I surveyed the Bible to find its position on the status of knowledge. Does the Bible say knowledge/certainty is impossible to the unbeliever? Actually, I found that sinners can know many things. What they can’t know is the deceit of their own heart. But they can know good and evil. In fact, it is for knowing the good, yet choosing the evil, that people are condemned (Romans 1-2).

Below is a set of verses to help combat the mystical approach to knowledge (presuppositionalism). We see the common-sense view of knowledge: we learn by observation and reasoning. People come to faith because they see evidence; seeing leads to believing.

Knowledge plays a huge role in Scripture. In these verses we find a treasury of insight about what knowledge is possible to man and about how knowledge works. Enjoy!Sinners can know good and evil.

Genesis 3:22

And the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become as one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever”—


Sinners can know the deeds of others.

Exodus 2:14
14And he said, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me as thou killed the Egyptian?” And Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known.”


Sinners can gain knowledge of good and evil as they grow into adulthood.

Deuteronomy 1:39-40

Moreover your little ones, who ye said should be a prey, and your children, who in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither; and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it. But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.’


Sinners can learn to know the Lord is God by his miracles.

Deuteronomy 4:33-35

Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God deigned to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was shown, that thou mightest know that the LORD He is God: there is none else besides Him.


Sinners can know history by listening to reputable sources.

Joshua 4:21

And he spoke unto the children of Israel, saying, “When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What mean these stones?’ then ye shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.’


Sinners can know God is speaking by miraculous signs of confirmation.

Judges 6:36-37

And Gideon said unto God, “If Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said–37behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said.”


Sinners can know that some people are virtuous.

Ruth 3:11

And now, my daughter, fear not. I will do for thee all that thou requirest, for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.


All the earth can know that there is a God by his mighty works in battle.

1 Samuel 17:46

This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand. And I will smite thee and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.


Sinners can know that their own hearts are wicked.

1 Kings 2:44

The king said moreover to Shimei, “Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou did to David my father. Therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head.


Only God knows the hearts of all men.

1 Kings 8:39

Then hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart Thou knowest (for Thou, even Thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men),


Sinners can know God’s messengers are true by seeing them work miracles.

1 Kings 17:23

And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother; and Elijah said, “See, thy son liveth.” 24And the woman said to Elijah, “Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.”


Sinners can repent at the sight of a miracle.

1 Kings 18:36-39

And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word. Hear me, O LORD! Hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the LORD God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and they said, “The LORD, He is the God! The LORD, He is the God!”


We cannot know all the greatness of God.

Job 36:26
Behold, God is great, and we know Him not; neither can the number of His years be searched out.


God can do everything.

Job 42:2
I know that Thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from Thee.


For some, knowledge is easy.

Proverbs 14:6
A scorner seeketh wisdom and findeth it not, but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.


People may know the character of children by their behavior.

Proverbs 20:11
Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure and whether it be right.


People may gain knowledge by study.

Proverbs 23:12
Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.


People do not know the future.

Proverbs 27:1
Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.


Knowledge gives life.

Ecclesiastes 7:12

For wisdom is a safeguard, as money is a safeguard, but the excellency of knowledge is that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.


Sinners may know that they have done evil.

Ecclesiastes 7:22

For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.


Young children do not know how to choose between good and evil.

Ecclesiastes 9:5
For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.


Sinners are able to know their own sins.

Isaiah 59:12
For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our sins testify against us. For our transgressions are with us, and as for our iniquities, we know them:


Sinners can have knowledge of how to do evil, but not of how to do good.

Jeremiah 4:22
For My people are foolish, they have not known Me; they are sottish children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.


Sinners are sometimes able to know their own sins.

Jeremiah 14:20

We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness and the iniquity of our fathers; for we have sinned against Thee.


Sinners are not able to know the deceit of their own hearts.

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? 10 “I, the Lord, search the heart; I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”


God blesses some with skill in knowing.

Daniel 1:17

As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.


People can reject knowledge and forget the truth.

Hosea 4:6

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me. Seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.


Leaders have the responsibility to gain knowledge.

Micah 3:1

And I said: “Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know judgment”


Sinners know how to give good gifts to their children.

Matthew 7:11

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in Heaven give good things to them that ask Him?


People may know the character of others by their deeds.

Matthew 7:16

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?


Jesus expected people to know the content of Scripture.

Matthew 12:7

But if ye had known what this meaneth, ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice,’ ye would not have condemned the guiltless.


Jesus pointed out that people know the principle of cause and effect.

Matthew 24:32

Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh.


By Jesus’ miracles, he says we may know that he has power to forgive sins.

Mark 2:10-11

10 But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins—” He said to the one sick with the palsy, 11 “I say unto thee, arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.”


Jesus expected people do know the power of God.

Mark 12:24

And Jesus answering, said unto them, “Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?


By the report of the early Christians we may be certain of our faith.

Luke 1:3-4

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.


God may send angels to make a thing known.

Luke 2:15

And it came to pass, when the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”


Jesus points out that people have knowledge of patterns in nature.

Luke 12:54-56

And He said also to the people, “When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, ‘There cometh a shower’; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, ‘There will be heat’; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites! Ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it that ye do not discern this time?


People can know who Jesus is by his miracles. Even then, they can deny him.

John 3:2

The same came to Jesus by night and said unto Him, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, unless God be with him.”


Jesus expects teachers to master spiritual truths.

John 3:10

Jesus answered and said unto him, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?


Those who obey God’s words will learn to know more of his doctrine.

John 7:17

If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be from God, or whether I speak from Myself.


A healed person was able to reason from Jesus’ power to an inference of his divine nature.

John 9:30-33

The man answered and said unto them, “Why, herein is a marvelous thing: that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners, but if any man be a worshiper of God and doeth His will, him He heareth. Since the world began it was not heard that any man opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”


Sinners may know that Christians are disciples of Christ.

John 13:35

By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples: if ye have love one for another.”


People may know the truth about Jesus based on the record of the early Christians.

John 19:35

And he that saw it bore record, and his record is true, and he knoweth that he saith truly, that ye might believe.


Peter appealed to sinners to repent based on their own observed knowledge of Jesus’ miracles.

Acts 2:22

Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did through Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know —


Even the gentiles knew of Jesus’ miracles.

Acts 26:26

For the king himself knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely; for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him, for this thing was not done in a corner.


Sinners are able to know that God exists, and they may choose to reject him.

Romans 1:20

For from the creation of the world the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.


Sinners are able to judge sin in others and chose to maintain a double standard for themselves.

Romans 2:1

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art who judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself, for thou that judgest doest the same things.


Sinners are condemned when they choose a double standard.

Romans 2:1

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art who judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself, for thou that judgest doest the same things.


We are not always able to know how to pray.

Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.


We know that all things work together for our good.

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.


God can make his mysteries known to people by miraculous visions.

Ephesians 3:3

How by revelation He made known unto me the mystery…


The most excellent knowledge is knowledge of Christ.

Philippians 3:8

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but dung, that I may win Christ


We are able to know how to do good, and yet not choose to do it.

James 4:17

Therefore to him that knoweth how to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.


The majesty of Christ was known by eyewitnesses.

2 Peter 1:16-18

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when there came such a voice to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And this voice, which came from Heaven, we heard when we were with Him on the holy mount.


To know God’s commandments and not do them is worse than to not know them.

2 Peter 2:21

For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they had known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.


We can know we are Christians by our actions.

1 John 2:3

And hereby we know that we know Him: if we keep His commandments.


We can know that Christ will return.

1 John 3:2

Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.




  1. Cody, this is an excellent selection of verses that are well-worth our meditation. But I’m unsure what you meant at the beginning when you wrote that presuppositionalism is “the mystical approach to knowledge.” Presuppositionalism doesn’t deny that we learn by observation and reasoning. Presuppositionalism merely affirms that there are things that we cannot learn by observation and reasoning. At some point, we all have to make pre-theoretical commitments on the basis of faith.

  2. How can you know that the bible is true, that is inspired by God, or that it is inerrant, without appealing to the bible as the source for these claims?

  3. Hey Chris, excellent question! I’ll add this to my list to post on. In short, the Bible makes claims about the actions of God, and I must ask if there is reason to believe the claims are true. In order to decide whether I would place my faith in the words of the Bible, I needed to evaluate the Bible without presupposing its truth. More to come on my blog post!

  4. Cody, wouldn’t that mean that you’re setting yourself up as the authority determining whether or not what God says is true instead of submitting yourself to God’s authority and trusting him to determine whether or not the way that you are thinking and judging and determining is true or right? Isn’t this the same mistake that Eve made in the Garden when she set herself up as the one who determines whether God’s command was worthy of being trusted?

    I guess maybe the difference would be that you are talking about how to determine whether God has spoken and Eve knew for sure that he had? What are your thoughts?

    I would also love to hear your thoughts on to what extent sin affects the reasoning capabilities of fallen people. On what basis should we trust our reason when it tells us that our reason is trustworthy?

  5. Hey Josh, good to hear from you! What statement of mine were you asking about? Would *what mean I am setting myself up as the authority?

    I had said, “I must ask if there is reason to believe the claims are true. In order to decide whether I would place my faith in the words of the Bible, I needed to evaluate the Bible without presupposing its truth.” Is that what you are asking about?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “setting myself up as the authority.” Facts are facts. They do not require an authority to be so. (Check your premises.) In one sense, every person must be a judge of facts. That’s what it means to think. In another sense we may say God is the authority on all facts, because he knows everything. So he is always right. If God says I am wrong, then I am wrong. I am wrong not because God said so, but because I am wrong; and also, God has accurately described the situation. (I know this is novel. Again, check your premises.)

    I think Eve’s mistake was not that she took a stance on God’s authority, but that she took the wrong stance on it. Taking a stance is unavoidable, if one wishes to think about the topic.

    Jesus wants us to determine whether he is trustworthy. He has given us enough evidence that the only reasonable response is to trust him. To act against this evidence is not a mistake of knowledge, but of morality; it means having the truth in reach, and not choosing to reach for it. As sinners we are all moral cowards, knowing God’s power by natural observation, but rejecting it (Romans 1-2).

    Sin can affect our reasoning capabilities. The more we choose not to follow the truth, the more we predispose ourselves to be able to continue doing so without even knowing it. Nevertheless, objectivity in some areas is possible to people. It is possible to show someone that his beliefs are contradictory. Even if he doesn’t want to believe you are right, he may admit that logic is not on his own side. But even so, he may stubbornly refuse to change his mind (often by means of changing the subject). Here, the man has objectively reasoned the correct conclusion, but lacked the moral character to act on it.

    To know the truth and to reject it in this way is morally wrong. This is the nature of our rebellion against God. Once we have rebelled it takes a miracle of God to allow us again to be able to actually follow the evidence. I don’t say that evidence is sufficient for salvation. A miracle is required. But the miracle consists of the opening of the person’s mind to the very evidence they have evaded. Only after this miracle do I say the person has faith. So faith is not a leap in the dark, but a step that follows evidence. It is a step a sinner cannot make until he is regenerated.

    You asked, “On what basis should we trust our reason when it tells us that our reason is trustworthy?” Could you clarify: when (what) tells us that our reason is trustworthy? I didn’t understand the question.

    Also I think it is a bit confusing to speak of “trusting reason.” Reasoning means thinking, and trusting means being willing to think something is true. So to “trust reason” only means being willing to think that one’s thinking is true. But that is synonymous with “believing”–believing anything. To believe something is to believe that it is true.

    To think is “to reason.” To think that God’s word is true is to reason that God’s word is true. We don’t have to choose between “reason and revelation.” We have to decide whether revelation is reasonable or not.

    Said another way, we don’t “trust reason.” We just reason. We trust God. Reason is the method of determining what to trust. We reason that God is trustworthy. What is the alternative? To feel that he is trustworthy? Feeling is good, and important. But feelings are not a means of knowledge about who is and isn’t trustworthy. Only thinking.

    Jesus told people to believe him because they heard his teaching and saw his miracles, and knew him. He didn’t speak of presupposing anything. If your definition of faith involves the concept of presupposition, then I would have to ask you once again to check your premises. Faith is believing that God’s promises are true.

    Thanks for posting. Please feel invited to respond to my comments here or at other posts. I’ve written a lot on faith and evidence, and I will continue writing on the subject. You know how to ask the kinds of questions that will help me communicate my view. God bless!

  6. Cody,

    1. When I ask about you making yourself the authority above God, I am not speaking about the facts themselves, but about proposition(s) based on or derived from facts. It seems that what you are saying is God has said some things are true, but before we believe those things or trust what he has said, we need to investigate the facts behind these statements and determine for ourselves whether or not what God has said is worthy of being trusted. In an essay, C. S. Lewis pictured this as us placing God in a dock (think British witness stand) while we sit on the bench judging and determining whether or not God is trustworthy. Lewis said that what conclusion we come to (whether we believe God or not) is only secondarily important. The fact that we have set ourselves up as the judge (the one with authority) who requires God to defend himself before us is already a fundamental change in the relationship (hierarchy) between God and men.

    I would also be interested in knowing what exactly the nature of truth is in your system. Is truth (and morality for that matter) something outside of God that he is accountable to or is truth something internal to God–a part of his nature? Is truth a shorthand way of saying something like “That which corresponds to God’s perspective on reality?”

    2. I understand how you are using the word reason (basically synonymous with thinking), and I am happy to use it the same way. The question I am trying to ask here is what impact does sin have on our ability to reason (think rightly)? Does sin (fallen humanity’s sinful nature) affect our minds and our reasoning capabilities? Is our ability to reason as fallen people completely trustworthy or are there limits?

    Also, how do you know that your reasoning capabilities are dependable? It seems that your epistemology is pretty circular–“You know by reasoning. How do you know that you know by reasoning? Well, you reasoned that you do.” How do you “get around” this circularity or do you even have a need to? (In the end, any consistent epistemology necessarily has some level of circularity.) Again, if you do not need to “get around” this circularity, how can you be certain that your thinking abilities (your “thinker” you might say) is reliable?

    I look forward to your thoughts.

  7. Hey Josh,

    Thanks for the questions! I haven’t written up a short explanation of my inductive approach to knowledge yet, but I’ll be working on it. I base my system on a book called Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, so that’s the best place to go if you want to know more about the system for now.

    I carefully wrote out three pages of thoughts to respond to your questions. But rather than deluge you, I’ll give you a bit and see what you think.

    As an already committed Christian, I do not need to verify God’s words by my own observation. I have already determined him to be trustworthy. But I have been arguing about the process of a non-Christian converting. The essence of conversion is that a person determines God is trustworthy. Believing in God means making a judgment. Is that judgment based on something or not? If something, then what? I argue that the judgment should be based on evidence rather than a presupposition.

    Here’s an awesome mental puzzle: Does the evidentialist presuppose the evidentialist method?

    I argue that he does not. The commitment to follow the evidence simply means the commitment to have an active mind. If an active-minded person is unwilling to consider becoming closed-minded, does that therefore make him closed-minded? The unwillingness to presuppose cannot rightly be called a presupposition.

    Here’s why the evidentialist method is not circular: Openness to evidence is not like other commitments. It is a meta-commitment. Evidence is the only method of determining all commitments, aside from its alternative: whim.

  8. Great thoughts.

    The distinction you make between a believe and a non-believer being convert is helpful in some ways.

    I am not comprehensively, but somewhat familiar with objectivism (the Ayn Rand variety).

    Final question: What is the difference between what you call a “meta-commitment” and what others call a presupposition?

    You say, “Here’s why the evidentialist method is not circular: Openness to evidence is not like other commitments. It is a meta-commitment. Evidence is the only method of determining all commitments, aside from its alternative: whim.” What prevents someone from making the same argument about God’s existence? (Something like: The existence of God is not like other commitments. It is a meta-commitment. Without God’s existence there is no truth to investigate and know. You can’t investigate and determine what is true without presupposing the God is “the way THE TRUTH and the life”.)

  9. Cody,

    i realized that there were a couple of spelling mistakes in what I wrote above that could have made it hard to understand. I corrected those below. I hope it is more clear.

    Great thoughts.

    The distinction you make between a believer and a non-believer being converted is helpful in some ways.

    I am somewhat familiar (but not comprehensively) with objectivism (the Ayn Rand variety).

    Final question: What is the difference between what you call a “meta-commitment” and what others call a presupposition?

    You say, “Here’s why the evidentialist method is not circular: Openness to evidence is not like other commitments. It is a meta-commitment. Evidence is the only method of determining all commitments, aside from its alternative: whim.” What prevents someone from making the same argument about God’s existence? (Something like: The existence of God is not like other commitments. It is a meta-commitment. Without God’s existence there is no truth to investigate and know. You can’t investigate and determine what is true without presupposing the God who is “the way THE TRUTH and the life”.)

  10. Maybe meta-commitment is a misleading word. What I am saying is the choice to think is prior to the choice of what to think. To think is the fundamental choice. It is not subject to the same considerations as later choices. It cannot be incorrect because it is the single means of discovering what is correct.

  11. Hey Timothy, you wrote, “Presuppositionalism merely affirms that there are things that we cannot learn by observation and reasoning.” Here you have only said that knowledge is limited. On that I agree.

    But do you also mean that we must gain knowledge by other means than observation and reasoning? I believe that when God speaks and we decide to trust his word, this counts as observation and reasoning.

    I disagree with the idea that we all have to make pre-theoretical commitments on the basis of faith. Where did this idea come from? What validates it? As far as I know, the idea has no support. Since thinking consists of relating observations, I would ask you to offer some observations or some facts in reality to support the view. Until then, I’m not able to consider the idea. It is as if nothing has been said. That is the nature of arbitrary statements.

    What if I haven’t made any pre-theoretical commitments? And what if I didn’t need any of them in order to begin to acquire knowledge? I can point to facts to substantiate my view. How would you show that it isn’t so?

    I’m interested to know your thoughts on my thread with Josh in this post. I’ve articulated my ideas in some detail. Also, please check out my August 14th post.

  12. Here are some more thoughts about epistemology. I recently sent this to Josh as a response to his questions. I hope you’ll take a look:

    When one looks at a bridge and decides to cross it, he is judging the bridge. But not in the way a judge in courtroom judges a defendant. A person chooses to follow the way he perceives will lead to life. Is the bridge trustworthy to get him across? That is the question Jesus wants us to ask of him.

    Lewis’ “God in the dock” analogy is unfitting. If Lewis is merely pointing out that it is a shame that we are in the position of needing rescue in the first place, I agree. But, given that we are in need of rescue, and given that we must choose whether to accept rescue, it makes no sense to bewail or downplay the need of human choice here.

    Christ asks people to judge whether he is reliable (Matthew 16:15). The kind of response he wants is also seen in John 6:68-69: Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

    Notice he speaks of coming to believe and to know. Two parts. What was Peter’s means of knowledge? I find Matthew 16:17 interesting: Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”

    How was the truth revealed to Peter? I think it came as the culmination of his hearing the teaching, seeing the miracles, and receiving the effectual calling. The effectual calling did not convey new information to Peter; rather, it allowed him to believe that which he knew.

    All over the New Testament we see the movement from evidence to a call to faith. For example, Scripture appeals to evidence in Luke 1, John 20, Acts 2, Acts 16, Acts 17, and 1 Peter 3. It is the evidence, and the power of the Holy Spirit, that “cuts people to the heart.” In these narratives the messenger never appeals to presuppositions. It is assumed that knowledge is valid, and that it comes from observation.

    Let me explain what I think about the validity of knowledge. You asked about our ability to reason while fallen. I addressed that in what I wrote to you August 9th. Sin is truth-evasion. Evasion leads to more evasion and to the eventual inability to stop evading, which is the hardening of one’s heart (Romans 1). In this state we have no way to save ourselves. We need a rescuer. We need a miracle.

    The miracle is that God allows us to believe when we would otherwise not have, even with all the evidence in the world. In Luke 16:31 Jesus said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” That is the state of sinful man: he refuses to act on the evidence, though the reasonable path is quite clear to him. He does not want to be reasonable, and he can and does chose not to be.

    This is a problem with man’s character, not with the method of reason itself. I do not say that we are able to follow reason perfectly. I say we should follow it as perfectly as we are able. I say that following reason is virtue.

    Our inability to attain perfect virtue (rationality), whether unsaved or saved, is not relevant to the fact that we still must strive for virtue (rationality).

    The solution to the problem of sin is to learn the truth, and, by God’s help, to accept it. Do we have a completely trustworthy ability to reason? No. We are not infallible. In fact, even a sinless person would not necessarily reason infallibly. Man is not perfectly reasonable. Nevertheless, rationality is the goal.

    For man, who is not omniscient, to say “I know” means “in the context of all my knowledge, this conclusion follows.” We must always be open to new knowledge, and to the possibility that we have made a logical error in prior thinking.

    When should we conclude that a given idea is dependable? If we have strived to follow the best method we know, and if we have arrived at the point of being able to say, “All evidence points toward this conclusion, and no evidence points away from it,” then we are entitled to claim knowledge. We may still be wrong. But the claim to knowledge is not the claim to infallibility.

    One may be certain, and correctly so, and be wrong; certainty pertains to method, not to omniscience. This is the Objectivist epistemology. It is radically different from both 20th C. Reformed Epistemology and Post-Modernism.

    You (Josh) admit that your own epistemology is circular. If you share John Frame’s epistemology, then I agree. He admits it too. But my epistemology is not circular. I do not agree with that evaluation.

    In my epistemology, knowledge is simply knowledge. How do I know it? That question could not have even been asked if knowledge were not knowledge. By the nature of consciousness, the senses, and the observable world, knowledge is what it is. There is no way to deconstruct it further. Knowledge is self-evidently knowledge to the one who has it. That “knowledge is knowledge” is not open to dispute, for the very idea of dispute depends on the existence of knowledge. The only answer I can give you is, “Look. See for yourself.” (An ostensive definition, similar to defining an experience of a color or a flavor.)

    You asked a great question about the nature of truth in my system. God’s nature is to be truthful. In at least one sense, Jesus is the truth (John 14). I believe this means he is God’s true revelation of himself to us, so it is related to the idea of Christ as “the word” (John 1).

    That said, truth is a characteristic, not an entity. God behaves in a true way. The concept of truth is a description of correspondence between an idea and an entity or action. God exists, and he exists in a non-contradictory, non-self-destructive, non-deceitful way. That’s what it means to be “true.”

    Is truth something outside God? No, because, to be exact, truth is not a “something” (contra Plato). Characteristics are not “things.” Things have characteristics. God is eminently truthful. We can learn the truth by learning about God.

    You ask is God accountable to the truth? That would be an inapplicable use of the concept “accountable.” He is incapable of being untruthful. Accountability is a concept that only applies when there is choice. Being truthful is part of God’s nature. Nevertheless, reality is also real. A is A, not because God knows it to be, but because God has already made it to be (and is upholding it).

    You asked, “Is truth a shorthand way of saying something like ‘that which corresponds to God’s perspective on reality?” I think the question is imprecise. What does it mean for God to have a perspective on reality? Perspective means looking at something from an angle and seeing part of it. God doesn’t have a perspective because he knows everything. Do you mean God’s understanding of reality?

    If so, then I would take your suggestion and reverse it. “God’s understanding of reality” is one way of correctly characterizing truth. “God’s understanding of reality” is coterminous with truth, but it is not the definition of truth.

    We may know that something is so because we may make the inference: God says so; he knows all; he does not lie—it must be so. By such an inference we may know something is so. But it is not God’s saying it that made it true. Rather, it is true because it corresponds to the facts. And, incidentally, the facts are facts because God made the world a certain way. God’s description of the world is not its cause. God’s creating actions are the cause.

    It is important to take my view on truth because under any other system the idea of truth loses its meaning. It becomes even more important when, as you suggested, we turn to the subject of morality. Have you already read my series on goodness? I presented my answer there. It is post #10 through #16.



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