How do we know anything?
What is necessary and sufficient for an ignorant person to acquire knowledge?
How much knowledge can we acquire?
How reliable is that knowledge?
The investigation into The Nature of Knowledge or the Nature of Knowing, is one of the fundamental disciplines in philosophy, and its technical name is Epistemology.
IF YOU DO NOT KNOW
THE NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE
HOW CAN YOU BE SURE
THAT YOU KNOW ANYTHING?
There are only Three things we can know about knowing.
1- MEANS: How do we Acquire Knowledge?
2- LIMITS: The Quantity of our Knowledge
3- RELIABILITY: The Quality of our Knowledge
(It cannot be shouted loud enough!)
That is, if we want to add information to that which we already have, we must exercise FAITH.
There are no exceptions to this rule. If we want to know, we must first believe.
It does not matter how intelligent or educated one is, the only path to knowing is BELIEVING. The Theist and the atheist, the genius and the dull, the wise and the fool, the young or the old, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, MUST FIRST BELIEVE, if they want to know.
BUT every act of faith needs an Object of Faith.
That is, when we believe, we must believe in something or someone. When we believe, we are placing our trust in something or someone.
We can classify all Objects of Faith into Three groups:
1- FAITH IN THINGS- All objects, living and non-living, other than people or God, we will call Things. Faith in Things helps us to learn about objects around us so that we can deal with difficulties that we encounter and to live more productive and comfortable lives. A small portion of this type of information is collected and classified as SCIENCE. It is the result of experiences, particularly experiences repeatable at will, which are called Controlled Experiments. The Controlled Experiments that scientists really desire are unobtainable ideals, but we will humor them and pretend that there are such things.
Since SCIENCE has become the god of this age, we must deal with it as a separate category. In the past, Science had a much wider meaning, and simply meant Knowledge. But since the Scientific Revolution and the advances in modern technology, its meaning has narrowed. Many people have come to believe that knowledge acquired outside of Experimental Science is unreliable information, when in fact just the opposite is the case. We have been blinded by man-made tools that have made our lives so comfortable and productive and filled our lives with terror.
2- FAITH IN PEOPLE- Other people, whether living or dead, whether we know them personally or not, are our objects of faith when we want to learn about experiences of other people. A small portion of this type of information that has been recorded in reliable records is called HISTORY. This group of information includes records and reports of Unique, Unrepeatable events such as births, wars, deaths, etc.
3- FAITH IN GOD- If we believe that God is able to communicate with people, then the knowledge we acquire thru Faith in God is called REVELATION.
SCIENCE- The information that we can obtain from things is very limited. The objects with which we interact are very few and even in a long lifetime, our experiences are extremely limited. Out of all the possible information that is potentially available, Science is the most limited.
HISTORY- This method of obtaining information is much wider and can give us information about events and objects that we could never experience on our own. The famous phrase, “the test of time”, though much ignored, is still valid.
REVELATION- This path to knowledge is potentially the most compelling, because the Creator can give us knowledge about things and events and Himself, that we could never experience.
SCIENCE- Scientists try to coax information out of objects that are incapable of communicating in words. They rely upon repeated experiences or experiments, and must constantly revise their theories as their experiences expand. Scientists make Inductions, or generalizations from a necessarily LIMITED number of experiences. In Science, we can never be sure that we have any Truth because we cannot have the infinite number of experiences necessary to know for sure. Furthermore, our Object of Faith is a universe that is subject to decay, constant change and is extremely complex. In fact, Science is impotent to arrive at any Truth whatsoever. It is a useful method to deal with objects around us, but we do not need final Truth about the world to deal with our problems. Just as a hammer or a knife does not have to be perfect to be useful, the Science of the scientist is never perfect but can be very useful in organizing our experiences. Information that we acquire through our fallible senses, by placing our faith on a fallible universe, can Never lead to infallible knowledge.
HISTORY- Historical information is more reliable, because after many years of observation and testing, we can eliminate errors that at first we believed to be valid information.
REVELATION- Revelation is the most reliable source of knowledge, because the Object of Faith is God Himself. He is the sole source of Truth, omniscient and completely trustworthy. We are at His mercy for revealed knowledge, and must admit that we are utterly incapable of probing into His acts or His thoughts.
There are many incorrect Epistemologies. They are too numerous to mention. They have misled people for centuries and continue to do so.
MEANS- ALL KNOWLEDGE IS ACQUIRED THRU FAITH
SCIENCE- FAITH IN THINGS
HISTORY- FAITH IN PEOPLE
REVELATION- FAITH IN GOD
LIMITS- THE QUANTITY OF OUR KNOWLEDGE
SCIENCE- EVENTS THAT ARE REPEATABLE AT WILL
HISTORY- EVENTS WITNESSED & RECORDED BY PEOPLE
REVELATION- EVERY EVENT THAT HAS EVER TAKEN PLACE AND KNOWLEDGE ABOUT GOD HIMSELF
RELIABILITY- THE QUALITY OF OUR KNOWLEDGE
SCIENCE- LEAST RELIABLE
HISTORY- MORE RELIABLE
REVELATION- MOST RELIABLE- THE ONLY SOURCE OF TRUTH
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