Written by Ben Russell
The Biblical concept of knowledge is a belief that is true and is justified. In other words, a belief that is factual and is accounted for. The Hebrew and Greek words for “knowledge are “daath” and “gnósis” rendered as connecting theory to application. Infinite or endless knowledge must be present, or nothing is known since a fact that is unknown could contradict what is proclaimed to be known. The fact any person contains knowledge proves they know God.
Proverbs 1:7 -The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Colossians 2:3 – In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
There are different “kinds” of truth. One kind of truth may be known as a contingent truth. Contingent truth is a fact that is true for a time, but then is no longer true due to a change in circumstances. For instance, there was a time that George Washington was the president, but he is no longer the president. Sometimes, it is objected that truth doesn’t exist because the truth is subject to change. Just as George Washington was once president of the US, he is no longer the president. Thus, the objector says, truth is not unchangeable. Therefore, there is no such thing as absolute truth as The Bible teaches. This objection is based on the logical fallacy equivocation which is changing the definition of a word in the middle of an argument. The word “true” is changed from a fact being correct to no longer being correct in a later time which is fallacious.
The problem now is the ontology of truth. The biblical standard of truth is whatever corresponds to the mind of God (Daniel 4:35; Romans 11:36; Ephesians 1:11). Truth is often defined as whatever corresponds to reality. In other words, whatever is based on facts or information. Although this non-biblical standard isn’t inconsistent with scripture. It will be used here to account for the biblical standard of knowledge.
Many people like to define knowledge differently or have an alternative standard of epistemology. Since there are an infinite amount of theological and atheistic worldviews, only a few will be addressed.
A standard for knowledge is simply belief. Whatever a person simply believes is true regardless if its contradictory to another person’s belief. So in this standard, accountability and truth are arbitrary. This is self refuting. If knowledge is simply belief, then an individual could believe that belief does not determine knowledge and therefore refutes the another person’s belief. This is arbitrary.
A fact only is a standard for knowledge. Having a justification and belief isn’t necessary. The problem here is that nothing is known to be a fact, including this statement. Since accounting is not important, any knowledge claim could be presented and it should be accepted as actual knowledge even if it contradicts another knowledge claim. According to this standard, its absurd and justification for this statement isn’t required.
Justification apart from facts and beliefs is also a position for knowledge. This is actually the most inconsistent standard then the previous definitions. In order to confirm a justification or accounting for any statement a belief and facts are immediately presupposed. If the person is proclaiming a deceptive statement then they are attempting to persuade a knowledge claim that is not true and believes the exact opposite claim is true. Regardless, justification is necessary here. It only demonstrates what is believed that could be true or not true, even though its not absolutely certain. This leads to an appeal to ignorance fallacy.
Another standard is a fact that is believed but is not justified. In other words, a belief that is a fact, but accounting is not necessary. Since this lacks accountability, what is proclaimed to be factual isn’t ontologically factual. The reason is because justification requires infinite beliefs of every fact, otherwise one fact could contradict what a person proclaims to believe or know. Therefore a person’s belief isn’t known to be fact with absolute certainty.
Justified belief without fact is a position as well. The problem here is that a belief can be accounted for, but if its not a fact it could be false. If a knowledge claim could be false, its not certainty known. In order for this theory of knowledge to be consistent it would need facts, or simply truth, otherwise its self refuting.
Fact that is justified but isn’t believed isn’t necessarily self refuting, but is inconsistent. People can be unaware of facts or truth, but if someone is aware a fact is justified, but willingly rejects it is arbitrary. Depending on the justified truth it could make a person’s daily living inconsistent. Laws of logic are examples of truth that is justified. Laws of logic extend from God’s nature(Exodus 3:14; Titus 1:2). In this theory of knowledge they are not believed, but every person uses them daily, which is inconsistent. The other theories of knowledge fail to account or justify laws of logic as well.
In the worst case, people will give up knowledge. They confirm there is no ontological concept to know anything. If this was true then the statement could not be made since the statement itself is a knowledge claim which is self refuting.
These are some of the many definitions of epistemology. Each of these fail on their own terms since people cannot freely live up to them. Although their are many more standards, an internal critique demonstrates they fail to account for anything apart from the biblical God. Only the biblical worldview accounts for a standard of knowledge and the fact people do contain knowledge proves that everyone knows God exists, but rejects the truth because they love their sin (Romans 1:18-21).