pp. 118-119). These schools served the purpose of both educational and religious centers to the reformers

            Schools were also established by the Jesuits. Their aim was “to educate and spiritually train the youth of the church” (Ibid, p. 178).

            In the new world, pioneers of the church were responsible for the establishment of the great majority of colonial colleges and many other institutions. Sponsored by the church, these grew up rapidly during the westward expansion.

            The main objectives of these educators were to inculcate into youthful minds particular views with regards to the nature of humans and the universe as well as specific knowledge and values.

            Today, church schools flourish everywhere. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church has the largest educational system in the world, second to the Roman Catholic Church.

Content-Centered Approach Versus Child-Centered Approach to Education

            The content-centered approach to education is posited in philosophical views such as idealism, realism, and neo-scholasticism; and in the educational theories of essentialism and perennialism; whereas the centered-learner approach is evident in pragmatism, existentialism, humanism, and progressivism


The Child-Centered Educational Approach

            According to the child-centered approach, education is characterized by reference to the nature of the individual to be taught. This approach, it is believed, recognizes the value of the individual. The child-centered approach to education has the following features:

            The curriculum. The curriculum emerges from the needs, pressing questions, experiences, and interests of the child. McNeil (1985) postulates that the curriculum should provide personally satisfying experiences for each individual. He further states that the goals of education are dynamic personal processes related to the ideals of personal growth, integrity, and autonomy. Healthier attitudes toward self, peers, and learning are among their expectations. The ideal of self-actualization is at the heart of the child-centered curriculum. The humanists, pragmatists, and existentialists hold that since the needs of the learners change, the curriculum should change and expand to meet their needs. To the pragmatists, the educational process should enable the child to manage change in a healthy manner and to adapt to the constantly changing world of the present and future. Education is thus continuous throughout life, fluid, dynamic, and open-ended. To existentialists, students’ choice is the deciding factor in selection of subject matter which is presented according to students’ affective development.

            The role of the teacher. The child-centered educational approach holds that the teacher is a facilitator, a guide, an advisor, and a fellow traveler. McNeil (1985) states that the teacher must provide warmth and nurture emotions while continuing to function as a resource center. The teacher motivates students through mutual trust. The teacher encourages a positive-student relationship by teaching out of her own interests and commitments while holding to the belief that each child can learn. Coercive methods and manipulations have absolutely no place in the child-centered approach to education.

            Methods. A variety of methods suitable to the developmental level of the learner and the subject matter are favored. According to the pragmatist, the learner-centered curriculum necessitates team teaching and interdepartmental offerings. Projects are preferred to lectures. The classroom is a scientific laboratory to put ideas to the test and to verify them. Individualized instruction is considered appropriate to meet the individual needs of the child. Classroom activity should focus on solving problems, rather than on artificial methods of teaching subject matter. Humanists and progressivists favor integrated methods of teaching. Cooperative learning strategies, active involvement of students learning, freedom of movement among students are methods deemed appropriate to child-centered education.

            Assessment. The child-centered evaluator emphasizes process rather than product or content. Activities are considered worthwhile if the affective needs of the child are included in them, and if these activities contribute to the development of values.

            The social atmosphere of the school. A child-centered educational approach dictates that schools are democratic and cooperative communities. Student councils are usually found in such communities.

The Content-Centered Educational Approach

            The content-centered approach is characterized in terms of the social or other goals external to the individual. This approach, it has been argued by some, leads to the totalitarian theories of education. The academic-orientation to education is an example of the content-centered approach and has the following features:

            The curriculum. The subject matter, not the child, stands at the center of the educational endeavor. McNeill (1985) postulates that the curriculum is the vehicle by which learners are introduced to subject matter disciplines and to organized fields of study. The organized content of subject matter is viewed as a curriculum to be pursued rather than as a source of information for dealing with local and personal problems. The curriculum is seen as the best way to develop the mind–that mastery of the kind of knowledge commonly found in such a curriculum contributes to rational thinking. Knowledge is universally consistent, therefore, certain basic subject matter should be taught to all people. According to essentialists and perennialists, at the elementary level, the curriculum should emphasize the mastery of the 3 or 4 R’s. The mastery of reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion would eliminate the necessity for basic English at the college level, and would eradicate functionally illiterate graduates of high schools. For the realists, the curriculum is reduced to knowledge that can be measured.

            The role of the teacher. The teacher is the focus of classroom activity. He knows what the student ought to learn, and has the responsibility of presenting the subject matter in logical sequence. The teacher is an enforcer of discipline to create an atmosphere where learning can take place, and mental discipline is developed.

            Methods. Memorization, drills, problem-solving, computation, and scientific methods, are chosen methods to enhance learning. Methods used by the realists include lectures, field trips, demonstrations, sensory experiences, inductive reasoning, film, filmstrips, record, television, and other audio-visual aids which might serve in the place of direct sensory experience. The library is the center of activity.

            Assessment. At the classroom level, the means of evaluation vary according to the objectives of the different subject matters. Value is placed on the learner’s use of given processes and modes of thought as well as knowledge of facts and themes. Logical rigor and experimental adequacy are highly prized (McNeil, 1985, pp. 72-73).

            The climate of the school. The environment is structured and regimented. There is no emphasis on the social and affective dimension of the learner. Authoritarianism permeates the climate of the school.

Curriculum and Teaching Method of the (A) Idealist, (B) Realist,

            and (C) Pragmatist

The Curriculum of the Idealist

            The idealist concentrates on the mental development of the learner. The curriculum emphasizes the study of the humanities. The proper study of mankind, history, and literature are the center of the idealist curriculum. Literary pieces considered the masterworks of humanity occupy an important place in the ideal curriculum. Pure mathematics is also included in the curriculum as it is based upon universal a priori principles and provide methods of dealing with abstractions. The library is the center of activity in the idealist school. Because the idealist holds that certain truths are universal and permanent, it means that there can be change or innovation in the curriculum. The subject matter for the school is that which is concerned with the ideal person and ideal society. The curriculum does not deal adequately with social policy.

            The teacher occupies a crucial position in the idealist school. The teacher serves as a living example of what the student can become intellectually, socially, and ethically. The teacher’s role is to pass on the knowledge of reality as he or she stands closer to the Absolute than do the students.

The Teaching Method of the Idealist

            Idealists rely on lectures and discussions. Students also learn by imitating the teacher or some other person who is closely attuned with the Absolute. Idealists also rely heavily on deductive logic. The idealist has little uses for field trips and sensory data.

The Curriculum of the Realist

            The primary aims of education are to teach children the laws of nature and those values that will lead to the good life. Of course, the good life is that which conforms to the natural law. The realist views the curriculum as reducible to knowledge that can be measured. The curriculum includes science in all of its many branches. The study of science will teach students the underlying order of the universe. Other subjects included in the curriculum are mathematics and the social sciences. According to the realist, mathematics represents a precise, abstract, symbolic system for describing the laws of the universe. The social sciences are seen as dealing with the mechanical and natural forces which bear on human behavior.

            In the idealist school, the teacher occupies a vantage point and her role is that of a guide. She is to introduce the students to the regularities and rhythm of nature so that they may comprehend the natural law. The knowledge transmitted by the teacher should be free of biases and of her personality. To remove teacher biases from factual presentations, the realist recommends the use of teaching machines. Teaching is best when it is most objective, abstract, and dehumanized.

The Method of the Realist

            The method of the realist involves teaching for the mastery of facts in order to develop an understanding of the natural law. This is best accomplished by using drills and exercises. Learning is enhanced through direct or indirect sensory experiences such as field trips, the use of films, filmstrips, records, television, radio, etc.

            The realist favors the use of inductive logic, but is opposed to individualized instruction, pleasurable hours on the playing field or the self-expression of art and music.

The Curriculum of the Pragmatist

            According to the pragmatist, the curriculum should be learner-centered. It should change as the needs of the learner varies. Because reality is constantly changing, the curriculum should be built around natural units which grow out of the pressing questions and experiences of the learner. The school experience is a part of life rather than a preparation for life. Thus, the function of the school should be to teach students to manage change and adapt in a healthy manner. The process of learning is more important than the content. To the pragmatist, since the only human reality is experience, schools should carefully define the nature of experience and establish certain criteria for judging. Education is a continuous, fluid, dynamic, and open-ended, lifelong process that should contribute to the child’s continuing growth. Schools should be democratic communities in which students participate in the decision-making process in anticipation to their future participation in the decision-making process of the larger society.

The Method of the Pragmatist

            The learner-centered curriculum necessitates team teaching and interdepartmental course offerings. Projects are preferred to lectures. Methodology centers around giving the student a great deal of freedom of choice in seeking out the experimental learning situations that will be most meaningful to them. The classroom becomes a scientific laboratory where ideas are tested to see if they are capable of verification. Problems selected for solving must be the real problems of the child. The problem-solving method is rooted in the psychological needs of the student rather than the logical order of the subject matter. This method helps students use intelligence and the scientific method in the solution of problems that are meaningful to them. Field trips have definite advantages over reading and audio-visual experiences, since the student has a better chance to participate in first-hand interaction with the environment.







What is Philosophy?

            Philosophy has its roots in two Greek words: Philos (love) and Sophos (wisdom). Etymologically, philosophy means the love or the pursuit of wisdom. It is the organized system of knowledge resulting from the persistent attempt of man’s intellect to understand and describe the world in which we live. It involves an effort to solve fundamental problems, to gain a comprehensive view of the universe, and to find answers to questions on the origin, nature, and destiny of matter, energy, life, mind, good, and evil.

            W. T. Jones has given the following definition of philosophy:

Philosophy is the eternal search for truth, a search which inevitably fails and yet is never defeated; which continually eludes us, but which always guides us. This free, intellectual life of the mind is the noblest inheritance of the Western World; it is also the hope of our future” (Klemke, 1986, p. 11).

            Philosophy is that careful, critical, systematic work of the intellect in the formulation of beliefs with the aim of making them represent the highest of probability, in the face of the fact that adequate data are not obtainable for demonstrable conclusions.

            Philosophy is the love of wisdom and the relentless inquiry after truth. As such, it attempts to enable humans to seek consistently and coherently after the illusion and integrated wholeness of self, society, and the world in a meaningful pattern.

            Philosophy is an activity that involves three aspects: synthesizing, speculating, prescribing, and analyzing.

            Philosophy is also an attitude that involves self-awareness, comprehensiveness, penetration, and flexibility.

            Philosophy is a body of content which deals with the nature of reality (the metaphysical question); the nature, origin, methods, and limits of human intelligence (the epistemological question), the beliefs about values (the axiological question).

The Aims and Tasks of Philosophy

            The aims of philosophy are:

            1. The critical scrutiny of our beliefs and convictions. We should be willing to examine and appraise critically our most cherished beliefs and convictions.

            2. The bringing to light of our hidden assumptions and presuppositions. As long as we are unaware of our assumptions, we are not intellectually free. We are enslaved to them and to all of the consequences they entail.

            3. The quest for a genuinely worthwhile life. For Socrates the only worthwhile life for a human being is what he called the examined life. The unexamined life is not worth living.

            4. The effort to keep alive our sense of wonder about the world. This sense of wonder and desire to learn, to know, to contemplate the mysteries of life and the universe has given rise to philosophy, science, religion, art, and culture.

            5. The posing of certain questions which are not dealt with by other disciplines. Some of these questions cannot be answered by observation, experimental procedures, or by formal or linguistic determinations. Some of these questions are general and have very little practical utility, or are such that there are no obvious and standard procedures or techniques for answering them.

            To lead a worthwhile life, one must be willing to reflect on one’s personal cultural beliefs and values, try to understand self and others. To examine these beliefs and values and those of others, one needs to exercise one’s ability to be skeptical of those various beliefs and values, to ask evidence or reasons for them, to dig out their assumptions and implications and to look at them with a critical eye. It involves understanding and being true to oneself.

Metaphysical Questions

            Metaphysics is the area of philosophy that deals with the nature of reality. It asks the question, What is ultimately real? Metaphysical questions may be divided into four categories: (1) cosmology, (2) theology, (3) anthropology, (4) ontology.

            1. Cosmology. Cosmology deals with the problems pertaining to the natural world in general. It consists of studies and theories about the origin of nature and the development of the universe as an orderly system.

            2. Theology. Theology has to do with problems about the existence and nature of God. It answers questions such as: Is there a God? If God exists, what are His attributes? Are there such beings as angels, the Holy Spirit, and Lucifer? Why does evil exist? Is the existence of evil in the world compatible with the existence of an all-powerful and supremely benevolent God?

            3. Anthropology. Anthropology deals with problems pertaining to human beings. The main questions of concern are: Does the self exist in any real, substantial way as a unitary, continuous entity? If so, is it a special mental, non-material substance? Or is what I call my self identical with my body or some part of my body, for example my brain? Why is the relationship between mind and body? Which is more fundamental, mind or body? What is man’s moral status? Is man born good or evil? To what extent is man free? Does man have a soul?

            Ontology. Ontology is also synonymous with general metaphysics. It is concerned with broad questions such as, “What kinds of things are real? Is there a material world? Is basic reality found in matter or is it found in spirit or spiritual energy? Is it composed of one or two or many elements? Is reality orderly and lawful in itself, or is it merely orderable by mankind? Is it fixed and stable? Does it change its central features? Is this reality friendly, unfriendly, or neutral in regards to humanity?

Are Most Philosophers Atheists?

            There is a misconception that most philosophers are atheists. I refute this misconception on the ground that an examination of the lives, work, and philosophy of some of the great philosophers will reveal that they discovered a divine pattern in the world and believed that a creator made the universe and sustains it. I will present only a few of these great philosophers as summarized by Thomas (1998) and will parallel some of them with truths found in the Bible.

            Socrates, the philosopher of the ancient world, repudiated the idea of polytheism, commonly embraced by the Athenians, and proposed the idea of monotheism–the belief in one God. The belief in one God is reflected in the Jews’ concept of God. “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4).

            According to Plato, every temporal objective in this world is the copy of an eternal idea that exists in the mind of God. Thus, you and I are human copies of the divine idea of man. This philosophy seems to harmonize with the Genesis Biblical truth that humans were made in the image of God. Every good deed is a representation of the eternal idea of goodness. The Bible says that every perfect and good gift comes from the Father above.

            Aristotle’s prolific pen produced thousands of books covering the entire field of religion, science, and the arts.

            Thomas Aquinas was consumed with the wonder and mystery of the world. At the age of five, he asked the question, what is God? And he spent the rest of his life in an effort to find the answer. Aquinas believed that the highest good of man is to strive toward the perfection of God. Jesus invites us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

            Augustine believed that the material exists in time but the ideal exists in eternity. God exists out of time just as He exists out of space. Your conception of time is relative to your position in the universe.

            Bishop Berkeley postulated that if it were not for the mind of God, objects would disappear when we cease to think about them.

            For Voltaire, the book of nature revealed the majesty of God. The splendor of creation revealed the creator. The same theme is found in Psalms 19.


Justification of Philosophy in Our Age of Science

            One of the aims of philosophy is to pose and attempt to answer questions which are not dealt with by other disciplines. Questions which may not have practical utility, but which have profound impact on the quality of human lives. One of these disciplines which does not deal with these questions is science.

            Since scientists deal strictly with problems which they can potentially solve with demonstrable conclusions, this approach has left large fields uncultivated and neglected (the rearing of children, the conduct of business and family, interpersonal relationships, politics, psychology, history, law, etc.). Philosophers seek to provide answers to these problems although an element of conjecture may remain in whatever conclusion is reached. Philosophy is thus necessary because it provides a basis for actions which arise from life’s situations. Philosophy becomes the lamp that enlightened our darkened path.

            Moreover, innovations in science itself such as in vitro fertilization, euthanasia, cloning, genetic engineering have given rise to new ethical concerns. Professions affected by these innovations, and by extension the judicial system, have not been able to keep up with these innovations and are left with innumerable questions which need to be answered. The most controversial issue in recent years has been the cases involving Dr. Kevorkian who is now in prison because he assisted patients to die. This case represents a good argument for the justification of philosophy in this age of science.

            Additionally, an examination of some aspects of the work of science and philosophy will show that the two must coexist in order for human beings to arrive at a more objective and comprehensive knowledge.

            The aim of science is to uncover new facts. The aim of philosophy is to reorganize our prevailing beliefs in such a way as to incorporate those new facts.

            To observe processes and construct means is science. To criticize and coordinate ends is philosophy.

            Science is analytical description. Philosophy is synthetic interpretation.

            Research is increasing rather than decreasing the need for philosophical work. The more science we have, the more philosophy we need. Science gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom.

Relationship Between Science and Philosophy

            Science and philosophy are inextricably connected. Every science, postulates Thomas (1998), begins as philosophy and ends in art. It arises in a hypothesis and flows into achievement. Philosophy provides to science the consciousness needed to make it useful to humanity. The aim of science is to uncover new facts. The aim of philosophy is to reorganize our prevailing beliefs in such a way as to incorporate those new facts.

            Both science and philosophy use logic in their critical work of the intellect. Logical reasoning and dialectical clarification of meaning are as necessary to science as to philosophy. Philosophy and science share certain methods of investigation.

            Science is far from being self-sufficient with regards to methods, and science certainly is not inherently capable of dealing with the whole range of human experiences.

Definition of Terms

            Metaphysics. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of reality–what is ultimately real. Metaphysics means “beyond physics,” and represents the speculative and synthesizing activities of philosophy which provides the theoretical framework that allows scientists to create world views and develop hypotheses that can be tested according to the basic assumptions. Thus, theories of science are related to theories of reality.

            Epistemology. Epistemology is that branch of philosophy which studies the nature of truth and the sources and validity of knowledge. It seeks to answer such questions as: “What is true?” and “How do we know?” The study of epistemology deals with such issues as the criterion of knowledge, the possibility of knowledge, the sources of knowledge, the grounds of knowledge, and the right to believe.

            Axiology. Axiology is the branch of philosophy that seeks to answer the question: “What is of value.” It is concerned with questions pertaining to the nature of value judgements, those which are ethical and aesthetical in character. Values deal with what a person or a society conceives of as being good or preferable.

            Idealism. Idealism is the metaphysical view that ideas are the only reality. It denies the existence of material things.

            Realism. Realism is the metaphysical view that physical objects continue to exist when not perceived.

            Pragmatism. It is the philosophical position that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge, meaning, and value. It rests on the assumptions that the world of experience, accessible to scientific enquiry, is all we can know and propositions and acts have meaning only in terms of their verifiable, public consequences.

            Scholasticism. It is a Medieval intellectual movement that used rational processes to prove existing truth. It was the attempt to rationalize theology in order to buttress faith by reason. The essence of scholasticism is rationalism.

Idealism: Ultimate Reality Is Non-Material and Mental

            Truth to the idealists lies in the realm of ideas. Ideas, they postulate, preceded matter. Thus ideas have intrinsic value, while matter has extrinsic value. Some idealists have identified an absolute mind or absolute self, who is constantly thinking these ideas. George Berkeley, a Christian idealist, identified the concept of absolute self with God. Therefore, God is the ultimate reality.

            I agree with the idea that God is the ultimate reality. He is the one whose thoughts originated all things. God spoke and the world came into existence. Everything in the universe has its source in the mind of God.

            I also agree that ideas such as truth, beauty, and honor are absolute as they are embodied in the person of God. These ideas are unchangeable as God is unchangeable.

The Correspondence Theory of Truth Versus The Coherence Theory of Truth

            To test truths proponents of these theories take two different routes. The proponents of the Correspondence Theory of Truth use facts or reality to test truth, while proponents of The Coherence Theory of Truth use other judgments that have been previously accepted as true to test truth.

            Both have their limitations. The Correspondence Theory of Truth works well when one deals with physical objects, moods, emotions, hope, ambition, fears, moral truths. Critics of this theory argue that we may not be able to compare our ideas with reality because we only know our own experiences and cannot get outside of our experiences to compare these ideas with reality in the truest sense. It is also argued that things our senses perceive are clear and accurate which may not necessarily be so. Critics also point out that there are ideas that have no concrete evidence outside the area of human thought, with which we can make valid comparison.

            Critics of the Coherence Theory argue that false systems of thought can be just as internally consistent as true systems of thought. A distinction would therefore have to be made between what is consistently true or erroneous.

The Criterion for Knowledge

            The area of philosophy which deals with knowledge is epistemology.

             What is knowledge? Knowledge is that which is absolutely certain as opposed to probable knowledge. It is that which is significant and informative as opposed to knowledge which is trivial. Knowledge is more than or opposed to belief.

            The criterion for knowledge deals with what constitutes genuine knowledge as opposed to opinion or belief. So what is the criterion for knowledge? The traditional answer is found in what is known as the justified-true-belief account. According to John Hospers cited in Klemke (1986), we know a proposition to be true or to be knowledge if it meets the following three requirements:

            1. It must meet the truth requirement. The proposition we hold must be true. This is the objective requirement.

            2. It must meet the subjective requirement. We must believe that the proposition is true.

            3. It must meet the evidence requirement. We must have adequate evidence to support the proposition.

The Sources of Knowledge

            There are five sources of knowledge, namely: the senses, revelation, authority, reason and intuition.

            1. The senses. Knowledge is obtained through the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and it is built into the very nature of human experience. Sensory knowledge is universal and forms the basis of our knowledge. It is incomplete and undependable.

            2. Revelation. This is revealed knowledge. It is of prime importance, especially in the field of education. It differs from all other sources of knowledge by presupposing a transcendent, supernatural reality that breaks into the natural order. Truth obtained through revelation is believed to be absolute and uncontaminated. However, it can be distorted in the process of human interpretation. It must be accepted by faith and cannot be disproved or proved empirically.

            3. Authority. Authoritative knowledge comes from the experts. It is only as valid as the assumptions on which it stands.

            4. Reason. Knowledge can be arrived at through the use of reason or deductive reasoning. The view that reasoning or logic is the central factor in knowledge is known as rationalism.

            5. Intuition. It is the faculty of knowing without the use of rational processes. It is the most personal way of knowing. It is immediate cognition or sharp insight. It occurs beneath the threshold of consciousness

World Views


            “A world view is a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic make-up of our world.” (Sire, 1988).

            Sire (1994) refers to a world view as a unifying system of thoughts which function as the glue that holds together our melting pot society, providing a systematic way of looking at the world and conditioning how we interpret the meaning of daily life.

Essence of World Views

Christian Theism

            The essence of Christian Theism is that a supreme being called God exists. He is the creator, in control of humans’ destiny, and humans are accountable to Him. He gives meaning to life and is personal in His relationship and dealings with humans. He is worthy of worship because in His creation He has made provisions to take care of all humans’ needs.


            Deism admits the existence of a creator God as the first-cause, but denies revealed religion based on the light of nature and reason. God does not possess the attributes supported by Christian Theism and is not interested in His creation. The universe is seen as the giant clock and human beings are part of the clockwork of the universe.


            God does not exist. Matter is all that exists. The world can be explained in scientific terms without recourse to a supernatural being.


            Man is a useless passion, a body of feelings.


            God is dead. Only the present counts. “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die.”


            Man is the measure, the ultimate being. He is the standard by which values are to be determined. He is the complete authority and all reality and life centers around him.


            The basic doctrines are: “If it works, use it.” Where there is a will, there is a way. Results are what count. The test for truth is the individual himself.



            Knowledge is what can be measured empirically. Reality is what the senses perceive.


            There is diversity in this world. Unity can be achieved. Right is relative. Only the transcendent realm is absolute.


            The goal of life is to seek pleasure and avoid pain.









The Philosophical Positions of (A) Idealism, (B) Realism, (C) Pragmatism

The Philosophical Position of Idealism

            The philosophical position of idealism is that:

            1. Reality is essentially mental and spiritual and not physical.

            2. Nothing is real except that which exists in the mind.

            3. Ultimate reality lies in a realm transcending phenomena.

            4. The essential nature of reality lies in consciousness or reason.

            5. Actions should attempt to approximate some preexistent idea of right conduct.

The Philosophical Position of Realism

            This philosophical position holds that:

            1. The real world exists independently of any experience to it.

            2. Propositions are true only if they can correspond with the known facts, laws, and principles of the objective world external to us. Ontology and metaphysics are still necessary.

            3. The universe is composed of matter in motion.

            4. It is the physical world in which we live that makes up reality. We can, on the basis of our experiences recognize certain regularities in it which we generalize about and call laws.

            5. The vast cosmos rolls on despite man. Matter continues in motion whether man concerns himself with it or not.

            6. The orderly nature and composition of the world exist independent of consciousness, but which man has come to know a great deal about.

What Is Pragmatism?

            Stumpf (1966) stated that Pragmatism emerged at the end of the nineteenth century as the most original contribution of American thought to the enterprise of philosophy. This movement was given its initial theoretical formulation by Charles S. Peirce; it was given wide and popular circulation through the brilliant and lucid essays of Williams James; and it was methodically implemented into the daily affairs of American institutions by John Dewey. What united these men was their conviction that there must be a close connection between thinking and doing. The pragmatist philosophers saw little value in modes of thinking that did not somehow make a difference in daily life. At the same time, they concluded that behavior that did not rest upon thought was lacking an important ingredient. For the original pragmatists, therefore, the term practical meant the way thought works in action.

            Thomas (1988) states that Pragmatism is an American philosophical movement resting on the assumptions that the world of experience, accessible to scientific enquiry, is all we can know and that propositions and acts have meaning in terms of their verifiable, public consequences.

            William James defined pragmatism as the attitude of looking away from first things, principles, categories, supposed necessities, and of looking toward last things, fruits, consequences, and facts.

The Philosophical Position of Pragmatism

            1. Where there is a will, there is a way.

            2. Man’s time is best spent solving today’s problems.

            3. The truth is what is practical, because the truth is what works

            4. Truth cannot be known in a closed system with any experience on the other side; therefore, truth is determined by experimentation.

            5. Cosmological reality has been undergoing change over the past centuries.

            6. Reality is not fixed, but is in a constant state of flux as man’s experience broadens.

            7. The seeking of knowledge is a transaction between man and his environment.

The Seeking of Knowledge as a Transaction

            A transaction usually occurs between two parties. The parties involved in the seeking of knowledge are man and the environment. Man has an active and exploratory mind rather than one that is passive and receptive. Man produces knowledge as he interacts with the environment. Man acts upon the environment and then undergoes certain consequences. He learns from this transactional experience with the world around him. This knowledge, which man acquires, is thus rooted in experience and is therefore a transaction.

The Core of Idealism

            Idealism is at its core an emphasis on the reality of ideas, thoughts and mind, rather than stressing material objects and forces. Idealism emphasizes mind as being basic or prior to matter, and even contends that mind is real, while matter is a by-product of the mind.

Dichotomous Reality of the Idealist

            To the idealist, reality is divided into two parts. There is a world that man perceives through his senses. This is the world of the apparent–the world that is readily seen, the world of objects. But more important, there is the world of reality that we perceive through our mind. The world of the mind focuses on ideas and these eternal ideas precede and are more important than the physical world of sensation. Some idealists have postulated an absolute mind of self, who is constantly thinking these ideas. George Berkeley, a Christian idealist, identified the concept of absolute with God. God is the Absolute Self or Absolute Mind.

New Realism Versus Critical Realism

            The new realist and the critical realist can be distinguished based on their view of knowledge. The new realist holds a presentational view of knowledge, whereas the critical realist holds a representational view of it.

            The position of the new realist is that we know the real object as it exists. When one perceives something, it is the same thing that exists in the real world. This mind becomes the relationship between the subject and the object. This is the presentational view of knowledge.

            The critical realist takes a different view of knowledge, one which seems better able to account for errors in perception. The critical realist felt than man could not know the world directly, but only through certain vehicles or essences. Thus, objects are not present to consciousness but are represented. Their position is a representational view. This means that although something exists in reality, our knowledge is not of it, but a representation of it.

What Is Sense Realism?

            Sense realism or scientific realism holds that reality is found in the forces and laws of nature. The ultimate aim of the sense realists was to develop a natural society by working in accord with the laws of nature. They aimed at the discovery and utilization of the secrets of nature for the real and practical benefits they could bring to man in the everyday work of the world. They also believed that the operations of the inner processes of the mind were also a part of the laws of nature.

Bishop Berkeley’s Idea of Reality - My Position

            Bishop Berkeley set out to deny the existence of matter. He postulated that “to be is to be perceived” (Stumpf, Socrates to Sartre, p. 290). This would mean that if something were not perceived, it would not exist. According to Stumpf, Berkeley, in His New Theory of Vision, argued that all our knowledge depends upon actual vision and other sensory experiences. In particular Berkeley argued that we never sense space or magnitude; we only have different visions or perceptions of things when we see them from different perspectives. Nor do we see distance; the distance of objects is suggested by our experience. All that we see are the qualities (such as color, texture, odor, etc.) of an object that our faculty of vision is capable of sensing. Berkeley argued that size, shape, and motion abstracted from all other qualities are inconceivable (p. 291).

            Berkeley’s view is similar to that of idealism which holds that ordinary objects exist only when perceived. For Berkeley, the whole problem turned on how we interpret the word exists. An object, such as a chair, exists in a real physical sense only when someone is thinking of it. The only place the chair exists permanently is in the Supreme Mind (God) which is always conscious of it. The chair exists in the mind of God which serves a storage place. The chair only exists when God allows us to perceive it, since matter, like all reality is essentially mental. God is thus the Ultimate Reality, and not material things. According to Stumpf, Berkeley’s view undermined the position of philosophical materialism and religious skepticism. He went on to say that, building upon Locke’s empiricism, Berkeley made the decisive point that the human mind reasons only and always about particular sense experiences, that abstract ideas refer to no equivalent reality.

            In a sense, I agree with Berkeley’s view that God is indeed the Ultimate Reality, and that matter came forth as a result of the outworking of God’s mind. He spoke and the world came into existence. He is the Creator God. Not only is He Ultimate Reality, but in a very real sense, human beings can know God through His creation. Furthermore, as Christians, life only has purpose and meaning as we fulfill God’s plan for our individual lives. Human eternal destiny is tied up and dependent on the Ultimate Reality.

            I disagree with Berkeley’s position that matter exists only as we perceive them. Although a blind person cannot “see” objects, yet these objects exist independently of his sight. As a matter of fact, the blind person may collide with an object he cannot see and feel its impact. Matter is real, but it is not that which is ultimately important, for at the second coming of Jesus Christ, the world and all that are therein will perish in a lake of fire.

            Berkeley’s viewpoint raises the questions of knowledge and whether truth is independent of human experience. He postulated that the human mind reasons only and always about particular sense experiences, that abstract ideas refer to no equivalent reality. I would argue that:

            1. There is knowledge that is independent of human awareness. Such knowledge is called a priori knowledge. The human mind, for example, reasons about God, the Ultimate Reality, yet no one has ever seen God. But this same God, Christians believe, has been manifested in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. This abstract idea has an equivalent in reality.

            2. There is knowledge that requires human experience or verification. This is called a posteriori knowledge. For example, someone may say it is raining. To know whether it is raining outside, one would have to look out and put one’s hand out of the window to verify that it is raining.

            I would further argue that human reasoning does not always dependent upon sense experience. Knowledge can originate from many sources such as revelation, reason, and intuition.

            The rationalists maintain that mankind has the power to know with certainty various truths about the universe which the senses alone cannot give, as sensory experiences must be organized by the mind into a meaningful system before it becomes knowledge.

            Knowledge can be derived from intuition. Intuition is the act or faculty of knowing without the use of rational processes. It is immediate cognition or sharp insight. Intuition occurs beneath the “threshold of consciousness.” It is a very personal way of knowing.

            Knowledge obtained from divine revelation presupposes a transcendent supernatural reality that breaks into the natural order. Truth gained through this source is believed to be absolute and uncontaminated. However, it is realized that revealed truth can be distorted in the process of human interpretation.

What Is Scholasticism?

            During the Medieval period, there arose a problem of relating philosophy and theology. Medieval thinkers expressed this problem as the relation between faith and reason. The viewpoints of Plato and Aristotle seemed to be at odds with the accepted Medieval Christian Faith. Stumpf (1966), states that St. Thomas Aquinas brought together in a formidable synthesis the insights of classical philosophy and Christian Theology. He clarified the precise questions involved, acknowledging alternative solutions offered by different authorities, and answering the major objections of the Aristotelian-Christian solution. In this way, Aquinas perfected the “scholastic method” (p. 186). His Suma Theologica purported that a person should acquire as much knowledge as possible through the use of human reason, and they rely on faith in that realm beyond the scope of human understanding. This philosophy of Aquinas is called Thomism. It is the official position of the Roman Catholics.

            The term scholasticism, thus refers to the intellectual activity carried on in the Medieval cathedral schools, and its proponents were called doctors scholastici. Stumpf goes on to explain that scholasticism came to refer to the dominant system of thought developed by doctors in the schools and to the special method they utilized in teaching philosophy. Scholastic philosophy was an attempt to put together a coherent system of traditional thought rather than a pursuit of genuinely novel forms of insight. The content of this system was for the most part a fusion of Christian Theology and the philosophies of Plato and especially Aristotle. Most distinctive in scholasticism was its method, a process relying chiefly upon strict logical deduction, taking on the form of an intricate system and expressed in a dialectical or disputational form in which theology dominated philosophy (p. 186). The essence of scholasticism is thus rationalism.

Am I an Idealist, a Realist, or a Pragmatist?

            I hold philosophical views from these three schools of thought. As an idealist, I believe that God is the Ultimate Reality and that matter is a by-product of God’s mind. Psalms 33:6 says: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made and all the hosts of them by the breath of his mouth.” It was the Word of God that provided the creative energy that brought the world into existence.

            I also believe that the a priori concepts of truth, beauty, and honor are absolute. All of these concepts are manifested in God who is absolute truth, beauty, honor, and goodness. To apprehend the reality of ideas, human beings rely on the intellect and reasoning. This position is congruent with that of Ellen G. White who states that every human being created in the image of God is endowed with a power akin to that of the creator–individuality and the power to think and to do. . . She also postulates that “higher than the human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children.”

            Idealism holds that the teacher is the center of the educational process and the person closest to Absolute Reality. I believe that Jesus, the Master Teacher, is the center and object of Christian education and that by knowing Him, the gap caused by sin can be bridged and I can enjoy fellowship again with God. Furthermore, by imitating the Master Teacher, my character will be made in the likeness of the Divine. God is the Ideal who does not change. His standards are universal and have universal applications.

            I am also a realist because I hold the view that education should be concerned with the actual realities of life in all its aspect. Newmann and Whelage cited in Sergiovanni (1998) state that authentic student learning is the result of active engagement of the student with the material of the curriculum. Authenticity calls for student accomplishment to reflect (1) the construction of knowledge, (2) through disciplined inquiry, (3) to produce discourse, products, and performances that have meaning beyond success in school. In other words, for education to be valid, it must be contextualized. It must relate to the actual realities of life in all its aspects. Problems and concepts presented in the classroom must be similar to those students have encountered, or are likely to encounter, in life beyond the classroom. There must be a connection between the classroom and reality.

            Like the sense realist, I believe that education should aim at encouraging students to work in accord not only with the laws of nature, but with the moral, mental, and spiritual laws of God. Ellen G. White supports this view when she states that: “To transgress His law, physical, mental, or moral is to place oneself out of harmony with the universe, to introduce discord, anarchy, ruin.” (White, 1903, p. 100).

            John Locke’s notion of the mind as a tabula rasa is particularly relevant to the concept of the training of the young. I believe that the formative years of children, from one to seven, are very important and that parents should dedicate time and energy in fashioning their impressionable minds. Since children acquire the contents of the mind through experience, parents should expose them to what is lovely, pure, virtuous, and true. Therefore, they should guard jealously their children’s avenues to the soul. Parents should introduce children to the love of God as reflected and demonstrated in their own lives and as revealed in nature. Mrs. White admonishes that:

So far as possible, let the child from his earliest years be placed where this wonderful lesson shall be open before him. Let him behold the glorious scenes painted by the great Master Artist upon the shifting canvas of the heavens, let him become acquainted with the wonders of earth and sea, let him watch the unfolding mysteries of the changing season, and, in all His works learn of the Creator (White, 1903, pp. 100-101).

            God Himself is a realist in that He was concerned with the reality of humanity’s sinful condition and had already established a plan before the fall to redeem it so that, in the fullness of time Christ came born of a woman, born under the law to die for sinners.

            I am also a pragmatist. I believe that knowledge is rooted in experience. At the spiritual level, I believe that my knowledge of God is grounded in the experience I have with Him. At the educational level, I believe that students learn best when they interact with the material presented to them, especially in meaningful projects and simulations. My learning style reflects the following pragmatic characteristics:

            1. I have a reputation for saying what I think, simply and directly.

            2. What matters most to me is whether something works in practice.

            3. When I hear about a new idea or approach, I immediately start working out how to apply it in practice.

            4. I accept and stick to laid down procedures and policies so long as I regard them as an efficient way of getting the job done.

            5. In discussions, I like to get straight to the point.

            6. In meetings, I put forward practical, realistic ideas.

            7. I can often see better, more practical ways to get things done.

            Like the pragmatist, I believe that (1) education is a lifelong process, (2) we will continue to learn even in the new earth, and (3) teachers must instill into students a love for lifelong learning. I also believe that education should be learner-centered and that the curriculum and my teaching methods and strategies should be adapted to the needs of students.

Every Rational Person is a Philosopher

            I agree that every rational person is a philosopher. The following arguments will support my claim:

            1. E. G. White states: “Every human being, created in the image of God is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator–individuality, power to think and to do. . .” This statement is supported by Genesis 1:27, NKJV: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” This implies that every human being is endowed with mental faculties such as the ability to think, to reason, to think symbolically and abstractly, to discover, etc.

            2. Every rational person who lives must at some point reflect on problems such as the existence of God, the existence of evil, immortality, etc., and must arrive at answers that will satisfy his own longings and desire. This is the work of a philosopher.

            3. Every rational person must decide what is good, what is of value, what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, what is the correct standard of conduct. This is the work of a philosopher.

            4. Every rational person will be faced with situations when she must critically scrutinize beliefs and convictions and change them in the light of evidence, discussion, and criticism. This is the work of a philosopher.

            5. Every rational person wants to know more about the external world in which he lives and how his action affects the world around him. This is the work of a philosopher.

            6. Every rational person wants to know how to live a better, worthwhile life. This is the work of a philosopher.

            7. Every rational person searches for truth, meaning, and purpose for existence. This is the work of a philosopher.

            8. Every rational person wants to know more about oneself and human nature in general in order to deal better with the complexities and great issues of life. This is the work of a philosopher.

            9. Every rational person wants to keep in touch with new developments in the field of science and technology and connect them with one’s own search for meaning and understanding. This is the work of a philosopher.

            10. Every rational person is naturally curious and is sometimes struck by what she considers odd or strange or mysterious to comprehend. This desire to learn, to know, to contemplate the mysteries of life and the universe is also the work of a philosopher.









Logical Arguments for the Existence of God

            All human beings at one time or another in their existence must face the problem of the existence of God. Is there a god? Are there any good reasons to believe that a god exists? If so, what are they? If there is no god, are there any good reasons to reject the belief? If so, what are they? The answer to these questions has profound consequences for our lives.

            Since the existence of God cannot be proven by experimentation, how can one settle this problem? Philosophers say that this issue must be settled on the basis of reason and logical arguments.

            The arguments which will be used will be those proposed by traditional Christian Theists. There are several theistic arguments for the existence of God, the most familiar ones being: (1) the ontological argument (a priori argument), (2) the cosmological argument (first-cause argument), (3) the teleogical argument (design argument), (4) the moral argument, (5) the natural law argument.

            The two arguments chosen for exposition are the cosmological and teleological arguments.


The Cosmological Argument

            Cosmology is the branch of philosophy dealing with the origin and general structure of the universe. The cosmological argument is considered a posteriori argument because it is based upon some feature of the commonly experienced world. The research done suggests that this argument emphasizes two aspects: (1) the impossibility of infinite regress, and (2) the finitude of something implies an infinite cause.

            The impossibility of infinite regress. Thomas (1998) states that the basis for the cosmological argument is the observation of some particular feature of the universe such as motion or even the mere existence of any individual. The argument maintains that every event must have a cause, and that cause in turn, must have a cause, and so on. If there were no end to this backward progression of causes and effects, then their succession would be infinite. But an infinite series of causes and events (or infinite regress) is impossible and unintelligible. Therefore, there must be a first cause which is itself uncaused. This first-cause is called God. Therefore, God exists.

            The finitude of something. Klemke (1986) postulates that “the nerve of [cosmological] argument is as follows:

            Something exists and it is finite.

            The finite is not the cause of itself.

Neither can the finite in its whole or essential being be the effect of another finite entity.

Therefore the proper cause of this something is infinite, and this infinite being necessarily exists, and is God” (p. 247).

            The word finitude, meaning limitation, dependency, etc.) presupposes infinitude as the source of its limitation and the support of its dependency. The finitude of human beings and the universe must be explained, or else human beings and the universe are without any purpose. Klemke argues that limitation either argues purpose or is ultimately inexplicable. Retreating into inexplicability would be hazardous and would imply irrationality. Thus, we have no choice but to believe that there is a purpose. This purpose is the purpose of an unlimited, all-inclusive being who of necessity is prior to the limited, exclusive, and dependent. Such a being is God. Therefore, God exists.

The Teleological Argument

            Teleology is the doctrine that final causes exist. It is also the study of the evidences of design or purpose in nature. The teleological argument is also considered an a posteriori argument. It rests on the observation that the entire universe exhibits orderliness and purpose. Klemke (1986) states that many things or events occur in an orderly fashion, for example, the behavior of the planets in our solar system. Many other things are correlated with one another in a way that is purposeful. Among these there is an adaptation of means to ends, as in the intricate structure of the human eye. It is the purposiveness of organisms and of life itself which requires an explanation. They could not have come by accident or chance. They must be a result of some greater plan.

            This argument, Thomas (1998) maintains, is structured on the method of analogical reasoning. The analogy, he says, is this: the universes is like an orderly machine or clock, and as machine or clock has a machine maker or clock maker to explain its existence, so too must the universe have an author. This author is God. Therefore, God exists.

Who Is God?

            Since it has been established that God exists, the second question, “If so, what is the nature of that being? What are the attributes of God?” must be answered. This section will deal with conceptions of God from the Biblical and Christian Theism perspectives.

            Conceptions of God deal with His nature and attributes. One’s conception of God determines one’s relationship with Him and others; the value one places on self, on earthly endeavors, and on others; and how one’s life fits in the great scheme of God’s plan.

            God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush as “I am who I am.” This

denotes self-existence. God exists by a power inherent within Himself. He is the Alpha and Omega. He has no beginning and no end.

            He is the Ultimate Reality, the being perfect in wisdom, power, and goodness. He is the self-conscious unity of all reality. The universe is the content of His consciousness.

            God is an autonomous being. He possesses ontological self-sufficiency and creative genius. He is self-existent.

            God is eternal, immortal, and immutable. God is everlasting. The Bible says that God alone possesses immortality. Immortality is synonymous with unending existence, deathlessness, or incorruptibility. He alone possesses endless life inherently. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is unchangeable.

            God is the Creator. He is the source of life and existence. He created the universe. By virtue of His creative power, He is sovereign and ruler of the universe. His sovereignty implies that “nothing is beyond His ultimate interest, control, and authority.”

            God is transcendent or beyond us and our physical existence. Human beings cannot make physical contact with Him, yet can access Him through prayer.

            God is immanent. He is with us through His Holy Spirit, influencing and affecting our actions, affairs, and outcomes.

            God is good. He cares for us. His benevolence is displayed throughout His creation. He is also holy. He cannot bear any resemblance of evil, nor can evil exist in His presence.

            God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. God is all-powerful as demonstrated by His creative power and sovereignty. He is all-knowing, infinitely wise, and is in all places at the same time.

            God is a spirit and is holy. Although God is real, he is not present in material form and therefore not visible to human beings. God is absolutely spiritually pure, commanding adoration, worship, and praise from all creatures in the universe.

Definition of Terms

            God is infinite. This means that God is beyond scope, beyond measure. No other being in the universe can challenge Him in His nature. All else is secondary. He is alone the be-all and end-all of existence. He is the source of all life and existence.

            God is personal. God is not mere force or energy or existent substance. God is endowed with personality. He possesses self-reflection, self-determination, self-consciousness. He knows Himself to be. He thinks and acts. Because God is personal, human beings, made in the image of God, endowed also with personality, can relate to Him in a personal way.

            God is triune. This is a great mystery that cannot be fully explained and comprehended by finite minds. Within the one essence of the Godhead [“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4)] , there are three distinct “persons” who are neither three gods on the one side, not three parts or modes on the other. These three persons are coequally and coeternally God (Heb. 1:3, John 1:1-3; Gen. 1:1, 2 Cor. 3:14-18).

Why Do I Believe in a God I Cannot See - My Response to an Atheist

            I feel under no obligation to establish God’s existence to an atheist because God’s existence cannot be proven, neither be demonstrated for it is unsupported by reason, science, or logic. Neither can His existence be disproved. There is no philosophical argument that I can use to prove God’s existence, since serious flaws have been found in the traditional cosmological, ontological, and teleogical arguments. They argue that these arguments are emotive.

            Consider the first-cause or ontological argument. According to William James cited in Gardner (1983), there is nothing logically absurd about an infinite regress. An endless regress is absurd only to someone who finds it ugly or disturbing. According to James, the proof by first cause may be emotionally satisfying in its escape from the anxiety generated by an infinite regress, but clearly it is logically flawed.

            The teleogical argument has also been declared to be originating from a “strong emotional power.” That is, the emotion one feels when one considers the grandeur and majesty of nature. Emotion is not reason. James postulates that the teleogical argument has been weakened by evolution. He goes on to say that it is no longer possible to think of the wondrous structure of a human eye, or even the patterns of such lifeless things as galaxies and solar systems, as having histories analogous to the making of a watch.

            Speaking of the big bang theory, he posits that the argument that God had to fine-tune the fireball to create a cosmos capable of producing intelligent life is compelling only to those who shrink from contemplating an infinity of lifeless universes, who find it more comforting to suppose that a superior intelligence guided our big bang to form the universe as it did. He goes on to show that it is easy to turn the design proof upside down and argue that the chaos and evil in the world suggest the nonexistence of God.

            The ontological argument, it is argued, proves nothing, but it serves to deepen a believer’s understanding of God. James postulates that “In every proof I find an explicit or implicit emotional leap that springs from a desire or a fear or both, a leap that occurs at some point between the proof’s links. As fully rational arguments, instances of what Kant called pure reason, the proofs are invalid” (Gardner, 1983, p. 204). Yet my answer to the atheist will be based on purely emotive reasons.

            My belief in God’s existence is based on faith. The Bible gives no argument for God’s existence. It simply asserts that: “In the beginning God . . . ” Neither did Jesus try to defend God’s existence. God’s reality is taken for granted, never defended. According to Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain for what we do not see.” (NKJV). Now the question is this: What prompted me to make “this leap of faith” as Kierkegaard put it?

            Back in the late 1970's and early 1980's, I suffered from chronic depression caused by an undiagnosed severe hormonal imbalance, also because I was living conditions over which I felt had no control. I was angry. I even received shock therapy in 1979. This depression lasted for several years, during which time I was treated by a psychiatrist and then a psychologist. My illness manifested itself among other things by an obsession with death, anguish, and panic. As it is commonly known, young persons never think of their death as a reality. But this depression placed me in contact with my own mortality and finality. The thought that I could cease to exist became unbearable to me, and I turned to God for salvation although I was born into the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and had already been baptized at the age of 12. This was the moment of my leap of faith.

            As Stephens cited in Gardner (1983) points out, there is however, one fact about which both atheists and theists can agree. For many people, he continues, perhaps most people, there is a deep ineradicable desire not to cease to exist. Perhaps, this desire, this fear of falling into what Lord Dunsay once called the “unreverberate blackness of the abyss,” is no more than an expression of genetic mechanisms for avoiding death. Or is it more? He goes on to say, “it is easy to understand why any person would think death final–everything in our experience indicates it–but I share with Unamuno a vast incredulity when I meet individuals, seemingly well adjusted, who solemnly assure me they have absolutely no desire to live again. He asks the question:” Do they really mean it? Or are they wearing a mask which they suppose fashionable while deep inside their hearts, in the middle of the night and in moments of agony, they secretly hope to be surprised some day by the existence and mercy of God?”

            Faith, I agree, is an expression of feeling, of emotion, not of reason. But, does this lower faith? Stephens, says no. “Emotion more than reason, certainly as much as reason, distinguishes us from the beasts.” And he quotes Unamuno who said: ‘More often I have seen a cat reason, than laugh or weep. Yes, I have watched my desk calculator reason more often than laugh or weep” (p. 213).

            I made this leap of faith back in the 1980's because I had reached rock bottom. I was in despair and I needed God to escape from my unbearable anguish. I posited God because I needed Him in order to live. Without Him I would have surely sunk into the abyss and lost my sanity or die.

            There are moments in life, when reason alone is not sufficient. One must rely on one’s heart to decide. I agree with William James when he says: “When we are confronted with live options, and when there are insufficient grounds for deciding rationally, we have no other way to decide except emotionally” (p. 218). Who can deny, Stephens affirms, that when a momentous decision is thrust upon us, and the head cannot decide, the heart must take over? There is nothing irrational or absurd about letting the heart take over. It saved my life and gave me a purpose for living. As James says: “Belief in God and immortality are unsupported by logic or science, but because they are live options we cannot avoid an emotional decision” (p. 219).

            I, then say like James and Unamuno that I have no basis whatever for my belief in God other than a passionate longing that God exists and that I and others will not cease to exist. Because I believe with my heart that God upholds all things, it follows that I believe that my leap of faith, in a way beyond my comprehension, is God outside of me asking and wanting me to believe, and God within me responding. This has been said a thousand of times before by theists. Let us listen to how Unamuno says it:

Wishing that God may exist, and acting and feeling as if He did exist. And desiring God’s existence and acting conformably with this desire, is the means whereby we create God–that is, whereby God creates Himself in us, manifests Himself to us, opens and reveals Himself to us. For God goes out to meet him who seeks with love and by love, and hides Himself from him who searches for Him with the cold and loveless reason. God wills that the heart should have rest, but not the head, reversing the order of the physical life in which the head sleeps and rests at time while the heart wakes and works unceasingly. And thus knowledge without love leads us away from God; and love, even without knowledge, and perhaps better without it, leads us to God, and though God to wisdom. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (p. 222)!

            This is enough. No more can be said, except that I have the right to believe!









The Nature of Human Beings

            The purpose of this essay is to distinguish human beings being from animals. However, the writer, being sensitive to gender bias terms, will use terms such as people, humanity, human beings, humankind, human species instead of man. The writer takes such an approach because history has shown that women have been considered physically, mentally, spiritually, and professionally, etc. less than men. Indeed, when women are referred to in literature, they are usually placed together with the imbeciles and dumb animals. From whence come all kinds of abuses perpetrated against women.

            This essay is seen as an opportunity to establish that men and women are special and are of a higher nature and order than dumb animals, and have essentially the same human nature, although having different gender. Thus, all arguments presented in this essay are applicable to men and women.

            The main questions are: What are human beings? Are they animals? The writer refutes the commonly accepted belief that human beings are just animals of a higher order. For sure, says Klemke (1986), there are many animals which are stronger than human beings are; viruses are more fertile, cockroaches more highly adapted, stones more durable, and so on. But these characteristics do not make them superior to human beings. So what differentiates people from animals? What makes human beings superior creatures? The writer proposes six dimensions that set humanity apart from and above the animal kingdom: (1) the personal dimension, (2) the spiritual dimension, (3) the mental dimension, (4) the social dimension, and (5) the moral dimension, and (6) the physical dimension.

The Personal Dimension

            Humankind did not spring out of nature by some natural evolutionary process, for according to Genesis, the creation of human beings is attributed directly to God. Men and women were created and formed by Him (Gen. 1:27; 2:78). Because human beings were made in the image of God, they possess personality akin to the Creator.

            James Sire reminds us that personality has two basic characteristics: self-reflection and self-determination God displays both these characteristics. God is self-conscious. He knows Himself to be. He thinks and He acts.

            That people are made in the image of God means they are like God. Human beings are personal because God is personal. Because God is self-conscious, they are self-conscious. They know themselves to be, and they make decisions uncoerced. They possess self-determination. They act according to their own character and their own nature.

            God is transcendent, therefore human beings exhibit transcendence. They dominate their environment. Human beings are unique, display unique identities, and behave in unique ways.

            Only human beings and God display emotion. They can express sadness, love, anger, etc. As Unamuno put it: “More often I have seen a cat reason, than laugh or weep. Yes, and I have watched my desk calculator reason more often than laugh or weep” (Gardner, 1983, p. 213).

The Spiritual Dimension

            According to Dr. Jack J. Blanco, men and women were created with a spiritual dimension akin to the Creator. They were called to be holy as He is holy. The term spirituality means holiness, holy living, godliness, walking with God, discipleship. They emphasize commitment and a deepening relationship with God and Jesus Christ guided by Scripture. This relationship with God is demonstrated in reverence and praise in the act of worship. Human beings reach out to something infinitely greater and better than themselves, in their conscience, and their capacity for worship.

            J. M. Houston states that, “True spirituality engenders fellowship, the communion of the saints, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. It means godliness and spiritual friendship reflected in the horizontal as well as the vertical dimension of existence. It means the embodiment of the love of God in the human for Him and for others. (J. M Houston, Spirituality,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, pp. 1046-1050).

            Human beings have a conscience that can be influenced by the prompting of the Holy Spirit and that leads them to do what is right. They develop a moral code, values, and principles by which to live.

            Human beings have an eternal destiny with God. They alone are candidates to immortality.



The Mental Dimension

            Human beings have an amazing mental life and are distinct from other creatures. They are the only beings created with the ability to think, to reason, to reach decisions, to make choices and take action. Humans have consciousness, thought, and appreciation. They think in abstract symbols, consciously set goals, make plan to reach, initiate work to carry them out, and find joy and satisfaction in their accomplishments. They have skills and have knowledge. They alone can appreciate the aesthetic beauty of nature and the arts.

            Humans are educable. Animals are dumb and stupid creatures that function by instinct and are not educable. Park cited in Thomas (1998) states: “Man is the only educable human being, the horse, the dog, and the lower creatures are trained, not educated. Apparently the lower creature frames to itself no goal to be reached, no intellectual or moral ends to be attained, no development to be secured. There is inherited instinct but not conceptual reasoning.”

            He goes to say that “Man is the only educable being because only he has a sufficient measure of self-activity to attain by effort rational ends self-consciously conceived. Man therefore is the only fit subject for education. The self-activity of man conditioning his education is the clearest expression in the limits of time of the immanent and transcendent self-activity of reality.”

The Social Dimension

            Humans were created for companionship. According to Dr. Blanco, “the expression, ‘It is not good that man should be alone’ (Gen 2:18) included all human beings, not just Adam. While the context of Genesis 2:18 is Creation Week and the relationship of a man and a woman as husband and wife, the principle found in this verse applies to all human beings, regardless of their status (Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, the Nature of Man. April to June, 1999, p. 22).

            God did not create human beings to be alone and certainly not to ever feel lonely. He created us for companionship either through the marriage relationship, family, friendships, or all three. Human beings find happiness in giving and joy in loving and being loved.

The Moral Dimension

            Human beings were created to reflect God’s ethical and moral nature. Human beings have a God-given moral sense to determine right and wrong, and a conscience to prick them when they stray. Human beings have a sense of accountability as well as free choice. The totality of their response to this awareness of accountability, constitutes their character, and indicates the extent to which they are moral responsible individuals.

            Character building is thus one of the most important goals of education and religion.

The Physical Dimension

            Human beings are the only creatures formed or molded by the hands of God according to a preconceived design. Then God breathed life into this clay model of Adam, and he became a living being. (Gen. 2:7). Imagine for a moment, says Dr. Blanco, the awesome sight of the Creator God working the wet clay with His hands, and then with His mouth, breathing His life into Adam’s nostrils. What an amazing sight!

            The molding of Adam and Eve implies a personal and intimate involvement of God with His creation. It implies, love, care, and solicitude. What a loving God we serve! Human beings are the only creatures who stand erect and who possess manual dexterity.

            These six dimensions prove that human beings are not animals and that they should not be classified in the animal kingdom. Rather they should be in the kingdom humanity, as C. J. Thomas stated.

Definition of Terms

            God created the cosmos ex nihilo. God created the entire universe out of nothing. He spoke the universe into existence. The universe came into being by His word. Mrs. White states that: “The creative energy that called the world into existence is the world of God.” The universe was not created out of Himself or some preexistent chaos. If the cosmos was preexistent, it would be as eternal as God.

            God created the cosmos as a uniformity of natural causes in an open system. This means that the cosmos shows order and purpose. It was not created to be chaotic. The universe exhibits orderliness and regularity and reflects God’s character. We can expect the sun to rise every day.

            The system is open. The system is not programmed or predetermined. God is constantly involved in the unfolding pattern of the ongoing operation of the universe. The course of the world’s operation is open to reordering by God or man. The world was dramatically reordered in the Fall and is continually being reordered as human beings effect changes in the environment.


Scientific Principles that Lend Support to the Theory of Creation

            The two scientific principles that lend support to the theory of creation are the conservation of mass energy and increasing entropy. Both principles belong to the law of thermodynamics. Thermodynamics is the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy or work, and the conversion of one into the other.

             The first law of thermodynamics--the conservation of mass energy–supports the idea that nothing is being created or annihilated in the present order of things. The second law of thermodynamcis–increasing entropy–is essentially a confirmation of the universal lay of decay and death in accordance with the Biblical version of the doctrine of creation. Entropy is the tendency toward disorder and randomness. This means that there is a tendency from the highly organized downward toward the less organized. Never is there an increase of order without an outside force. Evolution is thus a contradiction of increasing entropy–proceeding from chaos, disorder and randomness to orderliness, from nothing to something and from ignorance to intelligence.

Comparison of the Approach of Adventist Scientists and Worldly Scientists

Points of Agreement

            The Adventist and worldly scientists agree that there are developmental patterns in plant and animal life.

            Adventist and worldly scientists adhere strictly to the laws of evidence as they proceed with their search into the ways of nature.



Points of Disagreement

            Adventist and worldly scientists disagree on the theory of origin. Adventist scientists believe in the doctrine of special creation, while worldly scientists believe in the theory of evolution.

            Furthermore, Adventist scientists are impelled by humane, professional, and religious motives as they pursue their discipline. Worldly scientists have no such concerns.

            Natural law to Adventist scientists is a reflection of the divine law and, in a limited sense, an indication of what God is.

            Adventist and worldly scientists have different motives for pursuing their study. The assumption which led to the formulation of their hypothesis or the theory by which their data are interpreted may be also fundamentally different.

What Do the Fossil Records Indicate?

            Fossils are remnant, impression or trace of an animal or plant of a post geological age that has been preserved into the earth’s crust.

            If evolution were a fact, the fossil evidence would reveal a gradual changing from one kind of life into another, and would have to be the case regardless of which variation of the evolutionary theory is accepted. Also, if evolution were founded in fact, the fossil record would be expected to reveal beginnings of new structures in living things. There should be at least some fossils with developing arms, legs, wings, eyes, and other bones and organs.

            If living things were created the fossil records would not show one type of life turning into another. They would reflect the Genesis statement that each different types of living things would reproduce only according to its kind (Gen. 1:11). Also, if living things came into being by an act of creation. There would be no partial, unfinished bones or organs in the fossil record. All fossils would be complete and highly complex, as living things are today.



A Comparison Between What Evolution Predicted and What Creation Predicted in Fossil Record

Prediction of Evolution Model Predictions of Creation Model Facts as Found in the Real Word
Life evolved from non-life by chance chemical evolution (spontaneous generation). Life comes from previous life; originally created by an intelligent Creator.

1.  Life comes only from previous life.

2.  No way to form complex genetic code by chance.

Fossils should show:

1.  Simple life forms originating gradually;

2.  Transitional forms linking previous ones.

Fossils should show:

1.  Complex forms suddenly appearing in great variety;

2.  Gaps separating major kinds; no linking forms.

Fossils show:

1.  Sudden appearance of complex life in great variety;

2.  Each new kind separate from previous kinds; no linking forms.

New kinds arising gradually; beginnings of incomplete bones and organs in various transitional stages. No new kinds gradually appearing; no incomplete bones or organs, but all parts completely formed. No new kinds gradually appearing, although many varieties; no incompletely formed bones or organs.




The Significance of Eintein’s Theory

            Einstein’s famous theory E=MC2 is a valid argument in favor of the doctrine of special creation. This formula states that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. In essence, the formula states that matter can be produced from energy just as tremendous energy can be produced from matter. The atomic bomb proves the latter and the act of creation is proof of the former. This formula supports the idea that God is a source of limitless energy. It demonstrates the omnipotence of God, and it represents the most awesome transformation of energy into matter that this world will ever see. This formula implies that a source of limitless energy would have the raw material to create the substance of the universe

            This view is supported by Scripture. Psalms 33:6: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” This view is supported by Ellen G. White who states: “The creative energy that called the world into existence is the Word of God. This word implies power: It begets life” (p. 126). It was the Word of God that provided the creative energy that brought the world into existence out of nothing.


            It is the production of a new individual from an existing one through an asexual process. Genetic material from the first individual is used to create a new one that has the same genetic makeup as the original.

            The potential cloning of human beings has raised many issues and concerns in recent times. Some of these issues have been expressed as noted below:

            1. The concern of justice. This concern is related to the reproductive technologies which allow childless couples to reproduce artificially. The United Church of Christ Committee on Genetics expressed its concerns in these words: “When the world groans with hunger, when children are stunted from chronic malnutrition, when people die of famine by the thousands every day–when this is the reality of the world in which we live, the development of any more technologies to suit the desires of those who are relatively privileged, secure, and comfortable seems to fly in the face of fundamental claims of justice. For this reason, in spite of our empathy with couples who might seek cloning in order to have children “of their own,” we oppose cloning and say “enough” to technologies that are privileges of the rich in the Western world.”

            2. Individuality and uniqueness. Would a clone be considered a full human being created in the image of God and entitled to all human and civil rights?

            3. The legal concerns. How would society deal with property rights and inheritance with clones?

            4. Safety concerns. The current state of technique of nuclear transfer cloning is far too imprecise to meet minimal expectations of safety that should be met before they are applied to human beings. In discussing the sheep work, it was indicated that it took 277 attempts until success was achieved. A question arises as to what happens to the results of those unsuccessful attempts.

            5. Psychological harm to the child. The United Church of Christ Committee on Genetics raised this concern. It is possible that a child produced by cloning would suffer from an overwhelming burden of expectations. Anyone wanting to create such a child would have a prior knowledge of what this child’s genes could become and would in part make the decision to clone on the basis of that knowledge. That prior knowledge could create a weight of expectation against which such a child would have to define his or her own identity. Precisely because “genetic determinism” is so widespread in contemporary culture, this weight of expectation would likely be inconsistent with the freedom necessary for each person to develop an individual identity.

            6. Genetic Makeup. Many observers believe that it is beneficial for children to have the genetic resources of two adults that are recombined to form a genotype that is unique and yet tied genetically to both adults. This assures that in terms of nuclear DNA, the child is related to both adults yet different from either. If children were produced by nuclear transfer cloning, their nuclear DNA would not have this relatedness and this difference.

            7. Human embryo research. Whether such research is permissible ultimately raises the question of the theological and moral status of the human pre-embryo. The human embryo, it is believed, in due great respect, consistent with its potential to develop into full human personhood.

            The eighth concern was expressed by the Jewish community.

            8. Procreation integrity. Cloning interferes with the process of procreation itself. The normal sequence of egg and sperm uniting and forming a new life is abolished and the egg becomes a vehicle for the “parasitic” parental DNA. Basically, sexual reproduction is replaced by a new version of parthenogenesis.

            9. Cloning is playing God. Dr. Richard Seed said of human cloning earlier this year: “God made man in his own image. God intended for man to become one with God. Cloning and the reprogramming of DNA are the first serious steps in becoming one with God.” Guardian, 2 December 1998.

            10. Cloning of non-humans. Other concerns are raised regarding cloning of non-human mammalian species. The United Church of Christ Committee on Genetics stated that: “We are concerned that the use of nuclear transfer of cloning, together with other genetic and reproductive technologies, will contribute to a diminished regard for hon-human species. In particular, we lament the attitude that hon-human species have no inherent dignity or significance beyond their usefulness to human beings.

            11. Larger issue. Max Stackhouse, an ordained United Church of Christ minister who teaches Christian ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary says: “The larger issue is, should humans have control over the totality of their own destiny, and whether for religious, theological, or moral reasons there should be limits?”



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