Part Three: What is Epistemology and Why Should I Care?
Dr. Jason Lisle is a Christian astrophysicist who writes and speaks on various topics relating to science and the defense of the Christian faith. His blog post on epistemology is excellent. For the purpose of this post, I borrowed greatly from Dr. Lisle. I highly recommend that you subscribe to his blog at www.jasonlisle.com.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Epistemology helps us answer the question: how we know what we know. When a person has a belief, it is reasonable to ask the person “how do you know this?” The way in which a person responds to this kind of question will reveal his or her original source or epistemology.
Everyone has an epistemology because everyone have some beliefs, and they have reasons for their beliefs. However, not all reasons are good reasons. If the reason isn’t very good, then there is a good chance that the belief is wrong.
Epistemology is very important if we want our beliefs to correspond to what is real — to truth.
I believe it is safe to assume that most people have not consciously reflected on their own epistemology. According to Dr. Lisle, when we think about what we believe we know, we need to ask ourselves three questions.
- How do I ultimately know anything?
- What are the standards by which truth is determined?
- Are these standards biblical?
Before we continue with this discussion, you may be asking yourself this question: “Why should I be concerned with epistemology? It is enough that I do know things?”
Our epistemology is crucially important because if it is wrong, then many of our beliefs derived from that faulty system will also likely be wrong. In other words, if our epistemology is wrong, then we could be wrong about everything we think we know!
Only a Biblical worldview makes it possible for us to answer our questions and have genuine knowledge. This is because knowledge stems from the nature of God. Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
A Biblical worldview gives us rational justification for all the things that we rely upon in order to have knowledge. As I stated in the last post, human beings are made in the image of God.
Now, as Christians, let’s consider these additional facts.
God’s mind is perfect by His nature. At salvation, God gave us — Christians — the ability to pattern our thoughts after His. For our benefit, God has commanded us to pattern our thoughts after His, so that our thoughts will be truthful.
In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 — please take the time to read these verses yourself — we read that God has given Christians two amazing gifts to enable us to discern the spiritual truth in all situations.
First, God has given us His secret wisdom. Vs. 9-10
However, as it is written: “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”
Secondly, we have the mind of Christ. Vs. 16
“‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
Friends, as with any issue or situation, the “gay” issues we face today can only be righty discerned by Christians accessing the secret wisdom of God through our right mind — the mind of Christ. This is accomplished by way of the only reliable record we have, the Bible.
The Failure of Secular Epistemologies
Dr. Lisle writes in his blog, “Non-Biblical worldviews makes knowledge impossible.”
That doesn’t mean that non-Christians can’t know anything. Clearly they can. But this is despite their worldview and not because of it. When you ask a non-Christian why they know what they know, it ultimately leads back to themselves as the basis of their knowledge.
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a rational person and an irrational one? A rational person has a good reason for his or her beliefs. An irrational person does not.
A Biblicalworldview allows us to have good reasons for our most basic beliefs. Apart from the Bible, any reason that we offer for any belief cannot be ultimately justified.
Folks, it would appear that there are only two options for a person to hold. One can either be a consistent Christian, or one can be irrational.
Epistemology is important because we live in a post-Christian America. More than ever, it is essential that, as Christians, we ask ourselves these three question about what we, think we know. Then, we ask others.
- “How do we know what we know?”
- “What are the standards by which truth is determined?”
- “Are these standards biblical?”
In my next post, I am going to present a biblical epistemology/worldview of marriage.
Again, I want to express my thanks to Dr. Jason Lisle for his work on epistemology.
I sincerely hope this series is a blessing to you. I would love to know what you believe the Bible says. Got any stories or reports? Please share.