OUTLINE • ABSTRACT • INTRODUCTION • CLARRIFICATION OF TERMS o CHRISTIAN o GOD o THE TRIPARTITE THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE
• CLARRIFICATION OF TERMS
o THE TRIPARTITE THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE
• THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD; TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH AND DOCTRINES.
• AN EXAMINATION OF THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, USING THE EPISTEMOLOGICAL CONCEPT OF JUSTICE, TRUTH, AND JUSTIFICATION.
o A TEST FOR BELIEF IN THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
o A TEST FOR TRUTH IN THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
o A TEST FOR JUSTIFICATION IN THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
o ANALYSIS OF THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IN THE LIGHT OF THE SUFFICIENT GROUNDS OF TRUTH, BELIEF AND JUSTIFICATION.
The question of the existence of God remains a perennial problem of philosophy, in the midst of this problem however, Christians holds the belief that God is. And they further this belief by making knowledge claims to this God. Epistemology by its goal is interested in knowledge claims. By its traditional definition in epistemology, knowledge is a justified, true, belief. And hence to say you know a reality, these three conditions must be met. With this in mind, this work aims at testing the Christian knowledge of God who is a metaphysical reality, with the goal of seeking to know, how possible it is for one to make a knowledge claim to a God, therefore the validity of the Christians claim of knowledge of God. This is aimed also at showing how philosophy is a ‘drive back’ to and not a ‘drive out’ of God To this goal therefore, this work will be making a philosophical analysis of the issue it aims at addressing.
Epistemology by etymology is derived from “Greek ????????, epist?m? , meaning ‘knowledge’, and ????? , logos , meaning logical discourse.” Is the branch of philosophy whose sole interest and aim is with the theory of knowledge. Epistemology etymologically can also be seen as “the theory of knowledge.” Put together, to mean study of knowledge, is by its goal interested in knowledge claims. And as a way of streamlining its focus, it is interested with special attention to ‘knowledge that’ or the propositional knowledge which is by its nature interested in “the content or meaning of a declarative sentence.” Knowledge as a proposition is “the most important and most frequent sense in which the word ‘know’ is used.”
In the field of theology which is the study of God by its etymological definition and as obvious in the Christian’s faith and practices, there is a claim to know God bearing in mind that God is an abstract or metaphysical reality not perceptible to any of the human senses. Worthy of note is the exclusion of Jesus Christ as God although the Christians believe he is, this is so because he is a historical figure and therefore his existence is not debatable. This work wishes to only evaluate the Christian claim of knowledge of God whom Jesus explains as his father.
Haven stated the above, it is pertinent to note that this work however does not aim at attempting an argument to prove the existence of God, but will expose the Christian knowledge of God, and text run this claim with the epistemological concept of truth belief and evidence. As a guide to a fulfillment of this aim, we will be making use greatly of the catholic teachings on the ‘knowledge of God’, noting full well, that the Catholic Church is the custodian of the truth, with reference of the Christian teaching, belief, doctrine, tradition, etc. Not forgetting too that it is the oldest Christian organization whose history is traceable to the apostles and to Christ himself. This we shall do adopting the outline given in the earlier pages of this work.
CLARRIFICATION OF TERM
To ward off the error of misuse of concept or terms, we shall here given a clarification of the concept used in this work, noting clearly its meaning and how it is used in this paper.
“The word Christian is coined from the Greek words ‘Christos’ which means, the anointed one, and ‘Ianus’ which means belonging to” . Put together therefore, Christians from the etymological definition of the word can be seen as those who belong to the anointed one. Christians can also be seen to be the followers of Christ. In the early days after the death of Christ, his followers called themselves differently, ‘brethrens’ as seen in Acts 1:16) ‘disciples’ as seen in Acts 11:26, they also called themselves ‘believers’ as seen in Acts 2:44, and “those of the way.” Within a decade after the death of Christ, the name Christians was used to address the disciples by non-members of the Christian Community or Pagans are they are popularly called. The name Christians apparently began at Antioch of Syria approximately A.D 4 Acts 11:26
“Epistemology differs from psychology in that it is not concerned with why men hold the beliefs that they do or with the way in which they come to hold them.” By this, the epistemologist focuses his research or investigations, into the grounds for what one claims to know or to believe and not seeking the reason one does. While the psychologist attempt to answer the question above, as it concerns his field to a good extent, the epistemologist seeks to know if beliefs are based on good, sound or valid grounds.
One would not normally claim knowledge about something, unless one were sure about it, but this is very different from asserting that a man could not be said to know something unless what he claimed to know does not actually require this, it requires only that there be best grounds for what is claimed.
THE TRIPARTITE THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE
The tradition of the tripartite grounds for making knowledge claims can to traced to Plato who held that three conditions must be satisfied in order for one to possess knowledge. This he made lucid in his Theatetus. The account, known as the tripartite theory of knowledge, describes knowledge, as justified true belief. In opinion of the tripartite theory, if you believe something, with justification, and it is true, then you know it; otherwise, you do not, when one of the above mentioned grounds is missing.
The first condition for making knowledge claim, according to the tripartite theory, is belief. Unless one believes a thing, one cannot know it. This condition is of high importance and necessity because to say you ‘know that’ but don’t ‘believe that’ is a contradiction and a denial of validity to the knowledge claim one makes. “Even if something is true, and one has excellent reasons for believing that it is true, one cannot know it without believing it.” In th absence of belief therefore, one cannot make knowledge claim of an entity or reality.
In the layman usage of the word, belief is “typically an expression of faith or trust in a person, power or other entity.” To belief is the sharp contrast of doubting hence, one cannot under this condition claim to know what he doubts, or has no faith in belief in epistemology however, while bearing elements of the layman usage of the word, is also concerned with what we believe. “This includes ‘the’ truth one cannot know something that one doesn’t even believe”. Hence it will be outrighly wrong for one to say in know that there are books in the seminary library, but i don’t believe there are books in the seminary library. This statement is an outright contradiction because the speaker here makes knowledge claim, without belief, epistemologically therefore, the speaker possesses no knowledge.
Belief can also be seen as “a kind of assent to a given proposition or state of affair.” Belief by this definition is the ‘yes’ said to meaning of a statement. This therefore implies that you cannot believe something you do not assent to the above definition is further clarified in the definition of belief as “an attitude of taking something to be the case.” The Belief Condition
The belief condition is only slightly more controversial than the truth condition. The general idea behind the belief condition is that you can only know what you believe. Failing to believe something precludes knowing it. “Belief” in the context of the JTB theory means full belief, or outright belief. In a weak sense, one might “believe” something by virtue of being confident that it’s probably. To believe outright that a thing is the case, is not enough to have a high confidence in the ‘thing’; it is something closer to a commitment or a being sure.
Although initially it might seem obvious that knowing that p requires believing that p, a few philosophers over time have argued that knowledge devoid of belief is indeed possible. Suppose “Walter comes home after work to find out that his house has burned down. He says: “I don’t believe it”. Critics of the belief condition might argue that Walter knows that his house has burned down (he sees that it has), but, as his words indicate, he does not believe it.” The standard response is that Walter’s avowal of disbelief is not literally true; what Walter wishes to convey by saying “I don’t believe it” is not that he really does not believe that his house has burned down, but rather that he finds it hard to come to agreement with what he sees. If he genuinely didn’t believe it, some of his subsequent actions, such as phoning his insurance company, would be rather mysterious
The second condition for knowledge, according to the tripartite theory, or the traditional definition is truth. If one knows a thing then it must be true. “No matter how well justified or sincere a belief, if it is not true that it cannot constitute knowledge.” The importance of this condition in a knowledge claim cannot be overemphasized for no false knowledge is same as no knowledge. In this light, if a long-held belief is discovered to be false, then one must concede that what was thought to be known was in fact not known. Following from this, “what is false cannot be known;” knowledge must be of a true and real entity which must be the case.
The condition truth should be noted “does not require our assent.” Agreeing therefore does not make it true, and neither does refuting it. A thing only needs to be true for it to be true, it does not need or demand that we know or we belief it to be true. This definition of truth, covers for those realities which the human man by its nature doubts and argues, which are in themselves true.
Most epistemologists have found it overwhelmingly plausible that what is false cannot be known. For example, “Hillary Clinton did not win the 2016 US Presidential election. Consequently, nobody knows that Hillary Clinton won the election. One can only know things that are true.” Hence only what is true can be known.
Sometimes when people are very confident of something that turns out to be wrong, we use the word “knows” to describe their situation. Many people expected Clinton to win the election. Speaking loosely, one might even say that many people “knew” that Clinton would win the election until she lost.
The truth of a given proposition does not require that anyone can know or prove that it is true. Not all truths are established truths. If you flip a coin and never check how it landed, it may be true that it landed heads, even if nobody has any way to tell. Truth is a metaphysical, as opposed to epistemological, notion: truth is a matter of how things are, not how they can be, truth is not created by man, it is only discovered, as exemplified in the laws of science.
Shown to be. So when we say that only true things can be known, we’re not inferring anything about how anyone can access the truth. As we will see, the other conditions have important roles to play here.” Knowledge is a kind of relationship with the truth—to know something is to have a certain kind of access to a fact.”
The third condition for knowledge is justification. In order to know a thing, it is not enough to merely correctly believe it to be true; one must also have a good reason for doing so. Lucky guesses cannot constitute knowledge;” we can only know what we have good reason to believe.”
Why is the third condition necessary? Why not say that knowledge is true belief? And just let justification go. The standard answer is that “to admit knowledge with true belief would be implausible because a belief might be true even though it is formed improperly.” Suppose that William flips a coin, and confidently believes on no particular basis that it will land tails. If by chance the coin does land tails, then William’s belief was true; but a lucky guess such as this one is no knowledge. For William to know, his belief must in some epistemic sense be proper or appropriate: it must be justified. This, Gettier pointed out lucidly in his criticism of the traditional definition go knowledge.
the need for something like a justification condition, Socrates articulates in Plato’s Theaetetus, when he points out that “true opinion” is in general insufficient for knowledge..
There is considerable disagreement among epistemologists concerning what the relevant sort of justification here consists in.” Internalists about justification think that whether a belief is justified depends wholly on states in some sense internal to the subject.” According to one common such sense of “internal”, only those features of a subject’s experience which are directly or introspectively available count as “internal this may be known as “access internalism”. According to another, only intrinsic states of the subject are “internal” this also could be known as “state internalism”. Conee and Feldman present an example of an internalist view. They have it that S’s belief that p is justified if and only if believing that p is the attitude towards p that best fits S’s evidence, where the latter is understood to depend only on
There are two kinds of justification that one might distinguish between. They are referred to as “propositional justification” and “doxastic justification unlike that between internalist and externalist approaches to justification, the distinction between propositional and doxastic justification does not represent a conflict to be resolved; it is a distinction between two distinct properties that are called “justification”. Propositional justification concerns whether a subject has sufficient reason to assent a given proposition; doxastic justification concerns whether a given belief is held appropriately. One common way of relating the two is to suggest that propositional justification is the more fundamental, and that doxastic justification is a matter of a subject’s having a belief that is appropriately responsive to, or based on their propositional justification.
The precise relation between propositional and doxastic justification is subject to controversy, but it is uncontroversial that the two notions can come apart. Suppose that Ingrid ignores a great deal of excellent evidence indicating that a given neighborhood is dangerous, but superstitiously comes to believe that the neighborhood is dangerous when she sees a black cat crossing the street. Since forming beliefs on the basis of superstition is not an epistemically appropriate way of forming beliefs, Ingrid’s belief is not doxastically justified; nevertheless, she does have good reason to believe as she does, so she does have propositional justification for the proposition that the neighborhood is dangerous.
Since knowledge is a particularly successful kind of belief, “doxastic justification is a stronger candidate for being closely related to knowledge; the JTB theory is typically thought to invoke doxastic justification.”
THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD; TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH AND DOCTRINES.
The church in her teaching on the knowledge of God says. “God is the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason.” This claim of knowledge of God first gave a definition of God and linked God’s existence to nature and created things stating by inference that to know what he made is to know him, hence one who beholds nature, beholds God. Man’s faculties make him capable of coming to knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith. The proofs of God’s existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason.
One of the major tasks of theology is to find a rational way to speak about the mystery of God. This can be a challenging task, especially as many chasms exist between academic theology and other disciplines like psychiatry or other areas like the local parish. Yet, to admit the possibility of a ‘catastrophic chasm’ between theology and biblical studies implies a grave division at the heart of Christian reflection. The aim of book is to try to fill this tragic lacuna by way of sounding out the Bible’s epistemology. The concern is to show that the Bible is instrumental for developing Christian approaches of knowledge. An epistemological exploration of the bible is, so to speak, to find a horizon where the complexities between knowing God and biblical praxis can begin to unfold.
The key biblical terms for knowledge assume a personal familiarity, a personal experience, even an intimate involvement, with the known object. Similarly, to know God entails acknowledging him as Lord in obedience and praise. Hence making it an impossible claim for non-believers to say ‘I know God’ “As a result, human knowledge of God is decisively shaped by the fall and God’s salvation.”
AN EXAMINATION OF THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, USING THE EPISTEMOLOGICAL CONCEPTS JUSTIFICATION, TRUTH, AND BELEIF.
“Knowledge is the awareness and understanding of particular aspects of reality. It is the clear, lucid information gained through the process of reason applied to reality.” The traditional definition of knowledge notes that it is the justified, true, belief. This is in epistemology known as the three necessary and sufficient conditions for making knowledge claims. And hence one cannot say he knows, unless these three conditions are met.
The Christian claim of knowledge of God, we shall examine under the above given concepts; justification, truth and belief. With the aim of knowing if God a metaphysical reality, is truly known by the Christians, and if he is, how would the individually necessary and together sufficient conditions for making knowledge claim.
In consonance with the aim of this paper, and as way of reducing complexity, we shall discuss under the three necessary and sufficient grounds, the Christian knowledge of God. And finally unite them all and make a comparative study of them.
A TEST FOR BELIEF IN THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
The position of the condition belief which is by definition; “an attitude of taking something to be the case” is that one cannot not make knowledge claim of a thing which he doubt. This means that to say ‘i know that…’ is to say ‘i believe that…’ this condition therefore sees it as a contradiction to make knowledge claim to a thing, or an entity you do not believe in.
Bringing this to the aim of this paper, the Christians therefore cannot say they know God and at the same time claim that they do not believe God. This condition of belief is paramount in the Christian knowledge of God. Judging alone with this condition, one can easily come to the conclusion that the Christians know God. This is because the condition of belief is manifested deeply and greatly in the life, teaching, practices and doctrine of the church.
We begin our profession of faith by saying: “I believe” or “We believe”. Before expounding the Church’s faith, as confessed in the Creed, celebrated in the liturgy and lived in observance of God’s commandments and in prayer, we must first ask what “to believe” means. Faith is man’s response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life.
There is no argument on the fact that the Christians belief in God, or belief that God is. Conclusively therefore, their knowledge claim to God has inbuilt in it, this necessary condition of making knowledge claim according to the tripartite theory of knowledge.
A TEST FOR TRUTH IN THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
God must be true. To best expose this concept God and judge it under this principle, we shall first strip God of the name God and hence be able to trace it from the general to the particular.
Just as the argument of St Thomas Aquinas presents it, every action has a cause, reality itself is the effect of a cause he said we can trace this cause ad infinitum this however is a pointer to the fact that there must be a cause, which in itself is without cause. So also does the argument for motion preach
All creature are contingent beings, by contingent, existence is not in their essence or nature. Since this is, there must be a necessarily existing being that it is in its nature to exist hence existence is in its essence and it can’t but exist. The contingency and the ontological arguments in the words of Kolakowski “may be summed up as the reflection that if the world is more than a self annihilating abyss, there must be something that exists necessarily, something of which non-existence would be both a logical and ontic contradiction.”
In Christianity through doctrinal testimony the necessarily existing being, has come to be known as God. A teaching began by Christ, who is the founder of Christianity. Obviously in epistemology, testimony is an accepted ground for making knowledge claim. This testimony however must fulfill the grounds below
1. The fact of the testimony must be clear.
2. The speaker must know what he is talking about
3. The speaker must be telling the truth.
When these grounds are met, “he is recognized as being in possession of the truth, and if he tells what he knows then he puts his audience in the possession of the same truth.” This testimony was further divided into other types but for the interest of this paper, we shall look at the doctrinal testimony
Doctrinal testimony projects the same conditions for truth to be passed as earlier given, although given in different words.
1. The doctrine must be proposed as being truth,
2. Whoever proposes this must be someone who knows what he is talking about
3. It must be truthfully communicated.
In this type of testimony, the first is quite easy to establish. The doctrine here is the truth that ‘God is.’ The second ground proposes a test of the character of the individual communicating such truth. This truth of the being of the Absolute as God was propounded by Jesus Christ, a historical figure who claimed and taught not only that he knew this God but was his son. Testing the personality of Christ in search for the truth, it is important to note that the birth of Christ was surrounded by a lot of mysteries, and his activities manifested elements of the supernatural, this served as a backup to his claim, his personality however was without tint. His life therefore provided enough ground to justify his claim of knowledge of God to the Christians his teaching however cohered with the already existing teaching of One who is greater than all others. The testimony of knowledge of God by Christ further brings to play the words of Reginal F. O. Niel, which stated that “witnessing is not the only ground for accepting truth.”
A TEST FOR JUSTIFICATION IN THE CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
This condition is found in the Christian belief in its evidential form. Manifestations in the Christian life which serves as a pointer to the fact that something about them is not ordinary this they liken to the knowledge of God. This knowledge as earlier shown and epistemologically recommended is not devoid of belief.
This is made manifest in the Christian life. The Christian knowledge of God is justified by the outcome of the knowledge claim he makes to God. As shown in the daily happenings, the Christian life is filled with strange fact or supernatural fact that serves as a pointer to their belief in some supernatural force. Examples of this we shall discuss below.
Miracles: the Christian life is in occurrence of such miracle which are evidential a surprise to science and to knowledge as they defile the all odds and in a sense break the rules of nature. An example of this is the Incorruptible body of Pope St. John Paul II. This however should be noted is not the first case, of such manifestation of an attachment to something supernatural in the life of the Christians. Neither is this last, as through time and ages miracles are re-concurrent in the life of the Christians
This is further manifested in the miracle of Jesus who is himself the founder of Christianity and the source of Christian belief. Jesus during his life on earth manifested supernatural acts, example of which includes “Healing blind Bartimaeus.” “Walking on the water” etc. and other great act which by its nature defiled the laws of nature, or what is known already by man. As he himself noted, he sometimes did this that the world may belief that God sent him. By inference he did some of these as a way of justifying his claim of knowledge of God and of being his son.
Haven discussed the issue addressed in this work thus far, we shall in this part of this academic work therefore, we shall be taking a look at the salient point noted in this work.
We began by looking at the concept used in this work, starting from Christians which we noted are the followers of Christ, and as noted for the purpose of this work we shall majorly be talking about Christians in the light of the Holy Roman Catholic Church members as Roman Catholic Church is the oldest Christian church traceable to Christ. We also explained God as the supernatural and metaphysical being, in whose essence is existence. And the focus of the Christian believes.
Secondly, we looked at the tripartite theory of knowledge as famously called, we traced it to Plato’s Theaetetus, and noted that it is also referred to as the traditional definition of knowledge. This definition has in it the necessary and sufficient grounds for making knowledge claims, that is, Justification, truth an belief. We went further to clarify the concept justification, truth and belief. Justification we noted, shall be evidential in response to the goal of reaching the aim of this work, belief is given accent to a state of affair as defined already while truth we noted needs not our accent to make its component hence it is immutable and eternal.
The test for belief in the Christian knowledge of God proved positive as this is all over the life of the Christians. This is traceable in their creed as earlier noted and also clearly seen in their life. These and many other Christian doctrine, teaching and living, makes visible the condition of belief in their claim of knowledge of God as they believe strongly that God is.
Elements of the second condition necessary for making knowledge claims is also found in the Christian knowledge of God. The absence of this condition (truth) would have made the first (belief) false and false belief as we noted already cannot constitute knowledge since what is known is not actually the case. Truth is found in the Christian knowledge of God as God is a reality. This we gave a backup by looking at argument from causality and contingency. Although the being can be said to be unknown, the Christians proclaim him as known, building strongly on the doctrinal testimony of Christ.
The third which is justification, we examined from the point of view of the evidential justification. The claim of knowledge of God by the Christians is evidentially justified in their life, as to further make lucid this view, we looked at those supernatural phenomenon in the life of the Christians which are pointers to this justification. We examined miracles, as an evidential reality of the hand of a Supernatural being in the life of Christians.
Haven examined the concept of the Christian knowledge of God, and judging it by the established traditional definition of knowledge; a justified true belief, we like to conclude this paper stating that the Christians know God. This is because testing this claim of knowledge they make to God, with the three grounds which the traditional definition gave proved strong positive elements of the grounds or condition in the Christian knowledge of God.
The condition of belief pointed out the faith of the Christians, their life and their manner of conduct to denote a relationship with a being which is above all. The condition of truth pointed out that consciousness in man of a being which is greater than himself, and noting that this being, Christ have told the Christians is God and his father, a doctrinal testimony which is accepted by Christians till date. And also the condition of justification, we noted is found all over the life Christians with special reference to the supernatural occurrences in their life.
As earlier noted, this work is one of those means of proving to the layman especially those who see philosophy as the atheist tool for fighting religion that, in some way, philosophy could help one to better understand his religion. this is the latent goal of this work, using the philosophical cum epistemological concept knowledge as justified true belief, and the theological claim of knowledge of God as an example.