Posted by: gebs | May 3, 2008

Faith is not Knowledge

Faith is not knowledge.  When I use the term knowledge I am referring to the most empirically established opinion deemed correct.  I want to avoid the epistemological questions that arise here.  Take the knowledge that I am looking at a chair.  The argument goes like this: when I see a chair, I know it exists, because I can see it, and touch it.  My senses tell me that it is real.  What philosophers call empiricism.    


The knowledge which comes with faith is of a different nature and has its own unique mental infrastructure.   The mental framework that I use to indentify a chair is not identical with that one I use for God.  The object of faith is not merely the empirical.  The object of faith is mostly undefined.  The Christian spiritual tradition teaches that the two fruits of Christian prayer are the eyes to see and the ears to hear.  Faith brings with it its own mental framework of interpretation, a new hermeneutics, so to speak.  And this is one of the reasons why commentators in the atheist-believer debate often find it hard to communicate with each other.  We are dealing with two different objects of knowledge.      


Although an atheist may deny the existence of God, I think it is impossible to deny the existence of faith within human beings.  To do this would be to deny the existence of the very object one is disputing, to take away the enemy, so to speak, and hence leave nothing, or no one to dispute with.  The debate, however, is not whether or not faith exists, but rather whether or not it is something worth having.   




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