Christian Living

How do you know what you know?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a crisis of faith that involved how you know what you know. I remember in college when we were covering epistemology (how you know what you know) coming down for breakfast one morning and announcing I was having an existential crisis 🙂

It still makes me smile even though it felt so serious at the time. How we know what we know is a serious matter. It’s the underpinnings of everything in a lot of ways. How do you know that you exist? How do you know that I exist? How do I know that this computer exists? What about the library table I’m blogging from?

And what about the Bible? Without a solid method of figuring out what’s real and what’s not, there’s no reason to hang onto the truth found there. These no reason even to believe in a God or in truth itself. And from there, we all devolve into not having any best way to live, we’re ships adrift in a strange sea without a compass.

I hope you can see why it’s important to know how you know what you know.

So how do we know what we know?

We don’t. Not without there being someone who can tell us what’s true. We need a third-person perspective on the nature of reality in order to know what’s true. Like the fish in a fishbowl. They don’t even know that they’re in water because it’s what they live in (I actually expound on this in my book, Tales from a Spacious Place). Or like the characters in a book who can’t know everything. It’s impossible for us to know everything about our universe. We need someone to tell us about it. We also need a creator who created the world to have coherence with our senses–a world where we can learn about what’s true through what we see, hear, touch, taste, smell, and feel (sixth sense sort of feeling). Without that, I may perceive this table as smooth and hard whereas you may perceive it as fluffy.

This is why God’s transcendence is one of my absolute things about God! Transcendence means He is completely other than everything else. He has a true third-person perspective on reality. He created the universe and knows all there is to know about it. He is outside of our “water” (time), and able to see things from the beginning to the end. He knows people’s hearts. There’s nothing that He doesn’t know.

Which is why we can know stuff. He provides methods for us to learn about His creation: our senses, the Bible, and inventions He’s given us the materials and ingenuity to create (microscopes, telescopes, x-ray machines, etc., etc.).

This week on our podcast, Epic Every Day, we got to talk about how all truth is God’s truth. That’s such a huge part of my worldview. If I didn’t believe God had created ways for us to learn truth, I think I would never get out of bed. My soul shrivels up when I’m not doing things that matter, and I’d go nuts if I had no idea what was important.

One of my friends and I were talking about how confusing it is when your parents tell you something is both true and not-true. It leaves you unsure of your own judgment. If someone you trust tells you that something is white and you think it’s black, you question yourself. If they consistently give you conflicting information, it’s impossible for you to trust that you’ve got things right at any given time.

Some of you have had parents like that. But God isn’t that way. He tells us truth. And that gives us the foundation to be able to explore, to study, to learn, to grow. To do things that matter.

God is also a God who listens, so if there’s something we don’t understand, He’s more than willing to answer. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NIV). I’m continually in awe of the fact that God doesn’t tell us how dumb our questions are. He doesn’t make little sarcastic comments when we ask for help. He’s patient and tender with us, like a loving Father with the child He delights in (Prov. 3:11-12).

I love that we can ask God to tell us about life!

Knowing how I know what I know is why God’s transcendence is one of my absolute favorite things about God.

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