33The Newman GuideHere is one of the clearest criteria for choosingor judging a college: you can be almost certainthat any college that has dropped philosophyand theology from its core curriculum is notserious about a liberal arts education. And in
my experience I nd that this is true of many
of the colleges in America.This raises two questions: (1) What arephilosophy and theology, and why are theycrucial to a young person’s education today?(2) Aren’t they outdated, impractical, abstract,
irrelevant, elitist, superuous and even dan
-gerous to faith and sanity?
“Philosophy” means “the love of wisdom.”Wisdom is the knowledge of ultimate causes,explanations and principles. It includesknowledge of values, not just facts. It givesyou a “big picture,” a “world-view” and a“life-view.” It explores such questions asthese: What is the essence of a human being?What is the meaning (value, goal, purpose)of human life? What is a good life? What isa good society? Are there higher laws thanman’s laws? Are we here by chance or design?Are we fated or free? How do we know whatis good or evil? How do we know anything?Is anything certain? Can reason prove (or dis-prove) the existence of God? Why do we suf-
fer? Why do we die? Is there life aer death?
Anyone who is simply not
inthese questions is less than fully human, lessthan fully reasonable. Reasonable persons,even if skeptical about the possibility of an-swering them, will not dismiss them as unan-swerable without looking (that is not reason but prejudice) but will examine the claimsof philosophers to have given reasonable an-
swers to these questions before seling into a
comfortable, fashionable skepticism.Theology comes in two forms, philo-sophical and religious. Philosophical theol-ogy (“natural theology”) is a subdivision ofphilosophy. It uses natural human reason toexplore the greatest of all questions, the ques-tions about God. Religious theology (or “re-vealed theology”) is a rational exploration ofthe meaning and consequences of faith in arevealed religion—in our case, the “depositof faith” or “Sacred Tradition” of the Catho-lic Church which comes from Christ and Hisapostles, and the scriptures they wrote.In most Catholic universities today, Sa-cred Tradition is no longer sacred. It is treatedas something to be “dissented” from (“diss”
is the rst part of “dissent”), as an enemy to
enlightenment, progress, maturity and lib-eration, or at least as an embarrassment to be“tweaked,” “nuanced” or “massaged” rather
than as a gi to be gratefully, faithfully and
lovingly explored.Most Catholic universities today havephilosophy departments that are excellentspiritually as well as academically, but havedeeply compromised theology departments.
Their eect on students is much more oen
to weaken their faith than to strengthen it,not only in controversial moral issues such asabortion, contraception, cloning, euthanasiaand sexual morality, but even in fundamen-tal doctrines such as Christ’s divinity andresurrection and the historical truth of the
Why Study Philosophy and Theology?
Dr. Peter Kree
Dr. Kree is a well-respected Catholic apologist and since 1965 has served as professor of philosophyat Boston College. He is the author of more than 50 books on philosophy, theology and apologetics.