A Socratic Dialogue

July 9th, 2011 by BEBlogger

A friend of mine and I were talking recently about the “Socratic Dialogues” so famously part of Greek philosophical thought.  I got to thinking:  If Socrates were a Christian, perhaps he would engage in a dialogue along the lines of the one below, concerning the veracity of Scripture and the limitations of reason.

Infidelus:  “You are a Christian, are you not Doulos?”

Doulos:  “Indeed I am, Infidelus.”

Infidelus:  So, do you believe the Bible is the word of God, and therefore true in all it contains?”

Doulos:  Yes Infidelus; properly understood, the Bible is the Word of God and is true in all it affirms.”

Infidelus:  “But isn’t the Bible full of errors?”

Doulos:  “Do you imply that since the Bible is flawed, one should not trust it, nor rely on it as an infallible guide?”

Infidelus:  “Yes, that is my contention.”

Doulos:  “I don’t think you’ve pursued this line of reasoning sufficiently, Infidelus.”

Infidelus:  “Why not Doulos?”

Doulos:  “Let us begin with your premise, ‘The Bible is full of errors and is therefore untrustworthy.’  I will assume for the sake of argument that this is true.”

Infidelus:  “It seems logical to start this way, Doulos.”

Doulos:  “Do you know everything, Infidelus?”

Infidelus:  “Of course not, Doulos.”

Doulos:  “And is it not possible – yea certain – that you have made errors in asserting facts, confirming faulty deductions, arriving at false conclusions, calculating mathematical problems, and following courses of action that later betrayed an error in judgment?”

Infidelus:  “Yes, honesty compels me to admit my many errors in these regards.”

Doulos:  “And in your errors, have you ever led others astray, advising them in matters wherein later it was revealed that you were mistaken in your counsel?”

Infidelus:  “Yes Doulos, I regret to say I have led others astray through faulty counsel.”

Doulos:  “And isn’t it certain as well, that you believe many things now that later would be found to be false with the discovery of additional facts and evidence?”

Infidelus:  “Without question this is true, Doulos.”

Doulos:  “If then, Infidelus, you have erred, admit your errors, frankly concede your lack of perfection in your reasoning powers, and admit having led others astray, why then should I trust anything you say?”

Infidelus:  “Well, because…I hadn’t thought of that.”

Doulos:  “That is self-evident Infidelus.”

Infidelus:  “But let us start with reason.  If we start with the premise –

Doulos:  “Forgive me for interrupting Infidelus, but you cannot so proceed.

Infidelus:  “And why not, Doulos?”

Doulos:  “Because you’ve all ready conceded that you are flawed in your powers of reason.  Therefore we can conclude that your reason is unreliable.  Using reason to prove reason amounts to establishing the validity of reason by using the admittedly flawed instrument of the same.”

Infidelus:  “I hadn’t thought of that either.”

Doulos:  “Therefore, if you are prone to imperfection and error, why should I assume that what you say about the Bible is correct?  Isn’t it possible that when you say ‘The Bible is full of errors and is therefore untrustworthy,’ that you err when you say so, and I am within my epistemic rights to reject your assertion?”

Infidelus:  “I see your point Doulos.  Clearly I must think this through more thoroughly.”

Doulos:  “Indeed, Infidelus.”