To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe. – Marilyn vos Savant

"Plato believed love is a rational choice. He claimed to love based on the form of beauty inside someone. Conversely, the French philosopher Michael de Montaigne expressed his belief that love was irrational and should not be bound by any reason or constant."

Silas bent over his philosophy book, chocolate eyes staring at each word his professor spoke. His square jaw rested on his forearm.

"As you know, Plato was the most renowned follower of Socrates, who believed in objectivism. To him, beauty was a matter of fact rather than dependent on the way one saw it. Had someone said to him that mountains were distasteful and ugly, he would have disagreed."

Silas listened attentively to everything. Every deliberation was processed and either stored or discarded in his mind. Eyes penetrated his dark head, drawing a flush to his ashen cheeks. He shifted his eyes to the girl beside him, then darted them back.

"David Hume believed in subjectivism. He knew that beauty was relative, meaning it varied from person to person. Everyone was born with a clean slate according to him, and would then acquire knowledge and experience through the five senses. That's what he believed would make a person and their foundation."

"Hume was erroneous," Silas said, tone cold and deep as river rocks. All eyes had turned to him and he knew it.

"Whatever, Brain," called Martel with a derided snicker. "What makes you think everyone has a universal view of what beauty is, or such things as good and evil?"

"Because of absolute truth," Silas returned, taciturn. "Beauty is anything created by the living God, but human perceptions only perceive certain varieties."

"You believe that an almighty God created everything as a fact?"

"Yes. I believe in objectivism."

A murmur rippled throughout the classroom. Some uttered hums of agreement while others snorted with disrespect and disagreement.

"Doesn't everyone here agree that kindness is a universal good?" Quinn asked as he glanced over each shoulder.

"That's because of our culture," Anne countered. "We were raised to believe in specific principles, kindness being among them."

"That's not true," Silas replied. "There is an innate desire to do right. It's strong enough to even override fear, our primal emotion."

He could feel the eyes on him. The navy carpet drew his eyes to the floor like a magnet. Irritation burned within him.

"How?" someone challenged.

"You jump in front of a bus to save someone," he explained. "May be so scared you don't want to, but you do."

"There are still cowards out there," Martel reminded him.

"Obviously," Aimee snapped. "There are still flaws in the human race."

"By the fault of your God."

"No. Because we chose to sin and separated ourselves from God; perfection."

Silas' last sentence caused a hush to sweep over the class. Professor Hawkins stared at him with a studious eye.

"You are a straight A student, Morgan. I would have expected someone as intelligent as you to have forsaken such ideas as Creationism."

Silas eyed him keenly, but remained resolutely silent. The eyes of his peers unsettled him slightly, but he released his breath and attempted to maintain his composure. He suppressed the urge to order them to mind their own business.

"Yeah, Morgan, your usual silence makes you look much smarter."

"As if your insults are adding to your credibility," Aimee returned.

"Mind your own business!"

"Shut up," Silas ordered. "We should debate."

Hawkins raised his pale eyes and glanced around the classroom. "Who is in favor of the idea of an informal philosophical debate?"

"I thought that's what we were doing," Aimee sounded bewildered.

"Then let's continue," Silas told her.

"All right," said Spencer. "But who could know what the rules are without creating them themselves?"

"Because we do have someone who creates the laws- that is God, who creates the laws within His own character because He is perfect," Quinn answered.

"How can we know that He is perfect?"

"Because He defines Himself as perfection. He also says that He is love."

"What about all the crap that goes on around the world?" Dugan challenged. "How could a perfect God allow that?"

"Because He warned us that crap would happen if Adam and Eve sinned," Aimee's rather snide voice rose above the others. "He told them that if they ate from the Tree, they would surely die. They did eventually, and God cursed the earth."

"And sin separates us from Him because He is perfect," Silas added.

"But who says He could be perfect?" Martel asked.
"There is no authority above Him. He created the laws and definitions," Quinn explained. "A person has the authority to create the rules when he creates a game. This is similar to that, only on a much higher scale."

"Then if He is perfect," Dugan challenged. "Why would He send people to hell?"

"He did not send people," Quinn answered. "He lets us choose to accept His forgiveness or die and spend eternity without Him."

"And because He is perfect," Silas concluded, "that's hell."

"So you believe that what He says is correct, outside of individual decisions to believe or disregard it?" Martel asked.

Silas gave a grave nod.

"What about beauty?"

"Whatever He creates is beautiful."

"So manure is beautiful?"

"Look at all the uses it has," Aimee argued. "Everything in the universe is organized and has a system. Manure and all its contents are actually a large part of that."

"Man, you can say that about anything," Dugan chuckled as though she were foolish. "Doesn't make it beautiful by any means."

"Who says beautiful means appealing to the eyes only? Maybe all its uses are what makes it so beautiful."

"Someone told me God can use sin as an advantage," Martel began, leaning forward with curiosity.

"Does that make sin beautiful?"

Quinn contemplated this for a moment. "I'd say that would be God turning trash into treasure, or using an ugly thing to make someone else beautiful."

Several eyes shifted between each of the speakers in turn. Many seemed to be simply absorbing what was going on, though a couple parted their lips at every chance, eager to say something at the first chance they received.

"You really sound foolish, you know that?" said one young man with a glint in his dark eyes.

"Luckily for me, I am not a fool," Aimee announced.

"Yes, you are." Silas said.

Lightning could not match the flash in her eyes, nor could the thunder that grumbled overhead match the fury in her tone as she spoke next.

"I am not a fool, Silas Morgan," she spat angrily. "Why would I be for speaking the same words you are?"

"We are all fools, Aimee."

Sounds rose up from the students and they laughed. Aimee flushed crimson as she glanced from side to side.

"Morgan, you have no friends yourself," called a close companion of Aimee. "You never even crack a smile and you're about as warm as the storm outside."

Aimee sighed. "Unfortunately, Margaret, this jerk is a friend of mine. He just has Asberger's and severely impaired social judgment."

Silas met her gaze, a smile almost twitching at the corners of his lips. She wagged her head slowly at him, apparently still in wonder how they managed to get along.

"Class is over."

"You're correct," Hawkins said with a nod. "Make sure you take your handouts home and complete them before Thursday."

Silas wove through his classmates to reach the head of the classroom. "Sir, you made the comment on my intellect to spark the debate."

Hawkins' blue eyes twinkled. "I did. To provoke you into revealing who you are and what you can do."

The wise say very little, and those with understanding stay calm. - Proverbs 17:27