One of this blog’s readers raised an issue with its December 1 post – Must We Set Aside the Bible to Discover Life’s Meaning? His point was. “…the inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible (which are the result of its fallible human authors) are just the type of thing that NR (non-religious) seize on. They will point out that selective reading can be done innocently, with good intent, or bad intent, so how is anyone to know which is true, and
worth understanding, and what is not?” Does this not sound like two issues? 1. What
is worth understanding? 2. How can one know which of two conflicting positions is true?
The first issue we need to face is that nothing is more worthy of our understanding than whether we are offered eternal life and the opportunity to adequately prepare for it. Unless we can be certain that earthly life is all there is, the stakes are higher than any other stakes
we face. If there is even a small chance that we are offered eternal life and the opportunity to adequately prepare for it, is it not foolhardy to ignore, or worse, deny it? Can we afford to fail to do our best to know this?
This leads to the second issue. How can you know you know anything? Firstly, one must acknowledge that no human knowledge is absolute. All human knowledge is subject to correction, whether established by observation, science, reasoning or (dare I say it?) revelation. What we can know is limited to what we can experience. However, humanity’s experience is severely limited. The best we can know is what we can establish beyond reasonable doubt.
How can we establish knowledge beyond reasonable doubt? I propose four techniques: use reasoning to establish what you know; seek out contradictory positions and use reasoning to confirm or refute what you know; continue to research multiple sources of knowledge and strengthen your knowledge by discovering sources that reinforce each other. Let’s look at these techniques one at a time.
Begin by applying reasoning to establish how you know what you know. If you’d like help undertaking reasoning, you’ll find it in the Meaning of Life Video Series. Its reasoning establishes knowledge, as sound as any knowledge humans possess, that we are offered eternal life and the opportunity to adequately prepare for it. Importantly, reasoning offers you the opportunity to refute that knowledge.
Next seek out all claims that refute your reason-based knowledge. For example, atheists argue that your knowledge is faulty. Pursue their claim by comparing their reasoning (or lack thereof) to yours. You’ll see an example of doing this in the post – Do You Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist – and in Video 15 – Atheists suggest you forget about meaning and just get on with your life – followed by Videos 16-18.
Next, test your reasoning by researching alternative sources of knowledge. Finally, strengthen your knowledge by seeking out sources that reinforce each other. For example, spiritualist thinking reinforces your knowledge as you’ll discover in Video 20 – Is spiritualism an alternative to reasoning? Religion reinforces your knowledge as you’ll discover in Video 29 – Are reasoners, spiritualists and the religious really in conflict? – followed by Video 30. And because Jesus’ words are the Word of God (as we establish in the post – How Can a Man be God – and in Video 25 – Why do many people dismiss the claim that Jesus is the Son of God? – followed by Videos 26-28), God’s Word reinforces your knowledge.
How can you know what is true, and worth understanding? Does the perfect storm of conflicting claims tempt you to give up? The 4 R’s: reasoning, refutation, research and reinforcement are yours for the taking.
You can know what you know.