The Certainty of Religious truth*

[And the Fallibility of Faith]

     One of the major concepts that tend to be an underlying theme or thread of my works in both the academic and extracurricular realm is a pursuit of and a struggle for the truth. Just because a person is offended does not mean that they are in the right, especially when they are insulted by the truth; for they only have themselves to be angry with in that instance. This is partly why I never feel insulted by lies or misinformation for they are simply not true. Likewise one cannot and should not take issue with the truth. If an idea, concept, or theory turns out to be true there is no arguing with it. To waste energy in that manner is easily akin to banging one's head against the wall or repeating the same processes in an expectation of yielding a different result - which incidentally is the definition of insanity. These detachments from reality leads to a rabbit trail of epistemological disconnect.

     So embracing the truth now becomes a necessity and consequentially the only viable channel in which one should embrace reality. I often find people who make the claim that "Christianity is the foundation for their epistemic justification and knowledge." While this may [in their eyes] be a noble act of faith, I find that it is in principle inherently flawed. For the purposes of this line of thinking I will only be dealing with a posteriori knowledge. Also to be taken into consideration for the context of this is that this is just an 'out-loud' thought of sorts.

      If your world view is necessarily predicated upon and connected to your religious belief in such a manner that you 'see through a glass dimly' as a result of using that lens as your overall frame of reference, an interesting quandary seems to arise. Your knowledge of why Christianity seems to be right and just in your mind is mainly a product of what you have gleaned only after accepting Jesus Christ as your lord & savior. This is, as previously mentioned, what is referred to as a posteriori knowledge meaning that what you now know is based from experience. It is only your experience of Christianity from the lens of Christianity that now supports the main pillars of your faith. My two metaphors for this concept are 1) Like trying to pull or lift yourself up by your own hair and/or 2) Supporting a boulder with toothpicks. The proper philosophical term for this thought process is called the 'Cartesian Circle.' Its basic reasoning is that you know God exists with a certainty therefore you are capable of certainty because God exists. This pattern of reasoning functions as a retroactive reassurance mechanism.

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The Overall Claim Effectively Being Made is This:

1) How do I know what I know and How can I be certain of what I know?
2) I know God exists with a certainty; ergo I am capable of certainty;
3) Therefore because I am capable of certainty, my epistemic justifications are certain;
----[**Here Appears to Be the Jump**]----
4) and Since certainty is a finite property in my nature and reasoning abilities regarding the formation of justifications, I have been certain of my knowledge the whole time;
5) I have all along been certain so everything I know is epistemically justified; therefore certainty can be applied retroactively to what I already know, regardless of how I came to it at the time;
6) Therefore I have been right all along!

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     This works for the religious believer; as this process is the cornerstone of the faith claim. However, for Atheists, Empiricists, and/or Skeptics this process of thought cannot be conveyed. Even looking at it from a broader perspective, in regards to anybody who has not accepted Christianity or is themselves not a Christian, the logic of the believer cannot be transferred to the other. It's akin to attempting to use something that is Windows PC formatted on an Apple Mac computer; it just simply isn't compatible. But the way the typical Evangelical Christian approaches their form of Apologetic-Proselytization doesn't consider this in their approach, for whatever reason. So when you confront the believer about this, [which I have done numerous times and is itself unavoidable in the buckle of the Bible belt known as Oklahoma], they repeatedly reference the content of the Bible in the justification in regards to the validity of the Bible. It goes without saying that the contents of the Bible can be used to critique, explain, or justify what is in Bible. Here is the fatal flaw, the believer will equate what I just mentioned in the last sentence as reason to empirically justify the Bible itself; further relying on a form of The Cartesian Circle or essentially saying "It's turtles all of the way down." Again, while this may work for the believer's mind for epistemological requirements, it will not and indeed cannot suffice as justification for the Atheists, Empiricists, and/or Skeptics. Because according to them, which I also deem to be a correct and logical assertion, the Bible has to be justified, demonstrated, and proven externally from outside of anything that is espoused in the Bible.

     This shows just how futile the believers attempt to debate with the Atheists, Empiricists, and/or Skeptics is. I say this because no person, no believer can assert with 100% confidence that the requirements of this process can be sufficiently filled without invoking the phrase "you have to have faith" or something akin to that affect. The believer is attempting to establish their belief structure on an incompatible foundation. So while knowledge and understanding of one's own religious beliefs in terms of the rhetoric, dogma, and historicity therein is a noble trait, just because the believer knows about their own religious theology does not mean they are informed or knowledgeable in the realms of religions and/or philosophy. That is why in this discussion, [between the believers and  Atheists, Empiricists, and/or Skeptics], the believers revert and default back to their knowledge, dogmas, and rhetoric of their own religious tradition and think they are adequately passing it off as philosophy and knowledge of other religions. This is a false attribution of what is entailed by their understanding of their own religious knowledge caused by their strict adherence of using Christianity as their foundation for all of their epistemic knowledge. Remove the Christianity and it follows that the knowledge based upon that is also removed; and since that has to be done to externally justify the Bible without invoking its contents as proof or evidence, they are repeating the same process over and over expecting there to be a different end result from each attempt. Thus by definition they are demonstrating a key component of what we know to be 'insanity' and when summed up this attests partially to the nature of religion and demonstrates that religious belief predicated and contingent upon faith is not rational or logically justifiable. Once this is acknowledged, the conclusion indeed has to be that 'truth' can never take the place of 'Truth' and to attempt to do so verifies and further illustrates the fallibility of faith.   

[* truth is intentionally spelled with a lowercase 'T' because it is a subjective truth and not an objective truth claim. I.E. an Objective Truth is like saying the sky is blue or that matter cannot be created nor destroyed (the first law of thermodynamics); whereas a Subjective truth relates to the claims of Jesus being a savior and an incarnation of God or that the Toronto Maple Leafs are the Best hockey team of all time. ]

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