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Thread: A humble epistemology

  1. #1

    A humble epistemology

    I'm half expecting this thread to get buried as I'm not sure if people will be interested in it.

    For those who don't know, epistemology simply means, "the study of the nature knowledge in relation to how we gain it, how we understand it, and how we teach it." (my definition, very simple one)

    My question is - what do you think the Bible teaches on the issue. Does it teach that we are responsible for gaining knowledge or that all knowledge must be revealed to us?

    Any thoughts? And I'm quite sure this will need to be clarified (that is, if anyone even shows interest in the topic - this is one of my fields of study and I'm a very boring nerd, so it's possible that only I find this interesting).

  2. #2
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    Well I am for the most part uneducated by schooling but I do enjoy hearing about philosophy.

    How about Adam naming the animals. Did he understand a language we do not? Was he given a language or did he being inspired find out the names for himself?

    If he actually named them from his inspiration that would mean that we are flying by the seat of our pants ,so to speak.

    I think this is the major factor in change. That when problems arise we search out the knowledge to solve them. Because perhaps before the problem that specific knowledge was unnecessary or in other words noone cared. And the knowledge we apply to the problem causes change which often then requires more knowledge to work out the kinks.

    It's a bit like a snow ball rolling down a snowy hill I guess. Which perhaps starts out with a bit of revealed knowledge. Which causes a change. And for every problem that arises new knowledge is necessary to deal with the task at hand. Eventually becoming a giant snow boulder that is out of control.

    That is if there is a problem. Because where there is no problems (in my opinion) there is perfect knowledge which is able to properly apply itself to all tasks necessary for success.

    I think the bible focuses on how we use knowledge. And so teaches us to use knowledge in a wise manner. That is to give great respect to "sound" knowledge and try and keep it from getting out of control. Sound meaning not necessarily proven but whos results are positive toward the goal when properly used.

    I remember back a few years ago the whole "global warming" thing was in full swing. And hey I'm down with searching out what we don't know for sure. But thing is a single verse out of the bible always pops back in my head anytime I hear the conclusion that is drawn from the global warming fanatics.

    22While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

    Now this is a preety basic if you ask me. The seasons will remain.
    But just because this is plainly revealed in the bible doesn't mean that we will take it to heart.
    You might not believe it. In which case it has not been revealed to you but you refused it or were converted by theories of opposition.
    Or you might believe it totaly. In which case dwelling on a theory which concludes the opposite is indeed folly or if nothing else a check and test.
    This opposition is the cause of many problems.

    Also I think we can learn from the bible about how to properly use knowledge to form sound knowledge.
    That is to use knowledge in a sound fashion.

    For example I could say "if you don't drink clean water and eat proper food you it will affect your health".
    Which is known. but not sound.
    A more sound approach would be "if you drink clean water and eat proper food it can help you to survive".

    That is to say its possible because we know it is. But what we don't know is possible we cannot say because we can only go by what we do know. To often we hear people claiming something that isn't sound knowledge and to often to our confusion we listen.

    Believing in knowledge we find has to come with some sort of faith. Both in physical things and in ourself.
    For example we know we can't walk through walls thats obvious.
    But untill you try it is simply the faith that the knowledge is true that we go by.
    For all we know there is a wall that we can walk through leading to a place we ought to go or ought not to go.
    That is the knowledge that we do not know everything and perhaps for our own good at times.

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    OK, I'll bite.

    First off, I'm not a great philosopher so be gentle with me

    Certainly some things can clearly only be understood by divine revelation, such as this (all emphasis is mine):

    Mat 16:13-17 NKJV When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" (14) So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." (15) He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" (16) Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (17) Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

    Pro 2:1-6 NKJV My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, (2) So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; (3) Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, (4) If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; (5) Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. (6) For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
    24 August 2013 - I've decided to take a break from a number of internet forums, including this one, for my own reasons.
    I expect to be back at some time in the future, although at present don't know when that will be.
    I've been here just a few days shy of six years, and those six years have been greatly blessed.

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    1Jn 4:1 NKJV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
    1Th 5:21-22 NKJV Test all things; hold fast what is good. (22) Abstain from every form of evil.




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    Quote Originally Posted by apothanein kerdos View Post
    I'm half expecting this thread to get buried as I'm not sure if people will be interested in it.

    For those who don't know, epistemology simply means, "the study of the nature knowledge in relation to how we gain it, how we understand it, and how we teach it." (my definition, very simple one)

    My question is - what do you think the Bible teaches on the issue. Does it teach that we are responsible for gaining knowledge or that all knowledge must be revealed to us?

    Any thoughts? And I'm quite sure this will need to be clarified (that is, if anyone even shows interest in the topic - this is one of my fields of study and I'm a very boring nerd, so it's possible that only I find this interesting).
    I think it is a combination of both.

    This verse implies seeking:

    Pro 8:9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.


    This verse implies revelation:

    Deu 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever...

    Blessings

    and Popcorn


    "You can make the scriptures say whatever you want if you torture them long enough"

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    It's both AK. We seek it and learn and it is revealed and learned. How can we explain the color red to a man who has never seen? He only fully understands when his eyes are opened. Spiritual knowledge is revealed on some level. However, as quoted above, it is also learned as we seek it. The blind man can seek to understand what the color red looks like because of what others tell him.
    Last edited by Brother Mark; Mar 17th 2009 at 02:11 PM.
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    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

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    The biggest problem I have with epistemology is that the inference often appears to be that we can reason ourselves into anything, that gaining knowledge is the ultimate source of life. When I read your thread, the first thing that came to my mind was Philippians 2, where it says that "all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus". Wisdom and knowledge that leads to life is not found in reasoning, it is found in Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1 makes it clear that while Jews look for a sign and Greeks look for wisdom, God reveals the good news to the foolish. Colossians 2 asks where the philosopher and the debater of this age is, which makes me think that the Bible doesn't value knowledge the same way the world does. I don't think God is very interested in the science of epistemology.

    The critical point lies, I believe, in the nature of spiritual life and revelation. Revelation is per definition something that comes to us from outside ourselves. We cannot reason ourselves into revelation; we merely receive it. The only part we might play in receiving revelation is opening ourselves up to it. But spiritual life does not occur from ascertaining a set of facts we call knowledge; it does not come from a rational understanding of things. Spiritual life occurs when God reveals Himself to us and the glory of His Son fills our hearts and changes us from the inside out.

    Does that mean that seeking knowledge has no place? We are encouraged to study to show ourselves approved, the Bereans diligently studied the Word, and Paul certainly could not have written what he wrote without the training he received. Seeking knowledge has its place, but we need to be very careful about the value we place on it. Seeking rational knowledge will never produce life; seeking God will. Mind you, I am not advocating anti-intellectualism. I went to the most intellectual highschool the Netherlands has and graduated Valedictorian of my class in college; I'm familiar with the intellectual approach. But what good is all that reasoning and seeking knowledge. Paul counted it all as loss that He might know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering.
    Who have I in heaven but You oh God? Besides You, I desire nothing here on earth. My heart and my flesh may fail me, but God will be the strength of my heart and my portion forever...as for me, the nearness of God is my good - Psalm 73:25-26, 28a

    Check out my new blog at pilgrimtozion.blogspot.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrimtozion View Post
    The biggest problem I have with epistemology is that the inference often appears to be that we can reason ourselves into anything, that gaining knowledge is the ultimate source of life. When I read your thread, the first thing that came to my mind was Philippians 2, where it says that "all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus". Wisdom and knowledge that leads to life is not found in reasoning, it is found in Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1 makes it clear that while Jews look for a sign and Greeks look for wisdom, God reveals the good news to the foolish. Colossians 2 asks where the philosopher and the debater of this age is, which makes me think that the Bible doesn't value knowledge the same way the world does. I don't think God is very interested in the science of epistemology.

    The critical point lies, I believe, in the nature of spiritual life and revelation. Revelation is per definition something that comes to us from outside ourselves. We cannot reason ourselves into revelation; we merely receive it. The only part we might play in receiving revelation is opening ourselves up to it. But spiritual life does not occur from ascertaining a set of facts we call knowledge; it does not come from a rational understanding of things. Spiritual life occurs when God reveals Himself to us and the glory of His Son fills our hearts and changes us from the inside out.

    Does that mean that seeking knowledge has no place? We are encouraged to study to show ourselves approved, the Bereans diligently studied the Word, and Paul certainly could not have written what he wrote without the training he received. Seeking knowledge has its place, but we need to be very careful about the value we place on it. Seeking rational knowledge will never produce life; seeking God will. Mind you, I am not advocating anti-intellectualism. I went to the most intellectual highschool the Netherlands has and graduated Valedictorian of my class in college; I'm familiar with the intellectual approach. But what good is all that reasoning and seeking knowledge. Paul counted it all as loss that He might know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering.
    I don't think it could be said better. Good post!
    "What you do does not define who you are; it's who you are that defines what you do."

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    My heartfelt prayer is that this thread is not a battle for one side or the other but one that shows the perfect harmony that is found in this and every other topic really.

    I'm half expecting this thread to get buried as I'm not sure if people will be interested in it.
    I certainly hope it does not.

    My question is - what do you think the Bible teaches on the issue. Does it teach that we are responsible for gaining knowledge or that all knowledge must be revealed to us?
    How could we not have a part in the responsibility for knowledge gained both through revelation and though physical evidence? Just as we will not learn much about life sitting in a cave secluded from the world we will not have much revealed to us without seeking and asking God to do so in a personal relationship with Him. I believe these two scriptures are a good example of the same man speaking both of seeking and receiving knowledge.

    And Solomon said to God: "You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. Now, O Lord God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?" And God said to Solomon: "Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life--but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king-- wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like." (2Ch 1:8-12 NKJV)

    And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, And what is lacking cannot be numbered. I communed with my heart, saying, "Look, I have attained greatness, and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge." And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind. For in much wisdom is much grief, And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. (Ecc 1:13-18 NKJV)

    Any thoughts?
    Too many to write down

    First thing I thought of was the differences in the Body of Christ. I would say there are parts of the body that God reveals things to more than others that find things through study. My terms are lacking full clarity but I trust I am being understood. I myself have a "logical brain" and enjoy going over evidence to the finest detail seeing things in lists of information. My buddy has an "artistic brain" and could not be bothered with the things I find interesting yet sees thing "in pictures" I don't. Together we can help each other understand things with more clarity just as both sight and sound grant a fuller understanding of a situation. I can not make him be like me.

    I don't think it is a one way or the other thing but a personal thing that has to do with how God has formed our person. That has to do with the path He has prepared for us.

    I part of this topic I would ask a question on witnessing to others.

    Do I tell the person they will understand nothing if God does not reveal it to them so they have nothing to do with finding Him?

    Do I tell them to seek out the evidence that can be found in the creation, history and read the testimony of real men in the bible?

    Can we really make a split like it is one way or the other? I say the two work in an inseparable manor.

    Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (Joh 3:9-12 NKJV)

    Peace,
    Joe



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    I forgot my question I wanted to put forth in here.

    Is there any revealed knowledge that will not be in perfect, logical agreement with the scriptures?

  10. #10
    Zach, my apologies but I'm not quite sure I understand what you're getting at...

    Tango,
    First off, I'm not a great philosopher so be gentle with me
    Actually, that's why I posted that in here. Due to my own theory on epistemology, I believe that Christians who are growing in Christ in all aspects of life can often make far more sense and speak more truth on philosophical matters than atheists with PhDs.

    Mat 16:13-17 NKJV When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" (14) So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." (15) He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" (16) Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (17) Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

    Pro 2:1-6 NKJV My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, (2) So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; (3) Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, (4) If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; (5) Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. (6) For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
    This is what I've been wondering. I've seen some Christians (such as Augustine) use this to say that ALL knowledge is illuminated by the Lord. Thus, you don't know 2+2=4 because your math teacher taught that to you, but because the Lord chose to illuminate that knowledge to you.

    The problem, to me, is such an application of Scripture tends to remove all responsibility of learning off of us. If we have difficulty learning a subject, we can simply say, "God didn't want me to know it" and move on. Likewise, when people don't come to Christ or refuse to listen to the Gospel, we can say, "God has not illuminated such knowledge to that person," meaning God is responsible for the person's rejection and not the person.

    At the same time, certain knowledge HAS to be revealed by God. After all, that's what the Bible is. Without it, the most we could rationally deduct is that there is a God and that we're fallen - outside of that, we could know nothing of God unless He revealed it.

    So it's quite perplexing. I'm working on my own theory, but it's not developed enough to even present right now.

    Shepherd,
    I think it is a combination of both.

    This verse implies seeking:

    Pro 8:9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

    This verse implies revelation:

    Deu 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever...
    That's where I tend to lean - but how does it work in that manner? More importantly, how do we show that some knowledge is actually implanted within us, a priori, thus showing the evidence for a God? After all, evolution can't create a priori knowledge.

    mark,
    It's both AK. We seek it and learn and it is revealed and learned. How can we explain the color red to a man who has never seen? He only fully understands when his eyes are opened. Spiritual knowledge is revealed on some level. However, as quoted above, it is also learned as we seek it. The blind man can seek to understand what the color red looks like because of what others tell him.
    But does this mean all knowledge is merely experiential? Or can we know some basic things a priori without experiencing it? In other words, even if a blind man doesn't know what "redness" is, could he know - a priori - that such a thing as colors exist?

    Pilgrim,

    The biggest problem I have with epistemology is that the inference often appears to be that we can reason ourselves into anything, that gaining knowledge is the ultimate source of life.
    I think that's a drastic misunderstanding of what epistemology is. As I stated, it merely studies how we know things and how we come to know this things. What you're referring to falls under the branch of Cartesian epistemology, which comes from Descartes' "I think, therefore I am" dictum. In this, and all epistemological systems that followed, reasoning began with humanity.

    However, there are multiple other branches where the reasoning doesn't begin autonomously with man. Reformed epistemology, Warranted epistemology, critical realism, illumination, and many, many, many other forms.

    When I read your thread, the first thing that came to my mind was Philippians 2, where it says that "all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus". Wisdom and knowledge that leads to life is not found in reasoning, it is found in Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1 makes it clear that while Jews look for a sign and Greeks look for wisdom, God reveals the good news to the foolish. Colossians 2 asks where the philosopher and the debater of this age is, which makes me think that the Bible doesn't value knowledge the same way the world does. I don't think God is very interested in the science of epistemology.
    A very low view of the intellect, which the Bible does actually value...

    1 Peter 3:15 tells us to use reason and evidence to defend our faith, which the word used for hope/faith is the same Greek word used for rationality. God tells the Jews to come reason with Him, showing that reasoning plays a huge role in the life of a believer. Jesus said that the greatest commandment includes loving God with all of our mind - the word used is, again, the same Greek word that is used to refer to the rationality of a person.

    In fact, it would appear that God is speaking out against autonomous reason, which isn't reason at all.

    So it seems that reason actually plays a huge role in knowledge and that our rationalizing capabilities aid us in coming to salvation. Now, this isn't the ONLY aspect that aids in our understanding of God, but it certainly seems to be a necessary one. A necessary act, but not sufficient.

    The critical point lies, I believe, in the nature of spiritual life and revelation. Revelation is per definition something that comes to us from outside ourselves. We cannot reason ourselves into revelation; we merely receive it.
    That's not entirely true. Before I can accept divine revelation we have to believe that such revelation is possible. In other words, we look at how rational it is to believe that God exists. If we can at least accept He exists, then we are open to Divine revelation.

    Does that make sense?

    The only part we might play in receiving revelation is opening ourselves up to it. But spiritual life does not occur from ascertaining a set of facts we call knowledge; it does not come from a rational understanding of things. Spiritual life occurs when God reveals Himself to us and the glory of His Son fills our hearts and changes us from the inside out.
    Again, if this is true then I have to wonder what Jesus mean. It seems Jesus says that a rational life is a necessary component of living a spiritual life, but not a sufficient component.

    Does that mean that seeking knowledge has no place? We are encouraged to study to show ourselves approved, the Bereans diligently studied the Word, and Paul certainly could not have written what he wrote without the training he received. Seeking knowledge has its place, but we need to be very careful about the value we place on it. Seeking rational knowledge will never produce life; seeking God will. Mind you, I am not advocating anti-intellectualism. I went to the most intellectual highschool the Netherlands has and graduated Valedictorian of my class in college; I'm familiar with the intellectual approach. But what good is all that reasoning and seeking knowledge. Paul counted it all as loss that He might know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering.
    Knowing you're from the Netherlands actually helps me understand where you're coming from on this issue.

    What I would propose and ask you is this - can one have a spiritual life without having a rational understanding of Christianity? If you say yes, then again, we have quite a few Scriptures to look at. If you say no, then I think we should look at the alternative; rational knowledge is a necessary, but not sufficient component of having a walk with Christ.

    Walstib,

    How could we not have a part in the responsibility for knowledge gained both through revelation and though physical evidence? Just as we will not learn much about life sitting in a cave secluded from the world we will not have much revealed to us without seeking and asking God to do so in a personal relationship with Him. I believe these two scriptures are a good example of the same man speaking both of seeking and receiving knowledge.
    Nothing more I can really add to that! I agree completely.

    First thing I thought of was the differences in the Body of Christ. I would say there are parts of the body that God reveals things to more than others that find things through study. My terms are lacking full clarity but I trust I am being understood. I myself have a "logical brain" and enjoy going over evidence to the finest detail seeing things in lists of information. My buddy has an "artistic brain" and could not be bothered with the things I find interesting yet sees thing "in pictures" I don't. Together we can help each other understand things with more clarity just as both sight and sound grant a fuller understanding of a situation. I can not make him be like me.
    Completely understand what you're saying. Some of us are designed to read deep philosophical works and not only understand it, but enjoy it. We can take these works and break them down, making them applicable for the believers - these are the teachers, the ones who can help guard and guide the flock (even if they aren't pastors).

    There are others who love music. They know all the different notes, composers, what sounds good together, and so on. They know how to compose music, the science of music, the art of music, and spent countless hours studying it. But they can then compose an absolutely artistic song to God that both God and man can appreciate.

    Each of us certainly has different gifts and I hope it doesn't come across like I'm saying everyone has to have a deep level of study on this stuff. I know for me it's my calling. However, some of the stuff I've had to read I wouldn't wish on most Christians, or even my worst enemies. But I do think we should have a minimal understanding of how things work. I know you probably weren't accusing me of that, but I just wanted to offer a clarification.

    Do I tell the person they will understand nothing if God does not reveal it to them so they have nothing to do with finding Him?

    Do I tell them to seek out the evidence that can be found in the creation, history and read the testimony of real men in the bible?

    Can we really make a split like it is one way or the other? I say the two work in an inseparable manor.
    I agree with that 100%. I believe it's both/and. Of course, there's a lot of nuanced detail that goes into that, but that's what a dissertation is for...and that's a long way off.

    Is there any revealed knowledge that will not be in perfect, logical agreement with the scriptures?
    Well, my view is this: there isn't any true knowledge, period, that will not perfectly align with Scripture. Scripture, in my opinion, is purely revealed by God and true on all issues it touches. So if we want to know if something is true, we line it up next to Scripture. I would even say this goes with mathematics in a broad sense - how do we know we can trust mathematics? Because our God is a God of order and math is a way to order certain aspects of the universe.

    I believe that all true knowledge has to be founded upon Scripture - but I think even the lost can gain true knowledge in a limited capacity. They can go only as far as their "natural knowledge" allows them. After that, they must rely on revelation - but I agree with you, such revelation doesn't mean the rational part of our minds is shut off, just that they've been opened to a whole knew world of truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by apothanein kerdos View Post
    My question is - what do you think the Bible teaches on the issue. Does it teach that we are responsible for gaining knowledge or that all knowledge must be revealed to us?
    I'm having trouble recalling anything specific. However I'd say practically its got to be both: knowledge must be gained and knowledge must be revealed.

    To say it all requires divine revelation takes responsibility away from people. "Oh, I didn't know, so you can't blame me. Wasn't the holy spirit supposed to tell me?"

    To say it all requires gain opens the door to both pride and the elimination of mystery.

    Make sense?

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    Quote Originally Posted by apothanein kerdos View Post
    mark,


    But does this mean all knowledge is merely experiential? Or can we know some basic things a priori without experiencing it? In other words, even if a blind man doesn't know what "redness" is, could he know - a priori - that such a thing as colors exist?
    True. One can know such a color exist, but he won't understand. He'll have some vague, very vague, idea that there is something more to know but be completely oblivious to what that might be. To me, it is the difference in knowing about God and knowing God. Let me give an illustration. We can study all about Abraham Lincoln and know about him with our natural mind. But that doesn't mean that we know Abraham Lincoln.

    Without experiencing God, one cannot properly know God.

    I am not knocking knowledge for it has it's place. I am just saying our brain is not THE key to intimacy with God, it is only part of the key.
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

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    Quote Originally Posted by apothanein kerdos View Post
    I'm half expecting this thread to get buried as I'm not sure if people will be interested in it.

    For those who don't know, epistemology simply means, "the study of the nature knowledge in relation to how we gain it, how we understand it, and how we teach it." (my definition, very simple one)

    My question is - what do you think the Bible teaches on the issue. Does it teach that we are responsible for gaining knowledge or that all knowledge must be revealed to us?

    Any thoughts? And I'm quite sure this will need to be clarified (that is, if anyone even shows interest in the topic - this is one of my fields of study and I'm a very boring nerd, so it's possible that only I find this interesting).
    "But where can wisdom be found?
    Where does understanding dwell?

    Man does not comprehend its worth;
    it cannot be found in the land of the living.
    The deep says, 'It is not in me';
    the sea says, 'It is not with me.'
    It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
    nor can its price be weighed in silver.
    It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
    with precious onyx or sapphires.
    Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,
    nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
    Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;
    the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
    The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;
    it cannot be bought with pure gold.
    "Where then does wisdom come from?
    Where does understanding dwell?
    It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
    concealed even from the birds of the air.
    Destruction and Death say,
    'Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.'
    God understands the way to it
    and he alone knows where it dwells,
    for he views the ends of the earth
    and sees everything under the heavens.
    When he established the force of the wind
    and measured out the waters,
    when he made a decree for the rain
    and a path for the thunderstorm,
    then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
    he confirmed it and tested it. And he said to man,
    'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
    and to shun evil is understanding.' "
    Job 28:12-28

    To fear or revere the Lord begins our acquisition of wisdom. It seems a somewhat natural inclination of man as we receive a hint of this in Genesis...

    "...At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD."
    Genesis 4:26

    With God being of perfect efficiency, I would think He would begin our quest for knowledge and understanding by equipping us with the instruments to gain more knowledge using what we knew previously. In other words, He teaches us to fish instead of giving us a fish at every meal. So as He provides us with a start, we indeed would be responsible to gain more. A similar principle is seen in the talent parable and the sower parable. Whether the parables can be applied to the topic of knowledge will be argued by some.

    Non-Christians may argue that there are plenty of intellectuals who acquired their knowledge without God. To this, I would counter that they actually didn't. Their quest for knowledge began when they contemplated the nature of things which I believe is a form of seeking the one God whether one credits God or not. They looked around and wondered at the order seen in all things because God " established [his] covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth" (Jeremiah 33:25). Somewhere along the way, they felt good about their supply of knowledge enough to despise God who set them on their way. So, while some credit themselves with being wise/smart/learned, the reality is without God they wouldn't be.

    I'll humbly offer these points, but I realize knowledge, wisdom, and understanding are defined differently and do not necessarily allow themselves to used as interchangeable terms. There also seem to be certain types of knowledge such as the "mysteries" mentioned by Paul which depend entirely upon divine revelation.
    "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?'
    And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"
    Isaiah 6:8

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by apothanein kerdos View Post
    I'm half expecting this thread to get buried as I'm not sure if people will be interested in it.

    For those who don't know, epistemology simply means, "the study of the nature knowledge in relation to how we gain it, how we understand it, and how we teach it." (my definition, very simple one)

    My question is - what do you think the Bible teaches on the issue. Does it teach that we are responsible for gaining knowledge or that all knowledge must be revealed to us?

    Any thoughts? And I'm quite sure this will need to be clarified (that is, if anyone even shows interest in the topic - this is one of my fields of study and I'm a very boring nerd, so it's possible that only I find this interesting).
    Hello nerd.

    I think the bible teaches us some things about this. Of course it's not all in one place clearly written out as epistemology. But read some of the early fathers and how they presented the subject. Or maybe you have. Ie. The Three Degrees of Knowledge according to St Isaac the Syrian and Knowledge of God according to St Gregory Palamas

    Presentation, in this subject, is essential IMHO.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by apothanein kerdos View Post
    Zach, my apologies but I'm not quite sure I understand what you're getting at...

    Tango,

    Actually, that's why I posted that in here. Due to my own theory on epistemology, I believe that Christians who are growing in Christ in all aspects of life can often make far more sense and speak more truth on philosophical matters than atheists with PhDs.

    This is what I've been wondering. I've seen some Christians (such as Augustine) use this to say that ALL knowledge is illuminated by the Lord. Thus, you don't know 2+2=4 because your math teacher taught that to you, but because the Lord chose to illuminate that knowledge to you.

    The problem, to me, is such an application of Scripture tends to remove all responsibility of learning off of us. If we have difficulty learning a subject, we can simply say, "God didn't want me to know it" and move on. Likewise, when people don't come to Christ or refuse to listen to the Gospel, we can say, "God has not illuminated such knowledge to that person," meaning God is responsible for the person's rejection and not the person.

    At the same time, certain knowledge HAS to be revealed by God. After all, that's what the Bible is. Without it, the most we could rationally deduct is that there is a God and that we're fallen - outside of that, we could know nothing of God unless He revealed it.

    So it's quite perplexing. I'm working on my own theory, but it's not developed enough to even present right now.
    I think we need to draw a distinction between natural knowledge and divine revelation. If I were to meet you I would know, for instance, that you are wearing a blue shirt (I'm going to use such a mundane example simply for reference). Likewise I can know that 2+2 = 4 because I attended maths classes when I was 5 years old. I can know by observation that if I drop a vase on the ground it will break. I can know by experience that buying a lottery ticket does not usually result in overnight wealth. All these things are earthly, and can therefore be determined by earthly means.

    Things that are divine, or things that cannot be known by earthly means, require revelation as opposed to knowledge. For the sake of example let's say it's sinful to wear blue socks (I use this somewhat surreal example purely so as not to appear accusatory where real sins are concerned). I may observe your socks through normal earthly means and therefore know you are sinning, which is natural. However, if you were wearing wellington boots and long trousers I couldn't possibly know through earthly means what socks you were wearing, but may know through divine revelation. So in that situation I may be sent to warn you to turn from your sinful ways even though I couldn't possibly have known by earthly means that you had that hidden sin in your life.

    So I think it's safe to say that earthly knowledge can be acquired by earthly means, but divine revelation requires a divine provision.
    24 August 2013 - I've decided to take a break from a number of internet forums, including this one, for my own reasons.
    I expect to be back at some time in the future, although at present don't know when that will be.
    I've been here just a few days shy of six years, and those six years have been greatly blessed.

    ---

    1Jn 4:1 NKJV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
    1Th 5:21-22 NKJV Test all things; hold fast what is good. (22) Abstain from every form of evil.




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