Gnosis, a Greek word for personal or experiential knowledge. Oh, but the fun hasn’t stopped. Gnosis is also part of the word diagnosis. From its Greek and Latin roots it literally means, to know, distinguish, or discern. I am highly fascinated by what others know. Not only what other folks know, but how they know? How do we know what we think we know in life?
In Philosophy this is known as building an Epistemology, that is, a foundation that helps to both interpret and explain what we think we know. How much do we know? How much can we know? Also, are there things we cannot or do not yet know in the world?
In religion, or really any faith-based belief, are knowledge and faith synonymous? Why or why not? I’ll be up front, my friends, I don’t think that knowledge and faith go together. I think these are two very different things. Faith asks, what do I believe without evidence? Knowledge asks, what do I know and thereby believe because of the evidence? If you know something, then you don’t need faith. If you believe something, what is that belief based upon? It seems that we can either side with the evidence or choose not to value it at all when it comes to our beliefs.
My important question that I would like to ask in a friendly and honest manner is, how important is it to have beliefs that rest upon evidence? It says a lot about Epistemology and how we can know things. It says a lot about how we can know what is true. Since this is the case, faithGnosis is a way of diagnosing whether one’s faith is connected to their knowledge of the world?
Let me just be clear. This was and always will be a big deal for me personally. I came to the conclusion, based upon what I know in life, that my previous Christian faith that I held for ten years did not provide me with a sound foundation to continue believing in what I did not see. I now lack belief in the existence of a God as well as supernatural ideas in general. This directly correlates to the realization that having faith in what is not seen does not appear to be a reliable way to get at what is true. My certainty could have remained sky high about my beliefs but it would not have made them any more true or valid to hold. Truth is connected to what we can identify as knowledge. In Philosophy knowledge is defined as justified true belief. I’ll have more to say about that later.
FaithGnosis is here to help people ask the same questions in a non-confrontational way. I’m going to ask a lot of Socratic kinds of questions and it is up to you, my audience, to decide if faith is connected to knowledge, and if it is not, what does this mean for you personally in your search for what is true? You may come to one of a few different conclusions.
1) Yes, I agree that faith and knowledge are not synonymous, but this doesn’t shake my belief that God is real. I don’t need knowledge and I’m content with faith alone. My certainty is not connected to what I know.
2) No, I do not agree that faith and knowledge are separate from one another. My faith is my knowledge that God exists. God speaks to my heart and I’m confident that I’m not fooling myself. It has to be God. I know that I know that I know. My certainty is connected to what I know.
3) Yes, I agree that faith and knowledge are not synonymous, and I am a little surprised and unsettled about this conclusion. I really did think that my faith was my knowledge about God’s existence until I gave these ideas closer examination. I’m no longer sure how closely related my certainty should be with my faith position?
As the author of this faithGnosis blog, I can’t help but to think that we are delving into life’s most important questions. This is a brutally honest search and it’s going to be important to remain open about where these kinds of questions can lead us. Some will conclude that their faith is stronger than it was before, others will say it is about the same, still others may conclude that faith is not a reliable tool to get at what is true. It shouldn’t contribute to our sense of certainty or assurance. It will be a call to a different methodology.
I wish everyone well in their search for a sound foundation for the things they both think and believe.