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Faith and Knowing

Many have the assumption that having faith is to be blindly following, hoping, and believing something without proof. Some hold on to the notion that if you are a person of faith, you are of little intelligence, close minded, and do not support scientific findings.

However, the truth is that faith and knowing go hand in hand.

In fact, you could say that Faith in the one true God, holds the key to knowing.

The idea of whether or not faith and knowing support one another or if faith is the absence of knowing really boils down to two important questions:

  1. Does our mind have the ability to know things outside of it?
  2. Is the world real and does it have features that are knowable?

We each already have our own answers to these questions, but let’s take a look at what our answer to those questions really means in the big picture. In order to do this effectively, we have to take a look at the different options of viewing these very important ideas.

Naturalism

Closely related to materialism, naturalism is the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.

Naturalism says that the mind is an accidental byproduct of a mindless process, and the universe is random interactions of matter flying through space.

If this is true– than there is no basis for confidence that our minds are intelligent, and the world is knowable.

Materialism

Materialism in philosophy terms, is a form of philosophical monism which holds matter to be the fundamental substance in nature, and all things, including mental states and consciousness, are results of material interactions.

Materialism in essence is that the world and our brains are just random atoms bouncing around causing everything to happen without any pattern or reason.

Arthur Schopenhauer says, “Materialism is the philosophy of the subject who forget to take account of himself.”

J.B.S. Haldane says, “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true… and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

By their own philosophical views there is no reason to rely on this thought pattern because our brains can’t know anything outside of itself if it really is just random atoms bouncing around.

Karl Marx- Marxism

There is much to read and study about Karl Marx and his philosophies, however at the core of Marx’s reductionism is that he claimed that the world is split into two classes and that economic structures dictated all ideas about truth.

If this is true, then Marx himself was only spitting out accidental byproducts of his own economic setting and had no basis in rationality or truth.

Sigmund Freud- Wishful Thinking

Sigmund Freud claimed that unconscious urges out of our control is what dominates our mind.

Freud’s philosophy is that everything is determined by hidden causes in the person’s mind, and so they reveal in covert form what would otherwise not be known at all. This suggests the view that freedom of the will is, if not completely an illusion, certainly more tightly circumscribed than is commonly believed, for it follows from this, that whenever we make a choice, we are governed by hidden mental processes of which we are unaware and over which we have no control.

If Freud’s reductionism is correct, that thinking is nothing besides mental states prompted by wishes (uncontrollable urges), and his own theory is simply wishful thinking.

Friedrich Nietzsche- Will to Power

Nietzsche reductionism said that claims about truth and morality are just expressions of someone’s agenda and their desire to control things outside themselves. Human thinking does not aim for truth but merely expresses this will to power.

If this is true, Nietzsche philosophy is merely his expression of will to power and is not actually truth.

Charles Darwin- Evolution

Charles Darwin is known for the Theory of Evolution which is the widely held notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor: the birds and the bananas, the fish and the flowers — all related.

Darwin’s general theory presumes the development of life from non-life and stresses a purely naturalistic (undirected) “descent with modification”.

That is, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism’s genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival — a process known as “natural selection.”

These beneficial mutations are passed on to the next generation. Over time, beneficial mutations accumulate and the result is an entirely different organism (not just a variation of the original, but an entirely different creature).
(Darwin’s Theory Of Evolution (darwins-theory-of-evolution.com)

According to Darwin our minds are an accidental byproduct of a mindless process– a randomly evolved piece of meat with various electrical impulses within it.

Charles Darwin is quoted in saying, “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of a man’s mind… are of any value or at all truthworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind.”

Darwin questions his own philosophy, pointing out what value would there be in trusting in the convictions of a monkey’s mind.


Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true?

C.S. Lewis

It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.

C.S. Lewis

Knowing reality outside of us

We know that intelligence exists because people have faculties for knowing things outside ourselves. Faculties such as senses, memories, introspection, sympathy, credulity, induction, reasoning, conscience, and a God-sense.

We know that the world is intelligible and knowable because the world and other persons in it can be known.

Mathematics, science, history, and more all support faith in the one true God.

How can it be that mathematics.. is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?

Albert Einstein

Science cannot stand alone. We cannot believe its propostitions without first believing in a great many other startlin things, such as the existence of the external world, the reliability of our sense, memory and informants, and the validity of logic. If we do believe these things, we already have a world far wider than that of science.

Mary Midgley

The Source of the world, knowledge, and understanding

God created the world and all that is in it. He established the whole world by His wisdom.

Source of the world

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

He has made the earth by His power,
He has established the world by His wisdom,
And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion. Jeremiah 10:12, Jeremiah 51:15

Eternal Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John’s Witness: The True Light

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The Word Becomes Flesh

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-14

Source of understanding

God is our source of understanding. Without first having the groundwork of faith and knowing God personally, a person cannot have true understanding of the world, how it works, or anything in it.

You cannot have understanding, if you cut off the source that pours it into you.

For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; Proverbs 2:6

And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding Daniel 2:21

29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. 1 Kings 4:29

Source and beginning of knowledge

In Job 38 God reveals his omnipotence to Job.

Who has put wisdom in the mind?
Or who has given understanding to the heart? Job 38:36

But there is a spirit in man,
And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. Job 32:8

Proverbs 1 explains to us the beginning of knowledge and how without God you cannot truly be confident in knowing.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

God gives us our minds, our knowledge, and our understanding. He created the world and all that is in it. Our world, its features, and all of us that are in it are knowable and our mind has full ability to know things outside of it.

Earlier in this article I mentioned that one way we can be sure that the world and others are knowable is because God created us to have faculties for knowing.

  • Senses- see, hear, smell, taste, touch
  • Memory- recalling events and experiences
  • Introspection: knowing things about my inner state
  • Sympathy- awareness of what others think, feel, and believe
  • Credulity: believing what others tell us
  • Induction: expecting the future to be like the past in some sense, learning from experience
  • Reason- grasping truths that are prior to, or independent, of experience (basic math 2+1=3, simple logic if all cats have whiskers, and Princess is a cat, Princess has whiskers.)
  • Conscience: sense of right and wrong
  • God-sense: awe at divine reality

Most people can acknowledge that the above faculties exist, with the exception of the God-sense. Those that have no relationship with the Lord or have never read the Bible may not be aware of their God-sense or they could be suppressing or denying it.

How can we be sure we have a God-sense?

Well, besides the above faculties of knowing and the information we can gather from using them faculties’, the fact that we all have this looming feeling that something is missing from our life is one of the biggest confirmations of our God-sense.

Let’s see what the Bible tell us that can help us to understand, accept, and embrace our God-sense.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord,
Searching all the inner depths of his heart. Proverbs 20:27

 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, Ephesians 1:18

19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, Romans 1:19-20

The Bible also talks about suppressing the God sense. When we suppress the God sense it distorts our faculties and destroys any real basis for confidence in our knowledge of anything.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,….
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, Romans 1:18,21-22

The fool has said in his heart,
There is no God.”
They are corrupt,
They have done abominable works,
There is none who does good. Psalm 14:1, 53:1

There is no fear of God before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes, Psalm 36

Faith and knowing go hand in hand.

All the realities we know about began with God–He is the source of all realities, patterns. and purposes. Our ability to know anything begins with God–He created us, our mental faculties, and pours out knowledge and understanding. Jesus is the eternal Logos(reason/rationality), the logic of the world and the light of human intellect.

Ignoring God or suppressing the truth about Him and His creations does not change the fact that he is the source of it all, it simply darkens and distorts reality and knowledge.

For someone to hold the idea that a person of faith is ‘blindly’ following, hoping, and believing in something without knowledge and proof or to hold on to the notions that they are unintelligent, close minded, and non-supporters of science; is in and of itself an admission of foolishness.

The Bible tells us that fools despise knowledge, that the fool says in his heart there is no God, that the hearts of the foolish are darkened, and men by their unrighteousness suppress the truth– they claim to be wise and become fools.

Faith and knowing go hand and hand.

Without faith in the one true God, mankind cuts themselves off from the fountain of knowledge and truth, suppressing the God sense, and distorting our other faculties of knowing. Giving us no real basis for confidence in anything that we think we know.

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