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If I were to go home and my wife says, “You’re angry.” To which I reply, “No, I’m not angry.” And we go back and forth – I need to take a second and decide whether or not what my wife is saying is true.
And, on this particular situation, I realize that I actually do have a seething rage down deep inside of me that my wife picked up on.
Now, I have my thought: “I am angry”; I also encounter anger through introspection. And, when I compare the two, I say to myself, “There’s that thing again – the matching between my thought and what is real… also known as TRUTH.”
You see, we need to have reality and a belief about the subject in question in order to derive truth.
So, what is a belief?
A belief is a thought that you take to be true with somewhere between 51% – 100% certainty. If you are only 52% certain about something, you believe it… but weakly. On the other hand, if you believe something with 80% certainty, you have a pretty strong belief in it.
So, if I have a true thought (which matches reality) that I believe with some degree of certainty, I still don’t have knowledge – I simply have what’s known as true belief.
To prove that this is not knowledge, consider this story:
In Newport Beach, CA, there’s a public restroom. Nearby, there is a resident drunk who has formed the habit of believing everything that gets written inside the second stall of the men’s room at Newport Beach. His idea is: “If the stall says it, he believes it, that settles it.”
So, one day, he walks into the men’s room and sees on the second stall the words, “George Washington was the first president of the United States.”
Prior to this, he had never heard of George Washington. He doesn’t have a clue. But, the stall says it, so therefore (to him) it must be true. And he believes that George Washington was the first president of the United States.
Now, compare and contrast this guy to an historian who has congressional records, personal letters and newspaper clippings from the time when George Washington was made president.
These two gentlemen have two things in common: they both have the same belief; and they both have the truth that Washington was our first president. Both of their beliefs match reality. BUT, the historian has knowledge, but the Newport Beach drunk is just lucky.
What’s the difference?
The historian’s true belief is based on good, adequate reasons, whereas the Newport Beach guy doesn’t really have any good, adequate reasons supporting his belief.
So, knowledge is a true belief that’s based on adequate reasons.
If I claim to have propositional knowledge that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, which I do, I claim that I have a true belief that Jesus rose from the dead based on good, solid, adequate reasons – in this case, historical reasons.
The same applies if I claim that God is real.
Now, there’s something very important here that I don’t want you to miss: Propositional knowledge does not require certainty.
JP will continue his discussion of Loving God with Your Mind in next week’s video podcast.
And for more engaging and encouraging videos and podcasts, visit the E-Squared Media Network at www.e2medianetwork.com