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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Are Intellectuals dangerous; is all philosophy vain?

If a person has an IQ of, say, 180, they will be comfortable wrestling with the logic of concepts well suited to their capacity. On the other hand if a person has an IQ of, say 100, then they will only be able to comfortably handle ideas and concepts in a basically average way.

It is a completely responsible thing for the person with the 180 IQ to entertain and consider the ideas and concepts well within their grasp. It would actually be irresponsible for them not to. But the person with the 100 IQ cannot deal with those exact same ideas responsibly. As a population, we vary considerably in our capacity.

The problem of intellectualism does not arise until you get the highly intelligent person demanding that the average person agree with them. "Intellectualism" is for intellectuals only; they can deal with these things and they indeed MUST do so without silencing their peers of opposing opinions. But intellectuals of every and any opinion, persuasion or philosophy are violating others when they demand of them conformity and loyalty to their ideas.

How can a preacher demand of you that you forsake the philosophy of Jacques Derrida or Karl Marx, for example. If their philosophies are notions you cannot make heads or tails of? In honesty you should be allowed to decide for yourself what you will do with those notions. The intellectual must be free to express what it is they can and cannot accept but they can only offer it for your consideration. The intellectual must save the arguing and stronger language in discussions with their peers. It is not a fair fight if one shows up with an assault rifle and the other shows up with a pea shooter; and this is true without regard to which side of the argument might be "correct."

If there is an idea you cannot understand, then the only honest position you can take is, "I don't know what to think about that idea." You really have no choice but to move on and ponder possibilities until you can take personal responsibility for how it settles in you. And if some intellectual comes along warning you that you will be taken astray into doctrines of demons, you have no way of knowing if I that intellectual is the one actually manipulating you.

As I understand it, not all philosophy is vain, but philosophy becomes vain when it is forced upon others by an intellectual who knows full well that they are forcing these ideas on people incapable of appreciating the implications and the strengths and weaknesses of the ideas. This is also true when the person forcing the ideas is merely repeating the party line they have already bought into. When someone shares an idea inside their area of expertise but outside your area of expertise -- that is fully acceptable. But if they demand from you compliance and agreement to notions beyond your own area of expertise, then they are trying to make you fear the consequences while also presenting themselves to you in a vain manner where what they really want you to do is think to yourself, "WOW, that guy is one smart dude." This is  the essence of "vain philosophy."

We all need to be a bit more honest about what we do and do not grasp. We cannot save the world by using only those ideas intellectuals understand because we cannot in honesty all get on board. Nor can we save the world by telling the intellectual to shut up and leave us alone. Let us not in pour pursuit of a spiritual foundation get in a battle against the intellectual.

Love IS the answer for everyone, respect is the default mode for those who are different in capacity and opinion. We can leave the wonderful questions to those well able to ask and answer them. But we have nothing to fear from the intellectual until they actually arrive with demands.


  1. Let me give you an example from my own experience. When I was 13 I questioned the teaching of the trinity that I had just been given - which seemed to me to be 'rubbish'. Years later I asked my parish priest - an Anglican theologian if he could explain the trinity. His reply was along the lines of, "greater minds than mine have wrestled with that for centuries, and I have to accept what they have taught". The irony of that was that a couple of years later he was appointed a Bishop and subsequently the first Archbishop of the Indian Ocean - and he couldn't explain the trinity.

    I became disillusioned with the Anglican Church and years later became a member of the Worldwide Church of God - a Sabbath keeping church that rejected the teaching of the trinity. In 1995 that church announced that much of its theology had been misguided. The 'remnant' of that church now openly teach 'trinitarianism' based on the writing of deep theologians like the Torrence brothers. This really started around 2007 at about the same time as 'The Shack' was first published privately (just 11,000 copies). After reading 'The Shack' for the second time and really living that weekend with Mack, the thought went through my mind, "Why has it taken 57 years for someone to give me a picture of the trinity that really begins to make sense.

    When I tried to express my feelings to the pastor who was trying to get me to read the books by Torrence and others, he simply told me that he thought 'The Shack' was 'rubbish'.

    That view apparently never changed even after the interviews that appeared on the church website with Paul Young - the author of the book.

    1. Thanks for you comments. I loved that book.