On a scale of one to ten, one being least certain and ten being the most certain, how would you rate your own certainty as to whether a God exists? Do you agree that to label yourself as a ten would be saying that you undoubtedly know that a God exists? In other words, you would be acknowledging this as an undisputed fact within your life and in the world? If you have rated yourself anywhere below ten, then you have indicated something very important about this belief. You have indicated that you cannot acknowledge this as an undisputed fact! Not for yourself, and most honest believers admit the very same thing.

What this ultimately becomes is an admission that your present knowledge in this world does not connect to having knowledge of a God. You have a belief in a God but this is clearly differentiated from knowledge by your own admission. Since this is the case then this knowledge gap should actually default you to a position of uncertainty. This is because we are speaking in terms of knowledge, not confidence or conviction. Do you see what I mean?

If you agree that you are in fact not certain that a God exists then does this not justify you to say that you lack knowledge about a God? Knowledge that you do not presently possess? If you agree with everything stated above, then please take time to consider your own label based upon what you know. Thank you for your time!

One more question to ponder in your own down time. Does the Bible support Agnostic Theism? Many passages would seem to indicate that a believer should speak from a position of knowledge. What do you think?

Passages to consider:

Proverbs 2:1-6

Daniel 11:32

Hosea 4:6

John 17:3

Romans 1:18-20, 21, 28

Romans 2:15-16

Romans 8:16

2 Corinthians 10:5

Colossians 1:9

Galatians 4:8-9

Ephesians 1:17

2 thoughts on “Faith vs. Knowledge Test

  1. ‘a believer should speak from a position of knowledge….’
    Yes but we can’t speak out of knowledge that we haven’t learned yet which is sometimes only obtained by experiencing great hardship and/or trials in life. If after we survive a storm we then can speak intelligently about the ‘knowledge’ learned by experiencing the ordeal. So some ‘believers’ shouldn’t speak on topics they haven’t experienced and can do more harm than good to assume they know everything without walking the life of another who lived it. I believe you can’t really believe in a God if you don’t have the relationship brought on by following and stepping out on faith without ‘knowing’ what will happen. Faith without action is dead. So belief without Questioning everything is also dead because then we would ‘blindly’ follow what someone else’s belief in life is.

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  2. Your blog reminds me of Peter Boghossian and his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists. Strangely enough, he claims that is not what he is attempting to do. He says, “I’m not trying to convince anyone to be an atheist, I’m trying to convince people to lead thoughtful and examined lives”…”I am trying to convince people to have an epistemology, a way of coming to knowledge that is rooted in reason and evidence. If someone has an epistemology like this, the natural response of this will be not to believe in God.”

    Prof Boghossian also says that he believes “faith is pretending to know things you don’t know”. I wonder if you would agree with that?

    Perhaps you might prefer to formulate it this way and say, Faith is belief in a thing without empirical evidence?

    I think faith vs. knowledge is actually a false dichotomy. In the context of Christianity, faith is not an epistemological category. It is not a way of knowing something. Faith is a way of trusting something. Faith is trusting in that which you have reason to believe is true. Once you have come to believe that something is true, using reliable epistemological means, you can then place your faith (trust) in those things.

    In any case, you seem to equate knowledge with certainty. But this seems obviously false. Why? Well, you seem to be saying if we’re not certain proposition p is true, then we don’t know that p. But why is that justified? For example, you know that you have a head. But you could actually be a brain in a bowl of chemicals being stimulated by scientist to think you have a body. Does that possibility imply that you don’t know you have a head? If you answer, “Yes,” then what is your justification for thinking that knowledge requires certainty? You say, “Anything!” Well, are you certain of that? If you say, “No,” then you don’t know that knowledge requires certainty. If you say, “Yes,” then it’s not true that we can’t know anything about life, the universe, God, or logic.

    I think the root of your arguments is really skepticism. The problem with skepticism is it presupposes that to know p, you must know that you know p. But if you can know some truth without knowing how it is you know it, then skepticism is obliterated.

    Since you have taken issue with William Lane Craig before, I’ll offer this quote from him. Maybe you’ll reconsider.

    “The French philosopher René Descartes in his struggle against scepticism wondered whether there might be an evil demon which is manipulating his thinking to make him believe that he has a body, that there are objects about him, and so on. Contemporary theorists of knowledge who want to appear au courant may conjecture instead about being a brain in a vat of chemicals stimulated with electrodes by some mad scientist or a body lying in the Matrix while inhabiting a virtual reality.

    Does that mean that contemporary theorists of knowledge have all embraced scepticism? Not at all! Rather they have come to realize that Descartes’ whole project was wrong-headed. You don’t start from a point of total doubt and try to build your system of beliefs upon indubitable foundations. The lesson of Descartes is that such a project is doomed to failure. Rather many or most of our beliefs are, as Plantinga says, basic beliefs. They are not inferred from more basic beliefs but constitute a person’s foundational beliefs. Beliefs which are appropriately grounded in experience are properly basic. We are perfectly rational to hold such beliefs unless and until we encounter some defeater of those beliefs. We don’t begin from a point of doubt but from what we are confident that we do know.

    For example, it seems to me that I have a head. Does anyone really doubt that he has a head? Notice that the mere possibility of error is not enough to defeat this belief. Just because I could be a brain in a vat deceived by a mad scientist doesn’t give me any reason to think that I am. Until you give me some compelling proof that I do not have a body, I am perfectly rational to believe in a properly basic way that I have a head.

    Similarly, the theist would need some compelling reason to think that God is deceiving him in order to abandon the belief that he has a head. Brian, turn the tables on the sceptic by asking him to give you a proof that theism gives you a defeater of your properly basic beliefs. About all he can say is, “God could be deceiving you.” But that provides no reason to think that He is. We could be deceived by a mad scientist; but that possibility is not sufficient to defeat our properly basic beliefs. At most, it shows that one cannot prove inferentially that one’s foundational beliefs are true. That’s right; that’s the lesson of Descartes. But that doesn’t imply that our properly basic beliefs are therefore irrational or unwarranted.

    The non-theist might reply that the theist is still in a worse position than the non-theist because the theist thinks that an omnipotent God does exist whereas the non-theist does not think that he is a brain in a vat. But the theist will see in God, not a reason to be sceptical of our senses and thinking, but rather the guarantor of the reliability of our belief-forming faculties. By contrast, the non-theist has no such guarantee. This is Plantinga’s point. What does it mean for our beliefs to be warranted, to constitute knowledge? Plantinga’s answer is that these beliefs are formed by cognitive faculties functioning properly in an appropriate environment. What does it mean to function properly? Well, to function as they were designed to. The theist is in a position to explain the proper functioning of our cognitive faculties, whereas the naturalist is at a loss to give an account of this crucial notion. Indeed, for the naturalist, since our cognitive faculties are not selected for truth but for survival, there is no basis at all to think that our faculties are reliable, for there is no probability that beliefs that promote survival will be true.

    So Descartes was, in a sense, right in the end. God is not part of the problem but part of the solution to the problem of scepticism.”

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