Faith and Knowledge

Aristotle included faith as one of the three sources of knowledge. I present a detailed description of these three sources in Book One and The Foundation of Belief in The Cabana Chronicles series of books on comparative religion and apologetics. While I agree with Aristotle (normally that’s a smart thing to do), I believe faith is much more than just another source of knowledge like tradition and reason.

We Christians rely on our God-given faith to believe the Bible is His Word. In this way, faith acts as our source of knowledge. But our biblical faith is trust based on knowledge supported by reason because the Bible provides us with the evidence for our belief. You could say that our faith is based on knowledge grounded in evidence. Atheists dispute our claim and, as Mark Twain once said, “Faith is believing in something you know ain’t true.”

Author Greg Koukl says that  “Given the clear teaching of Scripture, it’s astonishing that some atheists mischaracterize the relationship between faith and knowledge. For example, philosopher Peter Boghossian defines faith as “pretending to know what you don’t know” in his book A Manual for Creating Atheists. For Boghossian—and many other so-called “street epistemologists”—faith is a way of knowing. In philosophy, this is called epistemology.

However, faith is not an epistemology. Responding to Boghossian in his weekly podcast, Reasonable Faith, philosopher William Lane Craig said,

This is so fundamental. This is a watershed. He [Boghossian] says that faith is an unreliable epistemology. He wants to make faith an epistemological category instead of a moral virtue. It is right there that we need to dig in our heels and say this is a misunderstanding of faith. Faith is not an epistemological category…. Faith is a way of trusting something. Faith is trusting in that which you have reason to believe is true. So it is once you have come to believe that something is true using reliable epistemological means that you can then place your faith or trust in that thing. To do so is a virtue.

So faith and knowledge are connected, but they are not the same thing. They are in completely different categories. Faith is not a way of knowing. Rather, faith is a way of trusting in what you know to be true.”


2 thoughts on “Faith and Knowledge

  1. Faith is not a way of knowing. Rather, faith is a way of trusting in what you know to be true.” . . . .

    or could it be “in what you NEED to believe that truth is and not merely perceived in the first place? . . .

    I have complete faith in the physical death of the human body, other than that, the rest of my/our faith pretty much depends on when, where that body happened to pop into this dimension.

    I have faith in karma and personal responsibility, but it takes way too much faith for me to believe in ancient writings and the various religiosity’s men, who read and interpret them, create and then perceive to be absolute truth . . . BUT if a man’s faith keeps his inherent barbarity under control, and allows him the empathy required to love his neighbor? I’m all for it, even if his faith is in a big black stone . . .

    BUT if he uses his faith to denigrate others, or to bomb and murder and cause unfounded warfare in the name of his God and country? The man is a fool and his God is a fake . . . . . and I have complete faith that a serious karmic debt is soon to pay him a visit.

  2. You have succinctly and accurately stated exactly the thoughts of one of my main characters in “The Cabana Chronicles.” While you and I obviously do not share the same belief about what is true, all of us must have faith in some belief; we all have a theology, an opinion about God. The challenge is to embrace what we firmly believe to be the right one. You believe Christians worship a God they want to believe has communicated with them through the Bible. I believe everyone else worships a false God of their own design.

    The Bible tells us that its subject matter is foolish to those who don’t accept it as God’s word; it also tells us that for anyone to believe it’s true, that faith must be given to us by God because we would otherwise believe as you believe that it is simply a collection of ancient stories. Regardless of whether you believe as I believe, from what you have said, it’s apparent we both agree that a belief system should motivate its followers to behave properly, and I think you will also agree with me that if everyone followed one Jesus Christ as their example, we would behave as well as sinful man can behave. A belief in anything else (a big, black stone, etc.) does not get this result. So then, you must at least admit Christianity, when it is practiced in truth and spirit, is the most unique of all belief systems in establishing a moral code within us that best motivates us to do good. I think we can also agree on that.

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