Socrates who is known as “The father of philosophy” believed in the existence of only one God. He taught against the pantheistic worships practiced by the Athenians. No doubt, this teaching was the major cause for his death. However, through his intellect, he came to know and said that in order to know about the God and have communication with the God, we need a mediator. I believe this is the point beyond which a human mind cannot go. Humans are created by God and He knows the human limits. So this is the point where God intervenes by giving Prophets and finally Jesus Christ to mediate between man and God and fulfill His plan of salvation. Unfortunately this was not known to Socrates as God was preparing the Jews for the implementation of His plan of salvation. May God have mercy on them!
Nevertheless, we cannot undermine the works of Socrates his student Plato, and Aristotle, even from the Biblical theological point of view. Saint Thomas of Aquinas, who was widely known as a Scholastic Philosopher, was greatly influenced by the writing of Aristotle and also read the writings of Socrates and Plato, and he even translated the Greek writings of Socrates and Plato into English. He wrote a great theological discourse called the Summa Theologiae, and Summa Contra Gentiles, in which he incorporated t the great philosophers’ way of reasoning. The consequence of St. Thomas’ writing greatly contributed to the “Great Renaissance” of the 16th Century.
St. Thomas, as a Christian, agrees that humans are totally depraved, but he added, “Yet the intellect is not affected.” What he means to say here is that, though we are spiritually death and metaphysically finite and we cannot do anything for our salvation, we can come to know God intellectually and initiate communicating with God for His grace and work out for our salvation. This statement became the foundation for the Roman Catholic’s strategy of evangelism. They go in the name of God and educate man first, and then teach God. What a success in evangelism as well as in the field of education all over the world! Socrates and Plato should be equally credited for the Roman Catholic’s success of evangelism and propagation of education.
David L Shimray
M.A Ch. Education (USA)
M.A Philosophy (USA)