Believing Versus Knowing

Posted by Steve on August 8th, 2009 — Posted in Uncategorized

Occasionally, a person will say about their belief in God (or the lack thereof), “I don’t want to believe, I want to know!” This is a fine-sounding argument, but it lacks intellectual honesty as I will show below.

Let’s define a god as a transcendent being. For now, let this mean any god, not the one true God. Now a transcendent being is one who transcends what we are. A transcendent being is a being who, almost by definition of transcendence, is one who we can’t wrap our mind around. Or, if we could fully comprehend such a being, it might reasonably be argued that this being is not transcendent. Seen in this light, it’s quite reasonable to conclude that a relationship with a transcendent being—if we were to have such a relationship—must be on the basis of faith, for if we could fully comprehend such a being, they would not be transcendent.

I assert that what is logically true of our strawman transcendent being is also logically true of the God of Jews and Christians—the God of the Bible. That is, if we are to have a relationship with Him, it must be a relationship based at least in part on faith, by reason of His transcendence. To say that you’d rather “know” than “believe” is really to say that you assume there is no such thing as a transcendent being. The know/believe issue sounds very intellectually rigorous. But in fact, it merely conceals a biased assumption. Intellectual honesty would demand that such a person admit their position for what it is: simply an assumption that there is or can be no transcendent being.