Posts Tagged ‘knowledge theory’

Who’s to Judge?

March 17, 2010

I believe…

Whatever I believe to be true is an expression of my own judgement.  I accumulate information, determine it’s credibility, interpret and apply what I have judged to be worthy of inclusion.

I believe in God.

I have been told that He exists.  I have accepted it as true.  I have thought about it, evaluated the information and come to the conclusion that I believe that God exists. 

I am passing judgement on the existence of God.

I read the Bible. 

I have accepted that the Bible is the Word of God.  I have been told that it is the Word of God.  I have thought about it, examined the claims, and judged that it is the Word of God.  Even after that acceptance, I must read it, interpret it, and apply it to my life. 

I am exercising judgement on the Word of God.

Isn’t this backwards???

If God exists, then ultimately, He will judge me. 

If the Bible is God’s Word, then my life will be judged by what that book contains.  

Who is to Judge?

Whose judgement will be final???

Advertisements

Logic, Reason, and Rhetoric

February 8, 2010

I am starting to think that everyone should take a course in logic.  This is not just because I teach logic, but because I am amazed at how commonly fallacious arguments, and weak arguments, are used to convince people to accept certain positions.   

People like to think that they have  good reasons to hold their positions.   They have listened, maybe, to what others have had to say, and are persuaded to believe in something that sounded good, or right,  to them.

Rhetoric, as I am using the term, means using persuasive language or techniques to get people to agree with your position.  Effective rhetoric may use logical reasoning, but it often involves fallacious reasoning, and emotive language.  People are persuaded to believe that something is true, using manipulative tactics.  Sometimes this is unintentional, and sometimes, the individual employing the tactics knows exactly what they are doing. 

If people were trained to recognize good arguments they would be less likely to be persuaded by manipulative tactics, and we would have more rational debates, less shouting matches,  and maybe come to better decisions.

I’m not going to hold my breathe.  I suspect that many people won’t even read this article, after they look at the title.

Sigh…

Choose to Act?

December 22, 2009

Our actions can be chosen after careful thought.  When we have a decision to make, we have the ability to carefully consider our options, and make the optimal choice.

But do we?

There are many times when what we “feel” like doing at the moment is not the same as what our rational mind would lead us to determine is the best action. 

Do we act according to our reasoning, or our feelings?

It depends on which is stronger at the moment of action.

Then, of course, there are those times when we simply react.  We say or do something without considering the alternatives or the consequences.  These reactions can be fostered by a whole host of various criteria. There are occasions when there is no time to think, simply to act.  Stress, emotions, fatigue,  and other factors can influence our response.

As Christians, we seek to live our lives in  a way that is pleasing to God.  We should ask God to guide our thoughts, our words and our deeds.  If we are “in the Spirit” our actions, and our reactions will be the right ones.

Crunch Time

December 15, 2009

It is the end of the semester.  Finals are being taken by students everywhere.  Some will have prepared diligently for this final opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned through the last few months.  Others will frantically cram in the last few hours before a test that they knew was coming since the beginning of the semester.  Some will just show up and hope that somehow they will pass.   A few will not even bother to show up.

One way or another, it will all be over soon.  All that will remain is a grade on a transcript, varying amounts of accumulated knowledge, and the memories of the experience, that will have been good for some, but not for all.

Partial Truth

November 9, 2009

Do you know everything? 

There may be a few people who act as if they know everything, but I suspect that all of us, if we are being honest, and are not delusional, would acknowledge that we do not know everything.

We must accept that we know only a part of the truth. 

Since we only know in part, it stands that our knowledge is incomplete.  Since our knowledge is incomplete, we should be willing to listen to others who may know something that we do not know.  Unless, of course, we have no desire to add to our accumulation of truth.   

Once we have become willing to listen to others then we have a new challenge.  That challenge is to be able to discern what is true, and what is false. This is far more easily said than done.  Certainly not everything that others tell us is true.  They too, have only a part of the truth. 

For today, I would simple encourage everyone to be willing to admit that we don’t know everything, and that we can learn new things, sometimes from surprising sources, it we are open to listen to others in our continuing search for truth.

Science and Religion

September 16, 2009

The best focus of scientific research is the present material realm.  Science is a wonderful tool for examining the workings of the world in which we live.  It provides us with much useful information that helps to make our lives better.

Religion deals with the world around us as well.  However religion goes beyond what we see to the realm of the nonmaterial.  Of course, not everyone believes in the existence of the nonmaterial, but many people do.  Religion provides a degree of understanding, a sense of purpose, and a basis for ethical behaviour. 

Science and religion do not have to be adversaries.  Their areas of primary emphasis are different.  Actually, they are wonderful compliments to each other, when the relationships between them, and the limitations of each are properly defined.

Beyond Words

September 3, 2009

“The spirit may grasp truth that breaks beyond the barriers of human language.”

Last night in Bible study, one of the older members of our congregation, (She is 97!) commented that the topic was so deep that she was having trouble expressing what God was saying to her.  After the study was officially concluded, we were still sitting around talking and the line that I wrote above, came to me and I quickly got up wrote it down on the board so that I wouldn’t forget it. 

I believe that God communicates to us in a variety of ways.  God will utilize the natural means of verbal communication, such as reading, dialogue, and rational thought; but additional truths are grasped by an internal comprehension,  a revelation on a spiritual level, which allows us to understand, but that may be difficult to express.  These truths have a profound impact on how we comprehend the things of God, and of the world, and even though our attempts to put them into words are only partially successful; they enrich our lives, and our cognition of metaphysical reality.

How Do We Know The Truth?

August 20, 2009

“You can’t believe everything you read.” 

Except this blog of course, I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth… unless of course I am confused, have my facts mixed up, bad memory, wrong information and so on.  OK, at least I promise not to intentionally lie, but you don’t necessarily know me, so does my word mean anything?

We know our own experiences.  Whether those experiences are remembered and interpreted correctly are another issue.  Sometimes people who were at the same event have different recollections of what happened and what was said.  So our collection of remembered data is relatively sound, but not absolute.

Things that we can see at the moment can be pretty certain.  Unless we are having a temporary, or even not-so-temporary break with reality caused by drugs, fatigue, mental illness or other factors.  Still, for most of us we can believe our senses, unless, of course we are deceived by a magician, or illusionist, or a quick talking con man.

Still for the most part, we can know a good deal about the world by our accumulation of assorted experiences.

We can also know what we hear from other sources.  The only problem with that is that we are relying on our sources to relay accurate information. 

Sources are not always accurate.

Now if we have multiple sources, or if our sources have been credible and reliable in the past, then we can become more certain of our knowledge.

What happens when our sources disagree? 

We evaluate our information by number of sources, reliability of sources, and how well the information meshes with the rest of our understanding of reality as we know it.

Good luck with that.

Jesus said that he is “The way, the truth, and the life..”

and that “we shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us free.”

In Proverbs it tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

I believe that through my faith in Christ I can have a knowledge that is secure.  I have a firm foundation upon which to build my life-view.  Once you have The Cornerstone, the rest can be built up.  If I occasionally have to take out a section, and rebuild, that doesn’t shake my world.  I don’t always have to be right, as long as I know The Truth.

Truth by Popular Vote?

February 26, 2009

As a country we appreciate a good vote.  American Idol has captivated millions with the opportunity to elect the winner by our votes  The success of Survivor has been partially because we love to watch people live, work, and plot with, and against, each other for the all important vote at the end of each episode.  As a country we recently finished a two year campaign for our political vote, as we elected the people who would be our political leaders.

All of these votes are valid and important; but can a vote be applied to truth?  Some would suggest that it could, that truth itself is a relative concept, that each society decides for itself what is true and what is false. 

It may be true to some degree that each society decides what it accepts as true, or false, but that does not mean that society is able to establish an ultimate truth.  I believe that for many things there is an ultimate, eternal truth.  Our goal should be to search for that truth, not to attempt to create truth by popular vote.  If everyone believes a lie, it may govern their actions, but it is still a lie.  Sometimes lies can be very popular and the truth may be inconvenient, but the truth, ultimately, is worth searching for in our lives.  It may not make us popular, but it will make us right, and the search itself will add a dimension to our lives that would not exist if we simple flowed downstream with the crowd.

Christmas, the Bible and Truth

December 24, 2008

Christmas, the Bible and truth.

There are several approaches in epistemology for determining truth value. (Epistemology is the section in philosophy that deals with issues of knowledge and truth.)

The correspondence theory states that truth is determined by whether or not empirical facts can verify claims.  Atheists and Christians have argued for a long time over the conclusions of this approach.  Of course, as a Christian I believe that the Bible is true and I have not personally seen anything that satisfactorily contradicts that claim.  The eternal nature of some of the claims of scripture will have to wait for eternity for verification.

The coherence theory evaluates the cohesiveness of a group of claims to determine truth. (kind’ve like how we can catch a person in a lie.)  For me, and for millions of others,  the Bible is a cohesive truth.  It is internally consistent, which is remarkable since it is written by so many different people over such a length of time.  It is also consistent with its application to life.  It fits together with my understanding and my experience very well.

The pragmatic theory states that something is true, if believing it to be true “works”.  Again for myself, and for millions of others the Bible works.  Millions of people live better lives because of their belief in the Bible as the word of God.

The concept of truth as a social construct is yet another approach.   This theory states that truth is determined by ones culture, or society. ( I personally do not accept this basic concept of truth, but if I did, it could apply to the Bible.)  There are millions of people who for thousands of years have believed the Bible to be true, therefore in this approach the Bible is true.

As we celebrate Christmas, we can believe that the biblical story is true.  Jesus  was born of the Virgin Mary.  He is the Son of God.  Immanuel, God with us.

Merry Christmas Everyone!