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Knowledge And Faith


Mike
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In the popular thinking of our culture, even among the religious, there is often a great chasm drawn between faith and knowledge, the assumption being that one really has nothing whatever to do with the other. Peoples’ religious “beliefs” are contrasted with what they “know.” The religious take things on faith while the rational person acts on knowledge. And by knowledge is usually meant the results gained by the scientific method. But is this really practical or reflect the reality of religious life?

I certainly would not think of my faith as not being grounded in knowledge or reality. Granted, there are certainly many expressions of Christianity that invest more in belief in questionable propositions than others, but for faith in general, and religion in general, I tend to think it a bit unfair to dichotomize knowledge and faith in such a fashion.

My own experience of Christianity, and religion in general, is grounded in way of relating to reality that has its own kind of knowledge, call it experiential, mystical, and too including philosophical/metaphysical intimations and other intellectual considerations. It would seem to me that religion and knowledge aren’t so antithetical. Religion has its own kind of knowledge, and may be complementary to scientific knowledge. What we call faith may be the trust to act on and live that knowledge. What would be the alternative, to admit that religion has nothing to do with knowledge? Why then bother with religion at all?

What are your thoughts?

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My understanding is

that we, and our community, create our reality combining input from all our experiences whether empirical, or spiritual, or psychological, or relationships, ... . Some choose to deny that one or another way of knowing is not valid. I don't - most of the time - just don't get too woo-woo ;)

 

Dutch

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Mike,

 

On Knowledge and Faith

 

It seems to me there are two kinds of knowledge. The most common being a knowledge 'about', which comes from study whether scientific or personal experimentation. With it one can spend a life time studying religion or even birds for that matter and know all there is recorded to know about God through religion or birds through study and observation without really ever truly knowing either.

 

The second, a knowledge that is innate and does not come in words but is subjectively experienced by virtue of being One (in Christ) with God in which is hid all true knowledge and wisdom. It is not a learned knowledge but a knowing by virtue of experiencing that oneness that is in and through all things. It is not something learned but rather more as something that is already known but hidden or obscured by the illusion of knowing obtained through study, thinking, and formulating concepts through what we might deem as rational or scientific means.

 

To me it seems that faith or trust as has been mentioned in the OP can be the catalyst that is able to remove many of the barriers that obscure that second type of knowledge so, to me, Faith may be used for a change to take place but when true Knowledge is realized there ceases to be a need for faith. Whether one would then consider them compatible or not depends on ones definition. I personally would language the one as a catalyst and the other as true knowledge and not use the word compatible as to me that signifies "harmonious, agreeable, or congenial combination" and "with no modification or conversion required". In my experience, I have found that some that was accepted by the concept of faith was true but also that much that had been accepted by faith was not true and modification was required .

 

Religion therefore to me does have something to do with knowledge in my case but I do not see it as a requirement for all.

Just my thoughts related to your post.

 

Joseph

 

 

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Thanks for your thoughts.

I agree that it really depends on how one defines faith (and knowledge too). In my experience, or, my understanding of the word “faith,” it must always be grounded in or motivated by some knowledge, otherwise it cannot affect a change in one’s heart or direction. For me, that knowledge has been slowly and incrementally imparted by "glimpsing," every now and then, a reality that is holy. And those glimpses have rewarded the necessary motivation to search deeper. The more glimpses, the more knowing, the more whole one's understanding becomes, the greater faith to continue to act and live this knowledge. I suppose my point is that, if religion and faith weren’t about such knowledge, it would be difficult to justify their existence, philosophically or pragmatically.

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I guess my view on knowledge as it relates to faith is that we can never have the perfect knowledge we seek; the unknown is what defines us as humans on earth. We are forever enigmas, elusive fragments to ourselves and each other.

But as Joseph said, there is knowledge about and knowledge of, which is more like wisdom. I like this line from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets: “The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility; humility is endless.” The greatest wisdom is to accept our failures, errors, and foolishness --to confess these is to acknowledge the eternal-- that which is greater than our heart, from which we can never be separated.

In Paul’s letters there’s the idea that the deepest wisdom we can arrive at is the understanding that love alone endures; it is the only complete and lasting knowledge. We may not comprehend God, but we are comprehended by God. Maybe that’s one way the intersection of knowledge and faith might be expressed.

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  • 1 month later...

In the popular thinking of our culture, ... . Why then bother with religion at all?

What are your thoughts?

 

Mike,

Good post.

It appears the posts that followed provided the needed evidence for your "popular thinking" thesis. They follow a modern path that has set up an absolute dichotomy between knowledge and faith, or reason and non-reason.

Contrarily, however, the methodology of 'knowing' is always the same. Though there are those who may even try to argue otherwise, the method always comes down to being the same. The methodology of epistemology, of sorting out the truth so the knowledge can be reliable, follows the classical standard. This standard is strictly (albeit unwittingly) adhered to even when raising an argument against it.

The argument that nature can be discussed reasonably, but the spiritual can't; where rationality is fine in nature, but is horrible in the spiritual; that knowledge we can know with our reason in only mathmatical, but in order to find true knowledge one has to hope to find some sort of mystical experience. It is in this hope of some sort of mystical experience to provide the universal truths. (Previous to current "popular thinking", mysticism assumed something was actually there. Currently, popular mysticism assumes no such certainty.)

This uncertainty leaves the mystical interpretations to the purely subjective, with no outside source of knowledge, relinquishing it to the least reliable knowledge. Finding truth only in our own head means we can't be certain anything is out there.

This brings us to reality. I agree with the manner in which you used the word and agree that we, our knowledge and our faith, exist in reality. Neither can I be so presumptuous as to think man creates it.

True Faith requires a certainty not a blind leap. That certainty rests in asking questions of details and in regard to the existence of the universe and its complexity and in regard to the existence of man. This knowledge is on what faith rests.

I am invited to ask questions and to then to believe and humbly bow before God metaphysically in knowing that I exist because He made man, and bow before Him morally as needing His provision for me in the substitutionary and propitiatory death of Christ.

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I think the problem is that we work backwards from the dichotomy of faith/belief/religion and knowledge. Faith should be about expecting to meet creation becoming in the next moment. What we can be certain about to some degree is that the next moment will happen. The question of knowledge and faith is question of being and becoming. We have knowledge of those things that exist in the past. Concrete. Perhaps objective if several people use the same language - language of science or religion that forms everything we know - if several people agree on the language then that objective moment becomes an "objective reality". Our religious and scientific knowledge predict the next moment. But we don't have knowledge as a reality until the moment has passed into objectivity. Participating in the moment is a wholly other event. It is not a way of knowing. Our communities, scientific or religious, are the context in which our reality is formed. I think our thoughts are controlled by our language and our communities. Change language, change context, change community and your truth has been changed.

 

We each have individual practices of scientific knowing and religious knowing. Because we want to find certain knowledge and meaning we often think in dichotomies and forget that the dichotomy is an artificial construct. We can learn from the objective past and have knowledge and also we can live with expectancy for the next moment. One is a noun; one is a verb. Not part of a dichotomy. Really.

 

IMHO :)

Dutch

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I think the problem is that we work backwards from the dichotomy of faith/belief/religion and knowledge. Faith should be about expecting to meet creation becoming in the next moment. What we can be certain about to some degree is that the next moment will happen. The question of knowledge and faith is question of being and becoming. We have knowledge of those things that exist in the past. Concrete. Perhaps objective if several people use the same language - language of science or religion that forms everything we know - if several people agree on the language then that objective moment becomes an "objective reality". Our religious and scientific knowledge predict the next moment. But we don't have knowledge as a reality until the moment has passed into objectivity. Participating in the moment is a wholly other event. It is not a way of knowing. Our communities, scientific or religious, are the context in which our reality is formed. I think our thoughts are controlled by our language and our communities. Change language, change context, change community and your truth has been changed.

 

We each have individual practices of scientific knowing and religious knowing. Because we want to find certain knowledge and meaning we often think in dichotomies and forget that the dichotomy is an artificial construct. We can learn from the objective past and have knowledge and also we can live with expectancy for the next moment. One is a noun; one is a verb. Not part of a dichotomy. Really.

 

IMHO :)

Dutch

Dutch,

Thanks for your HO. But to be clear, my point is that there is no dichotomy at all (much less one to work backwards from). Both knowledge and faith are rational. In this vein, it appears Mike and I are in agreement.

Objective reality/truth exists, regardless of whether people agree or not. If it did not, we would have no hope of finding any meaning, and Mike is on the mark when he asks, "Why then bother with religion (or science) at all?"

You may change all of the particulars in any manner you wish, but the universal objective truths never will. Because they don't, we can have a dependable reational faith and knowledge and we can rationally understand the meaning of the thousands of particulars we inevitably encounter daily in life. If truth changed, there would be no meaning and faith and knowledge could not exist.

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What are your thoughts?

 

For me, alot of this does come down to how we define "knowledge" and "faith." I appreciate what Joseph had to say about knowledge being "knowing about" versus "experiencing." I can have alot of knowledge about Abraham Lincoln, but I don't know Abraham Lincoln. Everything I know about him comes to me second-hand. I have not personally experienced him, so my knowledge is more science-based, gained through my senses, rather than mystical, somehow being in touch with the spirit of Abraham Lincoln.

 

Christianity, IMO, goes from one extreme to the other. On one hand, there are Christians who have alot of knowledge about God, Jesus, and the Bible, mostly gained through self-study, training, indoctrination, liturgies, etc. While they may claim to know God and Jesus, because their focus is more on books and the revelations of others (say, the apostle Paul, for instance), their knowledge is more of a second-hand mental assent to the primary mystical experiences of others. I find it odd that Christians who sneer at the revelations of Joseph Smith swallow everything Paul said, hook, line, and sinker.

 

On the other hand there are Christians who claim to actual know God and Jesus apart from any scripture, training, or religious culture. These are the mystics who claim to have a direct pipeline to God. They don't really need the Bible nor doctrines of the church. They claim to know God in a personal way that is first-hand knowledge. For them, their revelations are just as important (or maybe even more important) than those of the apostle Paul and other church fathers.

 

Faith, as it is commonly presented in religion, does seem to be the antithesis of knowledge. I like Mark Twain's definition of faith, "Faith is believin' what you know ain't true." :) I suspect there is a deeper meaning to faith then just "believing." I suspect that faith is not our means of contacting God, but our response to God. But I still find that the modern interpretation of faith is holding to a set of creedal statements as literal facts, rather than, as I think Dutch is saying, a manner of living.

 

So Christianity has a wide view of how knowledge about God is known or experienced and of what faith means. For the conservative Christians, knowledge is primarily about taking what other people have said about God to be true, especially as found in the scriptures. For the mystics, knowledge seems to be primarily about valuing their own experiences of God and not wanting a "second-hand God." Faith for the conservatives is about believing what other people have said to be the truth. Faith for the mystics seems to be about responding to what is doing in their lives, even if it doesn't line up with what other people have experienced.

 

Lastly, I don't know where I stand on any of these terms. I guess I'm just comfortable to stand back and watch for now. :)

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Objective reality/truth exists, regardless of whether people agree or not. If it did not, we would have no hope of finding any meaning, and Mike is on the mark when he asks, "Why then bother with religion (or science) at all?"

You may change all of the particulars in any manner you wish, but the universal objective truths never will. Because they don't, we can have a dependable reational faith and knowledge and we can rationally understand the meaning of the thousands of particulars we inevitably encounter daily in life. If truth changed, there would be no meaning and faith and knowledge could not exist.

 

I agree with much of what you say because in my view reality really is "out there" and not simply whatever we make of it. If reality is like a Rorschach blot, the blot is still really there. :)

To my mind "truth" is synonymous with "Reality." What we call "truths" get their "truthiness" from Reality, facts get their factuality from Reality. But I'd also like to note that to my mind there is more to truth than objectivity (not that objectivity is of less value). I suppose I mean this in both a mystical and an existential way. Truth is not merely a concept, not merely an objectification of things. Truth is not an abstraction of things, Reality is not the embodiment of a concept. Truth goes deeper to the spiritual and mysterious side of things, the side of things that's too immediate and concrete to express or contain in words.

Edited by Mike
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Lastly, I don't know where I stand on any of these terms. I guess I'm just comfortable to stand back and watch for now. :)

 

And that's perfectly fine. I enjoyed following through your thoughts. I think ultimately one has to experience religious knowledge first-hand. Otherwise one is dependent on the other type: second-hand, abstract, detached. It's the difference between, say, for a man stuck in the desert to merely be thinking about that nice tall glass of ice water, and him actually drinking one. He can think about it with all his might but he'll still die unless he gets the real thing.

But I think one type of knowledge may be necessary for the other. You have to learn about it first (say, learn that water is needed to quench your thirst), have your mind and heart prepared. Even Paul said "faith comes by hearing." But that kind of knowledge is not, to my mind, an end in itself.

Edited by Mike
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davidk

 

If truth changed, there would be no meaning and faith and knowledge could not exist.

 

I think truth is conditional and does change through the ages. There are so many versions of truth from the communities that lived after Jesus. Just pick one which seems to contain the most truth about Jesus. There is no meaning to the landscape of past moments behind except that which we assign through our language, context and communities of agreement, whether it is of scientific or religious knowledge. That which we thought we know in science changes and churches rapid cycle their views. Is there no constant? Is there no thing we can carry from moment to moment? Meaning and knowledge do not serve us well. But faith, stepping forward with expectancy, not expectations, and our values which guide us.

 

What is valued in science? The scientific method. That is way to look forward. Does it gain us knowledge? A conditional kind of knowledge. Not a knowledge that is a firm foundation for any permanent abstract truth.

 

Dutch

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Mike,

 

but the universal objective truths never will [change]. Because they don't, we can have a dependable rational faith and knowledge and we can rationally understand the meaning of the thousands of particulars we inevitably encounter daily in life. If truth changed, there would be no meaning and faith and knowledge could not exist.

 

Is there an universal objective truth that does not depend on language, context or community?

 

Dutch

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Mike,

 

 

 

Is there an universal objective truth that does not depend on language, context or community?

 

Dutch

 

Hi Dutch,

 

On the outset that is a very involved question, for which I can only offer my own untrained opinion. I'm probably going to go into more than you asked about, but I'd like to get some of my thoughts out there anyway for review. The common snare to answering "no" to your question would be: wouldn't that answer then become a universal, objective truth? To me, this is a very valid point. By our very asking, we seem to presuppose that there is a reality apart from our interpretations of it.

 

As it happens, though, in any system, whether conceptual or physical, there will always be invariances that occur in spite of, or rather in tandem with, all the various transformations. And this is not because of any intrinsic property of the invariance, but rather because of the character of the system as a whole.

 

As such I am inclined to doubt that there really is any universal conceptual truth which can be established apriori, as if these truths were absolute, existing in a vacuum. The only exception to this, to my mind, being only the most fundamental of notions: 'existence' or 'being'. It is somewhat telling that this notion of 'being' is rejected by many philosophers for being logically meaningless - saying nothing at all.

 

However, when I think of objectivity, I think of relationships, particularly relationships in mathematics and physics. These relationships I think are quite real. That the distance from Earth to Sun is 93 million miles, or the properties of the triangle, or Newton's law of gravity, are really not subject to opinion. However, relationships really are the "stuff" of context, are they not? I do not think the objects of objectivity exist in an absolute way. Moreover, there is more to reality than 'objectivity'. There are aspects of reality that defy description or being captured by words. You cannot view both sides of the moon at once, you cannot see your own eye. The reality of the subject is very important in my thinking. I think perhaps it would be better to think in terms of inter-subjectivity.

 

Ultimately I think objectivity's limitations are most stark when thinking in terms of God, reality, existence, being. There is no way that Reality can be seen from the outside, no way that it itself can be treated as an object (noting full well the linguistic contradiction by referring to reality as 'it' and 'itself'.) True objectivity is an impossibility in principle, because reality is not an object (the objects of our experience, are, after all, subjects, and we are objects to these subjects - it is all a duality that I do not think exists apart from conceptualization). Like our discussions in the Tao thread, you cannot point to 'this' or 'that' and say - yeah, that's it. Reality is in its true nature vague, ambiguous, non-objective - just like what I consider to be the most fundamental of notions: being, existence.

 

Moreover, all statements that we make about reality, all systems, are by nature incomplete, as demonstrated, as I understand, probably most dramatically by the mathematician Godel (whose actual proofs surpass my level of understanding). Any statement we make, if true, relies on the completeness of reality, rather than any intrinsic completeness of the statement itself. To my mind there can be no ultimate 'theory of everything', which many physicists have sought after, because all statements are limited. You cannot contain reality with any finite set of axioms. Statements always look beyond what's contained within it.

 

Feel free to critique my perspective on this because I'm sure there are fallacies latent in this. :)

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Wow, I feel like a kindergartener sitting in on a college-level physics discussion. :lol: I admit, alot of this is over my head, but I can still distill some of it down to where, for me, the rubber meets the road, and I appreciate what is being said here (or what I think is being said). Reality is real. It exists, apart from human perceptions. Yes, I know that some would disagree, that's okay, I'm just trying to process from where I am. While reality is real, our perception of reality is always subjective. Even though a picture hanging on a wall is real (unless we are talking quantum physics), there are minute misperceptions in how we each see it because of defects inherent in our eyes. A color-blind person would have enough more of a challenge. And we haven't even begun to discuss how we each interpret the picture, what it's meaning really is.

 

To me, GOD is like the picture. Davidk has wanted me to agree with him that God is an objective reality. I have done so. I believe that GOD is reality itself. But where we meet loggerheads is that I insist that none of us experience GOD as objective, that GOD is only experienced subjectively, relationally. This should make us very humble about our statements of GOD -- what GOD is, what GOD is not.

 

The problem that I have with much of conventional Christianity is that it takes the whole picture of GOD, the all-encompassing transcendance of GOD, and tries to say that a couple of brush strokes of GOD as found in the Bible (whether OT or NT) is the WHOLE THING, everything that can be known about GOD. They insist that the God of the scriptures is the GOD of the entire universe (and whatever is beyond and deeper than that). And I find this insistance to be akin to the old Indian story of the blind men describing an elephant.

 

If my metaphor is true, then it becomes almost foolish for any of us to say that we KNOW GOD. It would be like a kindergartener, who knows that 1+1=2, stating that he now understands college physics. He has, at most, a beginning. Nothing more. This doesn't mean he should give up. It means he should be open to learning more. To me, that is where faith comes in, faith that I (and the human race) are not done yet. I don't even care that I will never fully know this GOD that is, for me, ultimately reality. The glimpses of the portrait that I sometimes see, mainly in others, is enough to keep me on this quest for beauty - the GOD of our universe reflecting GOD's presence in a million different exquisite, unique facets in nature, music, story, myth, science, medicine, and, perhaps most astonishing of all, human personality. I don't seek to bow in worship before this Object, I seek to plunge into it's depth and be completely immersed.

 

Just a few thoughts.

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Mike

 

As such I am inclined to doubt that there really is any universal conceptual truth which can be established apriori, as if these truths were absolute, existing in a vacuum. The only exception to this, to my mind, being only the most fundamental of notions: 'existence' or 'being'. It is somewhat telling that this notion of 'being' is rejected by many philosophers for being logically meaningless - saying nothing at all.

 

Bill

To me, GOD is like the picture. Davidk has wanted me to agree with him that God is an objective reality.

 

While reality is real, our perception of reality is always subjective.

 

 

Mike

 

There isn't a limit to the answer to the question I posed because I think it is fundamental. The notion that "Language, context and community" determine so much of what we think occurred to me before I knew what I was saying. Thanks for engaging the question. I agree with what you said, at the least the part I understood.

 

I would also doubt that there is really any universal conceptual which be established. I would liked the idea of inter-subjectivity.

 

Being, existence - I think that is related to the fact that many tribal groups call themselves "people" - Adam, human for example. It is we, us. We exist.

 

Bill

I insist that none of us experience GOD as objective, that GOD is only experienced subjectively, relationally. This should make us very humble about our statements of GOD -- what GOD is, what GOD is not.

 

To me this is "true" and points to the fundamental problem. We cannot think what we cannot say. What we can say is determined by our culture. The transcendence of God exists outside our culture, our language and our ability to think.

 

I have a fuller explanation - mostly quoting from "The Bridge to Humanity" by Goldschmidt but that's next time. I am late for work.

 

I didn't do my usual proof reading.

 

Dutch

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Wow, I feel like a kindergartener sitting in on a college-level physics discussion. :lol: I admit, alot of this is over my head, but I can still distill some of it down to where, for me, the rubber meets the road, and I appreciate what is being said here (or what I think is being said).

 

I'm thinking your sentiments were directed mainly at my post, since I can tell my writing was rather obscure. I assure you, if you had trouble understanding what I was trying to say, it's not because it was over your head but because I was being too lazy and neglected to take the time to make my writing clear. :lol:

 

Right now I have to go but I'll be thinking about your post. And Dutch's post.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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First let me say that, for me, probably all we need to understand is found in rivanna's post.

 

"But as Joseph said, there is knowledge about and knowledge of, which is more like wisdom. I like this line from T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets: 'The only wisdom we hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility , humility is endless.' To confess our failures, errors, and foolishness is to acknowledge the eternal - that which is greater than our heart."

 

Not being particularly humble I will continue in my foolishness by attempting some synthesis of our conversation about knowledge and faith. It has not been a hindrance to use these words in different ways but I need to piece those different meanings together. This post may be even presumptuous. I apologize if any one feels misrepresented.

 

 

Knowledge

 

We have usually talked about two kinds of knowledge.

 

First

The first seems easy to describe: facts, propositions, knowledge about things, knowledge how things work, what to do if I am thirsty, hungry, in need of clothes, want a better paying job, or a new car.

 

We obtain this first kind of knowledge by our senses, by the scientific method, reasoning, observing, measuring, rationally sorting out the [facts] so the knowledge can be reliable.

 

I think it is accurate to say that the goal of epistomology is "justified true belief" objective reality, Knowledge.

 

In reviewing what was written in various posts there is some agreement about the nature of this first kind of knowledge.

 

Second

 

We called this second knowledge faith or religious beliefs, In describing the second kind of knowledge, knowledge of faith, of religious belief we had a greater variety of views or ideas both as to the definition of this second kind of knowledge and how we obtain knowledge of it.

 

Knowledge about nature and knowledge about faith are the same.

 

davidk posited that the same method, classical epistemolgy, obtained knowledge for religious beliefs as well as the physical world, nature, the universe. This erases the difference between "knowledge" and "faith" because "justified true belief" or objectivity reality is possible in both. So there is no difference. We use the same method to sort out justified true belief so the fields are the same.

Knowledge about nature and knowledge about faith are complementary ways of knowing.

 

in one post Mike suggests that knowledge in Christianity and religion in general "is grounded in a way of relating to reality that has its own kind of knowledge, call it experiential, mystical, including philosophical or metaphysical intimations..." that "Religion has its own kind of knowledge, and may be complementary to scientific knowledge."

 

Mike suggests that this religious knowledge is obtained incrementally by "glimpsing" every now and then, a reality that is holy. ... the more glimpses, the more knowing, the greater the faith to continue to act and live this knowledge

 

Knowledge about nature and knowledge about faith are not comparable categories

 

Joseph includes both knowledge of nature and knowledge of religious beliefs in the same category

 

- knowing ABOUT birds, air water, God. I am excited by his idea "that faith or trust can be a catalyst" that can overcome the barriers that obscure oneness with God in which is hidden all true knowledge and wisdom. - a knowing by experiencing. Faith seems to aid our journey to this experience but then is not needed. Knowing about religion can nudge us toward an experience of true knowledge.

 

Bill writes :) I like Mark Twain's definition of faith, "Faith is belivin' something what you know ain't true." I suspect there is a deeper meaning to faith than just believing. ... not our means of contacting God but our response to God.

 

Faith is not about knowledge, it's about posture or a way of living

 

Rivanna offers T. S. Eliot's sublime "the only wisdom is humility." For me, this changes the nature of the second knowledge to an attitude or posture, from which we can experience the eternal - that which is greater than our heart. Or from Paul "love alone endures."

 

Knowledge or meaning

 

Mike did not title this topic "Science and/or Religion" and I think that is a good thing. The struggle between "Science and Religion" is a political struggle and really not a struggle for control of the ways of knowledge. It is a struggle to defend Scripture against any ideas that undermine an infallible interpretation and an eternal fixed meaning. It is also a struggle for control of the meaning of existence.

 

It is not knowledge we truly seek. As Joseph has said, such knowledge is a distraction. In our struggle with death we want to know that life meant something; we seek meaning. Well some of us still do. Several here would say there may be no meaning, I think. There is just now and the expectancy with which we meet it.

 

We have used "faith" in many ways and I find it confusing. If one steps out in certain knowledge, isn't that like reading a manual; there's no risk involved. Noah received a manual; he was told what to do and what would happen if he didn't follow the instructions. Abraham acted in no certainty as he walked Isaac up the mountain. He did not know what to expect. He behavior was normal in his historical context. That is what I understand to be faith. But I can't use the word. I have replaced it with "expectancy". (Thanks Janet).

 

So, davidk, for me, there is no "objective reality". Our thinking is limited by our language and our perceptions are limited by our tools and the horizon of our community. And we, the community, carry the meaning of our lives in our stories which are not subject to a "justified true belief" test. It seems that the smaller our community, those we think of as "us", the more we can say about God, the bigger and wider our community's horizons, the less we say about God with any certainty.

 

 

You say that I must play the epistemology game in disagreeing with you, and, that whether or not I agree, objective reality exists. Well the answer is none of the above. Objective reality depends desperately on agreement. A thought experiment: If you were the only person in the universe who insisted that objective reality existed would you be right? Unless God told you - a subjective mystical experience - you would have no way of knowing unless someone agreed with you.

 

Second: Epistemolgy is about knowledge. You insist that I have to play football, but I am playing golf. I am talking about stories, holy stories, of the struggle to find meaning, not knowledge, meaning which ultimately may not exist. Stories that inform us, that describe how we have lived, suggest how we might live, how we love. How we walk into the next moment.

 

As Bill wrote:

...none of us experience God objectively, God is only experienced relationally

 

Walk humbly - its easy for me to say. :D

Love alone endures - glad it does not depend on me :(

 

Peace

Dutch

 

=====================================

I tried not to use the word "truth". It is another topic. As Mike wrote on Sept 8: 1:56am, But I'd also like to note that to my mind there is more to truth than objectivity. I suppose I mean this in both a mystical and an existential way. ... Truth goes deeper on the spiritual and mysterious side of things."

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All,

 

I regret some of my previous post. The energy for much of it was displaced emotions. I had no right to represent others here and say, "Several here would say there may be no meaning, I think." Other statements I made in the later part of the post may be untenable.

 

I apologize.

 

Dutch :(

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Dutch,

 

To me, there’s no reason to apologize for your thoughtful summary – particularly liked “It is not knowledge that we seek” and “God is only experienced relationally.”

 

I was thinking about a few instances where the bible touches on this topic, somewhat obliquely. In the old testament knowledge is often denigrated –the tree in Eden, for starters. Proverbs begins by saying the beginning of wisdom is awareness of God, and in Job, wisdom means acknowledging our human limits. Eccleciastes says knowledge, study, even wisdom, is vanity and chasing the wind.

 

In the new testament the contrast is more often “knowledge puffs up, charity / affection builds up.” Another twist: Paul says “anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge, but anyone who loves God is known by him....Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known” (I Corinthians). We may not comprehend, but we are comprehended by God. We cannot yet know God face to face, but God knows us fully with a love that sees into the depth of our hearts. I like the way Tillich interprets this passage- “love is the only power of complete and lasting knowledge. There is a Greek word which can designate both knowledge and sensual love: an act of union between beings. Knowledge shall be done away with in so far as it is different from love; knowledge shall become eternal in so far as it is one with love.”

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Dutch,

 

Your post was not reported as offensive by anyone. While it is not necessarily a good idea to try to speak for others because of the possibility of misinterpretation and offence, nevertheless, your sensitivity to catch it on your own and 'nip it in the bud', so to speak shows a humble, loving and caring spirit for others that speaks powerfully on your behalf. Your self-action is a welcome asset to the spirit of the principles of TCPC.

 

JosephM(as Moderator/Admin)

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Hi Dutch,

 

To be perfectly honest I just now got around to reading your post here, and I can say I found nothing offensive about it. I enjoyed following through your synthesis of the many perspectives present. However, if you feel something like this may be too presumptuous, all you have to do in the future is note that what follows is simply your interpretation of what the various posters were trying to say. Actually, you did provide a disclaimer in paragraph three. In any case no offense taken by me, but I do appreciate your concern for not wishing to do so.

 

It is not knowledge we truly seek. As Joseph has said, such knowledge is a distraction. In our struggle with death we want to know that life meant something; we seek meaning. Well some of us still do. Several here would say there may be no meaning, I think. There is just now and the expectancy with which we meet it.

 

This struck me particularly powerfully for some reason. I just now realized that this is the very one you were concerned with possibly being offensive. But I like your observation that mere knowledge isn't what we're after but a real meaning for our lives.

All in all I enjoyed your thoughts. Hope you are well, friend.

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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To All,

 

All your support of Dutch in this thread is commendable but to clarify some TCPC board etiquette ....

 

It was wise of Dutch on his own to perceive that his comments, in many of his own words, on what others said, however interesting, are not something that is necessarily a good exercise in edification for all. It is often wiser to merely quote someone exactly as written and respond with your view rather than to put what they say in your own words as if they said it except as a question to the one who said it.

 

Putting in a disclaimer for presumptions and then speaking for what another said in your own words, while it sounds reasonable, is not a wise solution to making presumptions here. While no one was hurt or injured nor was Dutch notified by me or any moderator concerning his post, the official position here is his concern/sensitivity toward others was warranted and is commendable.

 

JosephM(as Moderator/Admin)

 

 

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I'm sure many of us are already aware of this, but there is a "knowledge about" and a "knowledge of". To me, these two kinds of knowledge are somewhat related, but can be very different.

 

"Knowledge about" tends to be objective, seeing the other as distinct from one's self, focusing on the differences. It's based in observation. The self that is doing the observing maintains distance and safety. There is little risk.

 

"Knowledge of" tends to be subjective, seeing the other as part of one's self, focusing on the similarities. It's based in experience. The self that is experiencing what, at first, appears to be other becomes embedded in the other. Safety is sacrificed for the sake of experiencing union and there appears to be the risk of losing self. In actuality, I believe that the self is enhanced by the union, but it sounds like a contradiction.

 

With "knowledge about", faith is seen as believing that what has been ascertained is the truth, that what is "known" is the objective truth, often seeing truth as a requirement for future reward. We have to know the truth because someday we will have to repeat the truth back to Someone to see if we understood it correctly. Knowledge leads to truth which leads to personal (read this as "selfish") reward.

 

With "knowledge of", faith is seen as trusting that what is being experienced leads to deepening relationship. The focus is not so much on objective truth as it is on selfless giving for the sake of the other, a notion we call love. But we don't love because it is a requirement for us to get a reward someday. We love because it gives us meaning and fulfillment now, it allows us to experience, on some level, eternity today. This kind of knowledge leads to love which leads, not to a selfish reward, but to the mystery that we call "abundant life", experiencing our oneness with others and with God.

 

Just a few more thoughts on this interesting topic.

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