Philosophy is regarded by many as the most important field of study. Indeed, in the time of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, philosophical debate was taken up everywhere, and was applied to morality, religion, science, and virtually every aspect of life. Theologians are exhorted to study philosophy, but the lay Catholic can benefit just as much. Here’s 5 good reasons to take up a study in philosophy.
1. To Combat Atheism
Atheism is not merely to believe God does not exist, but rather maintains that one can know that there is no God. The distinction drawn is that one can be agnostic and still choose to believe or not, but an atheist has made a firm commitment. As such, atheism has recently pushed itself into the mainstream, through a vocal minority in the scientific community as well as within the media and even courthouse lawns. To maintain our Christian identity is not enough to quote Scripture or encyclicals, but rather we must meet the atheist on his own ground, starting with philosophy and engage them there.
I recommend: Feser – The Last Superstition
2. To Combat The Problem of Evil
No greater problem poses the inner life of faith than that of evil and suffering. Sins and temptations come and go, but the suffering they leave behind lingers like a dull ache or worse. Understanding what suffering truly is, what pain really means, and how we experience our existence can help us maintain our faith through the most difficult times. The problem of evil and suffering is one of the oldest arguments against the existence of God and the one many find most compelling, but it need not be so.
I recommend: Lewis – The Problem of Pain
3. To Combat Protestant Absurdities
How does Sola Scriptura play out if taken to its logical conclusion? Does the Bible have to support Sola Scriptura in order for it to be true? Without a proper understanding of philosophy and logic, Protestantism can only be combatted as a faith claim, but after one grasps logic, Protestantism becomes even more difficult to defend. For this reason philosophy and be instructive in our evangelization and also in our apologetics, strengthening our faith, and being a light unto the world.
I recommend: Rose – The Protestant’s Dilemma
4. To Combat Scientism and Materialism
More and more people are looking to their faith in science to understand progress, but can science really account for the notion of progress without an ideal to be maintained? Questions like these can only be answered once one grasps scholastic metaphysics, and then can wrestle with those who accuse reality of being strictly material or in some cases even strictly immaterial. How does a materialist reconcile the fact that there seem to be species, causes, and concepts?
I recommend: Feser – Scholastic Metaphysics
5. To Better Understand the Catholic Faith
While many Protestants criticize the Catholic Faith for being too mystical and leaving too much to mystery, the Eastern Orthodox often accuse the Catholic Faith of being too systematic, rational, and not leaving enough mystery. Could it be that Catholicism has struck the balance between the mystical and the rational? Fides et Ratio, Faith and Reason can not only help us to understand the intricacies of the faith, but give us a deeper appreciation for our liturgy as well.
I recommend: Egan – Philosophy and Catholic Theology: A Primer
But if you’re seriously considering studying philosophy, I got my advanced degree from Holy Apostles College and Seminary (website currently under renovation) and always look for an opportunity to tell people about my experience there. The philosophy program is the top choice of some of the leading Catholic thinkers from physicists to teachers, and evangelists in between. At HACS you can study under names like Kucer, DeMarco, Chervin, Mullady, Redpath, and so many more. I highly encourage you to learn more about them in this quick video: