I remember the day as though it were last Saturday. I was in elementary school, growing up in Houston, Texas. It was late one summer afternoon, the sun was setting and the stars were just becoming visible. A cool breeze was blowing its hint of fall to come. I got off my bike, laid back in the cool St. Augustine grass of a neighbor’s lawn, folded my hands behind my head, and looked up into the sky.
And the question occurred to me for the very first time: Where did this universe come from? Soon other questions grew from that one: is this all there is? Is there a world outside this world? How can the world go on forever? Did God make all this? Who or what made God? Who or what made whoever or whatever made God? And on and on, as the twilight became night and my parents wondered where I was. On that neighbor’s lawn I did my first philosophy.
In just this way the first philosophers did their first philosophy, too. Six centuries before the time of Christ, men living on the western coast of what is Turkey today began asking the same questions I asked in Houston, Texas. And coming up with radical answers, ideas never before recorded in human culture. These ideas made them the first philosophers. But not the last.
Our entire cultural history is different because they thought differently. You and I are the direct heirs of their ways of looking at the world. Everything about our faith, our ministries, and our lives has been affected by the day the first philosopher folded his hands behind his head and began to think.
Let’s see how that event happened, and why it matters so much.