So, I thought these passages from Palamas were too good not to share. Here, he describes the limits of philosophy. This is a strong claim, but all Christians should agree with him in principle. Here, theology, which is truly "saving knowledge", comes not through philosophy or learning, but is from Above:
But if one says that philosophy, insofar as it is natural, is a gift of God, then one says true, without contradiction, and without incurring the accusation that falls on those who abuse philosophy and pervert it to an unnatural end. Indeed they make their condemnation heavier by using God's gift in a way unpleasing to Him.
Moreover, the mind of demons, created by God, possesses by nature its faculty of reason. But we do not hold that its activity comes from God, even though its possibility of acting comes from Him; one could with propriety call such reason an unreason. The intellect of the pagan philosophers is likewise a divine gift insofar as it naturally possesses a wisdom endowed with reason. But it has been perverted by the wiles of the devil, who has transformed it into a foolish wisdom, wicked and senseless, since it puts forward such doctrines [namely, polytheism or beliefs about a god--CP].
Is there then anything of use to us in this philosophy? Certainly. For just as there is much therapeutic value even in substances obtained from the flesh of serpents, and the doctors consider there is no better and more useful medicine than that derived from this source, so there is something of benefit to be had even from the profane philosophers-but somewhat as in a mixture of honey and hemlock. So it is most needful that those who wish to separate out the honey from the mixture should beware that they do not take the deadly residue by mistake. And if you were to examine the problem, you would see that all or most of the harmful heresies derive their origin from this source.
It is thus with the "iconognosts", who pretend that man receives the image of God by knowledge, and that this knowledge conforms the soul to God.
Nonetheless, if you put to good use that part of the profane wisdom which has been well excised, no harm can result, for it will naturally have become an instrument for good. But even so, it cannot in the strict sense be called a gift of God and a spiritual thing, for it pertains to the order of nature and is not sent from on high. This is why Paul, who is so wise in divine matters, calls it "carnal"; for, says he, "Consider that among us who have been chosen, there are not many wise according to the flesh". For who could make better use of this wisdom than those whom Paul calls "wise from outside"? But having this wisdom in mind, he calls them "wise according to the flesh", and rightly too.
Just as in legal marriage, the pleasure derived from procreation cannot exactly be called a gift of God, because it is carnal and constitutes a gift of nature and not of grace (even though that nature has been created by God); even so the knowledge that comes from profane education, even if well used, is a gift of nature, and not of grace-a gift which God accords to all without exception through nature, and which one can develop by exercise. This last point-that no one acquires it without effort and exercise, is an evident proof that it is a question of a natural, not a spiritual, gift.
This, then, is my conclusion: If a man who seeks to be purified by fulfilling the prescriptions of the Law gains no benefit from Christ-even though the Law had been manifestly promulgated by God-then neither will the acquisition of the profane sciences avail. For how much more will Christ be of no benefit to one who turns to the discredited alien philosophy to gain purification for his soul? It is Paul, the mouthpiece of Christ, who tells us this and gives us his testimony.