Another thing I must caution you guys about. We’ve just spent a considerable amount of time sharpening the wedge. When you take a strike at that next block of wood it may not require near as much force this time around! Go ahead, choose your target, line yourself up, and watch that piece of wood fall apart before your very eyes!
What other things widen the gap?
- The way knowledge itself is defined within religion stems primarily from authority. This authority source, namely God, is said to be the spring of all knowledge and truth. God would never tell a lie, he would never be misinformed, he states things about himself that are unquestionably awe inspiring and worthy of praise. However, this view of God and his authority is assuming that the people who wrote down the texts of the Bible or any other holy book in fact had undeniable encounters with an existing deity.
Let us grant that this is true, all well and good if people encountered such things! It’s kind of a cool idea right? How do such stories help us establish these facts in the present? Also, on the flip side of this coin humans have learned to be appropriately skeptical about these kinds of claims in our modern day. We’ve learned not to be so gullible because the vast majority (if not all) of these claims are dubious and clearly false. So why is it that a wise and all-knowing God would expect human beings to know how to automatically discern factual miracles from other dubious and false ones?
My conclusion in this regard is that if in fact there is an all-knowing deity that wants to cultivate my belief on this basis, then this being is purposely making it difficult for me and many others within and outside of religion to do so. For lack of a better term I’m going to label these miracle stories as claims that create logical hurdles based upon the present conditions that humans exist in. It only gets worse when we see how much the broad category of these existing claims vary and contradict one another throughout the religions.
- What if strange phenomena is actually occurring throughout the world? Instances of rapid healing of certain injuries after prayer, or even just unexpectedly apart from prayer? What if some people actually have been documented to be speaking in a foreign language that they did not previously know during times of heightened worship and prayer? What if the power of chi does create fire as we’ve curiously observed in certain videos circulating online? What are we to make of these kinds of things? Well, there’s no denying that many religions seek to use this type of phenomena to validate their own view of God and inspired texts. The problem once again occurs with this issue of favoritism and bias. One is automatically being asked to accept the bias of just one set of religious claims.
Considering the overall scheme of things it very well may be that the most open minded and sober judgment to apply in these cases is that the source of such phenomena among varying religions and even apart from religion is unknown. In fact, it is not known if it is appropriate to label such things as supernatural! This again is assuming that we have verified a realm in which immaterial divine beings dwell. So far, no such way of validating these claims exists. This varying phenomena, if it does turn out to be undisputedly true throughout the world could be the result of certain capacities that we humans didn’t know we had. Do you see what I’m saying? If the source is unknown, truly unknown and unverified, then it is justified to consider that such phenomena may be an interesting natural occurrence within this world and not necessarily from any other. Limited knowledge paired with objectivity allows these possibilities.
- Finally, the other way in which knowledge is defined within religion stems from a top down process that would appear to not be as careful or concerned about validation from the onset. Let me try to illustrate my point a little better. Knowledge within religion starts with God, not us, not the predicament that we as human beings find ourselves in. Not our own individual lives in which we must reason about fact and fiction everyday apart from any regularity or awareness of a supernatural realm. Remember the block of wood illustration? One side of this circle is unknown by us personally as well as by the world collectively. The other side of this circle does encompass all of the knowledge that we have gathered personally and collectively.
Accepting divine authority and inspiration automatically usurps a careful pursuit of the truth in which it may very well be justified by present conditions to suspend judgment about God and supernatural realms. Why would anyone want to start by assuming what is not yet known and confirmed? I’ll let you decide.