Sunday, July 26, 2009

Faith and Knowledge

I was just thinking about epistemology while trying to fend off the ill-formed thoughts of a grammatically challenged teenager when the following insight occured to me: all epistemology boils down to what you believe about your own experience with reality.

What does that imply for all our dramatic attempts at truth-claims? What does it say for religious systems? What does it do for the sanctity of scientific methodology? And does that mean that all of us, like I've stressed before, operate from a foundational assumption of faith; that knowledge itself assumes a faith base?


sarah said...

In this discussion will we consider faith synonymous with belief? Some would say that the former is the result of the latter, which is a choice; others would say that the latter results from the former, neither being a choice.

If I were to discuss this, I would use the words belief and perception and leave faith as a tangential issue. I think this may be more in line with the realities you probably want to explore, but I'm open to having completely missed your intention; it wouldn't be the first time. ;)

Anonymous said...

And I would like to throw something out to consider: that faith does not really belong to us ... it is a gift that comes from God.
In that moment we receive that gift, faith is given.
I believe that faith itself is a gift and not synonymous with belief, necessarily (have I left enough loopholes here?).
I know there is a difference, although it's hard to put your finger on.
There is a supernatural infusion in faith.
Without belief, how can we have faith?
Fending off my ferocious dog ...

Anonymous said...

"…all epistemology boils down to what you believe about your own experience with reality"
Okay. You've wandered into that well charted but oft under visited realm of what is reality? I've checked into that hotel once or twice, and always manage to freak myself out. I mean, honestly, am I really here or am I just a figment of your imagination. Are my beliefs about God based in my perceptions of God, or are my perceptions of God based in my beliefs of God. I think I've lost myself here… I do appreciate Sarah's suggestion that the use of the word "perception" is probably more useful then "faith" if what we are hoping to discuss is the experience of our reality in relation to what we perceive as truth, whether religious or scientific or whatever. My beliefs do not always result in faith, therefor, to me at least, my faith is more of a perception of what I think is true. What I believe is true may not be completely quantifiable, making it, I think and act of faith. Ouch.
There is quite a powerful Star Trek Next Generation episode in which a holodeck representation of Sherlock Holmes' nemesis, Professor Moriarity, is brought to "life" through a freak accident. The question of the nature of his existence, his morality, what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his character to be, all fall under the holo Moriarity's scrutiny. In the end, Moriarity chooses to defy what Doyle predestined him to be, becoming instead a person of good character. His current experience with his current reality caused him to believe and act upon a new perception about himself that Doyle did not intend.
I'm lost again, I think. Do you see what I mean? This is such heady stuff that it requires a life-long journey of pursuing philosophical thought.
Time for an aspirin,

Anonymous said...

Boy ... I blinked and so much has transpired here.
Faith ... oh boy ...
I'll dive in: I believe that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. That is how God changes me/us. But there is a supernatural element in that as well; it is not simply "the power of positive thinking".
I am lazy tonight or I would look for this verse. I will tomorrow ... too late and too hot tonight.
The verse basically says that the faith that we have is that of the Son of God, and not our own.
I do believe that there is a supernatural infusion that takes place that moment/instant we believe/receive the gift that is offered.
How it happens, I have no idea. Like the wind, His Spirit comes and we are changed "in the twinkling of an eye" for all eternity.
But growing and changing/being transformed ... is another matter altogether. I don't believe that He changes us against our will, but with our co-operation. We are "partners" in that transformation. We take the smallest steps and we are changed.
That is why I have great faith in what God can do in people's lives. Not only have I seen it, but I have also experienced it first-hand (thank God!).
Perception ... hmm
What I perceive/believe about God affects how I live my life, which affects how I change, which ...

Anonymous said...

The verse I was thinking about last night was Galations 2:20. And here is an article on faith that you might find interesting: