Today we’re taking another close look at a statement from The Octavius of Minucius Felix. This writing comes from 160-250A.D. and includes a long section of objections to Christianity from a man named Caecilius. He says:
Nor without reason; since the mediocrity of human intelligence is so far from (the capacity of) divine investigation, that neither is it given us to know, nor is it permitted to search, nor is it religious to ravish, the things that are supported in suspense in the heaven above us, nor the things which are deeply submerged below the earth; and we may rightly seem sufficiently happy and sufficiently prudent, if, according to that ancient oracle of the sage, we should know ourselves intimately. But even if we indulge in a senseless and useless labour, and wander away beyond the limits proper to our humility, and though, inclined towards the earth, we transcend with daring ambition heaven itself, and the very stars, let us at least not entangle this error with vain and fearful opinions [like religious beliefs].
What is the claim here?
Here the core claim is something like this:
Human intelligence is insufficient to understand great religious truths.
An implication of this statement is that:
It is senseless and useless to think about religious issues.
How should we evaluate these claims? First, we need to notice that Caecilius is making sweeping claims about how we cannot know much about supernatural reality. He is claiming a privileged position of knowing about things and then using this vantage point to claim that others do not know much about these kinds of things. Do you see the self-contradiction?
However, there is something to his point. Surely if there is a God, someone all-knowing and all-powerful, then that Being would be able to elude my best attempts to find him or her or them, if he/she/they wanted to do so. The only hope we would have in knowing God is if God chooses to reveal divine truth to us. The question then becomes: is there a credible revelation from God in human history?