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Fether

Faith vs Knowledge

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Been pondering this quite often, particularly around fast and testimony meetings. Many go up there and say things like "I know this is Christ's church" or "I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God." My initial thoughts have always been "You cannot know that." But I never pursue the thought beyond that because I understand the intention of what they are saying.

This last couple of weeks, however, I have begun to pursue it a little more and I have a couple of questions I would like yall's insight on. But first, a couple of scriptures on to faith put a couple of these questions into perspective:

“Faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
“If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21).

- Is to have faith greater than to have knowledge? Is it more of an impactful statement to share one's faith on a topic than their knowledge?

- Is it improper to say we know something to be true when we are explicitly asked to act on faith on that topic? (ie truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, Joseph being a prophet, Christ suffering for our sins)

- Are spiritual experiences enough for us to say that we know something?

- When we have knowledge, we say "I know X...". When we have belief, we say "I believe X...". When we have faith, do we also say "I believe X..." or is it more correct to say "I have faith in X...". I guess I don't quite understand the difference between having faith, believing something, and believing in something.

 

 

Thoughts?

Edited by Fether

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Its because we have sloppy terminology.  Faith means different things to different people.  So when having these kinds of discussions we need to agree on what terms mean.  And for defining what faith is I prefer the Lectures on Faith definition  https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/lectures-on-faith?lang=eng

It defines Faith as belief or knowledge in action... thus the statement 'acting in faith' becomes redundant.

Not everyone uses the same definition not even the scriptures which compounds the problem.

Here is an example of how it works with the definition just given.

I see the sun rise in the morning.. so I believe the sun will rise tomorrow.  I then study astronomy  and learn about the sun and how the earth spins and it is the spinning that causes the sun to appear to rise every morning... Now i have knowledge.  Now it seems clear that knowledge is better then belief.  But neither are better then Faith nor are they Faith.  Faith is when I choose to see the sun rise so I get out of bed at the correct time and look for it.  That is a set of action based on my belief or my knowledge.. when it comes to faith neither is really superior to the other in making it happen, but one of them is necessary.  

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3 hours ago, estradling75 said:

Its because we have sloppy terminology.  Faith means different things to different people.  So when having these kinds of discussions we need to agree on what terms mean.  And for defining what faith is I prefer the Lectures on Faith definition  https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/lectures-on-faith?lang=eng

It defines Faith as belief or knowledge in action... thus the statement 'acting in faith' becomes redundant.

Not everyone uses the same definition not even the scriptures which compounds the problem.

Here is an example of how it works with the definition just given.

I see the sun rise in the morning.. so I believe the sun will rise tomorrow.  I then study astronomy  and learn about the sun and how the earth spins and it is the spinning that causes the sun to appear to rise every morning... Now i have knowledge.  Now it seems clear that knowledge is better then belief.  But neither are better then Faith nor are they Faith.  Faith is when I choose to see the sun rise so I get out of bed at the correct time and look for it.  That is a set of action based on my belief or my knowledge.. when it comes to faith neither is really superior to the other in making it happen, but one of them is necessary.  

You are right, it does depend on the definition.

I guess let me ask more questions to more fully explain what I mean.

- In this life, can the average righteous latter-day saint know there is a God with the same assurance that you know the color of thier car?

- Are all the senses equally reliable in forming knowledge of something? ie if I smell a car, is that knowledge gained equal to the knowledge gained if I saw it or heard it? Which is most reliable? I would argue sight is the most reliable. If I smell it, I could just be smelling any variety of engine-based equipment. If I hear it, it similarily could be any engine from any vehicle.

- Building on the last question. Is a single spiritual experience enough to form a knowledge of God equal to the knowledge gained if you saw him face to face? What about multiple spiritual experiences? If I got a burning in my bosom every time I opened the Book of Mormon and Bible, received and gave multiple blessings of healings that ended miraculously, and received great answers to my prayers every night, would that produce the same assurance of God as seeing him face to face?

- Alma 32: 21 "faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye b5hope for things which are not seen, which are true." Does perfect knowledge come from sight?

Here is my biggest question and the core of why I am pondering all this.

- Is there, and how much, value can you get from admitting that you don't know there is a God (the same way you know the color of your car), but believe and have faith there is a God. Are we doing ourselves a disservice in asserting at the pulpit that we know there is a God. Are we undervaluing the power of faith when we consciously (or unconsciously) choose to say "know" instead of "have faith"? I feel as though the biggest aspect of faith is that it is NOT knowledge. I feel like scriptures make that fairly clear... Yet we (including our leaders) still use the word know. And often time use it as if it is more powerful than having a faith.

 

I am hoping this sheds more light on what I am trying to figure out. I know we can get caught up in definitions and philosophical meaning behind faith, knowledge, assurance, etc... but I hope we don't go beyond what is needed.

Edited by Fether

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Alma's remarks that you mentioned answer this question. If you have tested your faith by planting a seed, and it grows and bears fruit, then you have faith no longer...for you now know it was a good seed. There is no way you can doubt it when you are eating the good fruit. The Lord has also said that a good fountain cannot bring forth bitter water.

Sight can bring perfect knowledge, and it can enhance faith, but, it does not guarantee faith...Laman, Lemuel, Judas, and the 3 book of Mormon witnesses are examples of this.

I have never seen an oxygen atom, but I have studied about it from books and those who have worked with it. I am also a recipient of it's benefits every day. I know it is a real element despite never having seen it.

I have never seen God in the flesh, but, a combination of many things (blessings that have come from keeping commandments, spiritual testimony of the Holy Ghost, fulfilled scripture and other prophecies, multiple series of crazy events that I'll just call "too much to be coincidences", answered prayers, miraculous priesthood blessings, etc...) lets me know there is a God.

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I thought I'd weigh in as the study of faith has been a pet pursuit of mine and I have what I like to think of as insight into it.

First, "faith" is often conflated with "belief". But they're not the same thing. We are commanded to believe. That is its own principle. We are also commanded to have faith. That is a different principle. In point of fact, believing is an act of faith. But so is the following of all council and command. In fact having faith is an act of faith.

The best word to describe faith that I've come up with is "commitment". So why not just say commitment? Well, because faith contains the idea that it is without a sure knowledge. It is a commitment to despite sure knowledge. I think that's  the best way I've come up with understanding it. We could also use terms like loyalty, belief in*, dedication to, etc., and they are all tied together.

*"Belief" or "belief in" can be synonymous with faith if one understands that to mean something more than simply "believing they exist" but actually believing in as in trusting in, committed to the idea of, dedicated to the reality of, etc. So despite the fact that I started by saying faith is conflated with belief and they're not the same, I must confess that what I really mean is that I think most people tend to conflate the complexity of faith with the simplicity of "I believe that God exists", which isn't faith at all -- as clearly demonstrated by the fact that Satan himself believes God exists, and yet clearly has no faith in Him. But believing that God has power to save, loves us, has all power, all knowledge, will keep His word, etc., etc... well that's a more complex idea that ties in more directly with the idea of faith...but... one can believe in all those things and still abandon their commitment to God, and thereby show no faith.

When I was a kid I would often look at Hebrews 11:1 thinking it was a definitional statement of faith. But I think it's pretty clear that it is not. It's simply saying that faith (commitment) is the substance of (reason for) things hoped for. Or in other words, we have hope because of faith. That's not defining faith.

The same thing with "If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true". Not a definition. Just  a statement of logic and reality.

9 hours ago, Fether said:

- Is to have faith greater than to have knowledge?

Yes. (Depending on what you mean by "greater than"). More important in this life? Yes.

9 hours ago, Fether said:

Is it more of an impactful statement to share one's faith on a topic than their knowledge?

That probably depends on the receiver and what impacts them more.

9 hours ago, Fether said:

- Is it improper to say we know something to be true when we are explicitly asked to act on faith on that topic?

Not if we know something. Why would it be improper to say we know something if we know something, and who are you to claim those saying they know something don't really know it?

9 hours ago, Fether said:

Are spiritual experiences enough for us to say that we know something?

Yes. More so that witnessing something with our own eyes. Much more so.

9 hours ago, Fether said:

When we have knowledge, we say "I know X...". When we have belief, we say "I believe X...". When we have faith, do we also say "I believe X..." or is it more correct to say "I have faith in X...".

I think the third. Faith isn't knowledge or belief. It exists alongside those things. But I think it's a mistake to suggest that saying "I know X..." is inherently flawed. It's not. But the idea that one shouldn't say "I know" if they don't has some validity. If one means "I trust in and am committed to despite not knowing" then that might be the better thing to say. Maybe.

5 hours ago, Fether said:

In this life, can the average righteous latter-day saint know there is a God with the same assurance that you know the color of thier car?

Yes. Moreso.

5 hours ago, Fether said:

Are all the senses equally reliable in forming knowledge of something? ie if I smell a car, is that knowledge gained equal to the knowledge gained if I saw it or heard it? Which is most reliable? I would argue sight is the most reliable. If I smell it, I could just be smelling any variety of engine-based equipment. If I hear it, it similarily could be any engine from any vehicle.

Considering color blindness, the way light works, and examples of "the blue dress or the white dress" etc., I'd say your suggestion that sight is the most reliable is quite flawed.

5 hours ago, Fether said:

Is a single spiritual experience enough to form a knowledge of God equal to the knowledge gained if you saw him face to face?

Seeing God face to face has nothing to do with faith.

I would directly you to the examples of Laman and Lemuel who experienced direct interactions with God and angels and still did not have faith.

I would also direct you to a myriad of examples of people who've had countless spiritual experiences but then fall away and leave the church. Because they lacked faith.

Testimony is not faith. A witness is the witnessing of. That is all. If one has had an experience, one can testify they've had it. That doesn't mean they trust it, believe it, don't deny it ever, don't turn their backs on it, etc., etc.

Seeing God face to face doesn't ensure anything but further damnation for the wicked.

5 hours ago, Fether said:

"faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye b5hope for things which are not seen, which are true." Does perfect knowledge come from sight?

I think "seen" here isn't meaning literally with the eyes. It strikes me it's more generic. When you know, you know. When you have faith your are committed to, despite not knowing fully. When you know fully, you probably (and this is my best reasoning on the matter) don't need "faith" any more because you then have commitment with full understanding, and I think faith (at least per these scriptures) is being defined as commitment without full understanding.

That being said, as @estradling75 said, it (faith) doesn't seem to be 100% definitionally consistent in usage. And there is certainly an argument to be made that one maintains faith even when having full knowledge and understanding. But not in the way Alma used the term, it seems.

But as to the question, does perfect knowledge come from sight?" Absolutely not. There is nothing more reliable than the pure light and knowledge from God given to us as spiritual revelation. Nothing more concrete. No communication more perfect. Without it, we are lost.

5 hours ago, Fether said:

Is there, and how much, value can you get from admitting that you don't know there is a God (the same way you know the color of your car), but believe and have faith there is a God.

This is valuable if it is true. But I'd contend that claiming one knows the color of a car from looking at it but doesn't know if the Book of Mormon is true despite spiritual confirmation that it is is a very flawed premise.

5 hours ago, Fether said:

Are we doing ourselves a disservice in asserting at the pulpit that we know there is a God.

Once again...who are you to say who "knows" what? Speak for yourself.

5 hours ago, Fether said:

Are we undervaluing the power of faith when we consciously (or unconsciously) choose to say "know" instead of "have faith"?

The two are not mutually exclusive in my view. I know certain things because of revelation. I also have faith in things. I don't undermine the one by the other. They are both true. I testify of what I know. That's what testimony means. I experienced. I witnessed. I felt. Etc. I testify of those things. That's what bearing testimony is. Saying I believe something that I haven't experienced IS NOT A TESTIMONY. What kind of witness would that make?

"Did you see the murder happen?"

"No. But I believe that John did it."

That's not a testimony.

5 hours ago, Fether said:

I feel as though the biggest aspect of faith is that it is NOT knowledge.

Why is that the biggest aspect?

I believe, as I've explained, the biggest aspect of faith is commitment. The knowledge relationship to it ties in...but not, I think, what really what makes or breaks faith. Faith is a choice. If it wasn't a choice then it couldn't be a commandment. We would have no agency in the matter. We couldn't be held accountable for not having it.

5 hours ago, Fether said:

Yet we (including our leaders) still use the word know

Because we're speaking of what we "know".

(I do understand that there are some who say they know when they don't. But I think you're mistaken to assume that's the typical case.)

5 hours ago, Fether said:

And often time use it as if it is more powerful than having a faith.

This is an interesting thing worth thinking about. I'll think about it. ;)

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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Recently in the Come Follow Me program we studied the Gifts of the Spirit.  D&C 46

Quote

 

13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.

 

If it is a gift of the spirit "To Know" and "To believe" it seems pretty presumptuous for us to require or declare that someones "Knowing" is a false idea because they did not see with there eyes or hear with their ears... and that they Only really just believe.  It seems to deny the Gifts of the Spirit.

On a more practical note... Using my example of the Sun Rising...  How many times do I have to see the sun rise before it is acceptable to say "I know the Sun will rise" if I do not know why?  It seems to me constant tiny confirmations adds up, but I can't say when it crosses over because its probably different for everyone.

That being said its very possible that there are some people out there are saying "I know" when they don't... and others that doubt what they know because it did not come in some powerful ways.

 

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Knowledge is nothing more than experience. When we experience something we then know it (to a greater or lesser degree based on the experience). Things we experience with our physical senses we more easily put stock in, not because they are superior to our spiritual sense but because our physical senses are active practically 24/7 and we thus gain a lot of experience with them where as engaging our spiritual sense is not necessarily automatic and takes effort and practice to both engage and maintain. But with work it can become far superior to our physical senses (at least those of our current fallen form). So as we experience things with our senses (physical or spiritual) we come to know things and as we come to know things we then use that knowledge to create a framework about those things we do not yet know. This created framework is faith. A belief about the unknown but based on things we do know. As we then act on that faith we continue to have more experience and thus gain greater knowledge which allows us to more perfectly project (have faith in) that which we have not yet experienced. I think that phrase "more perfectly" is critical because both faith and knowledge come by degrees. As soon as I have experience I can say I know but it's not to the same extent as that following years of "proving" that knowledge with many more experiences. So we shouldn't be overly critical about what people declare they know nor should we try to draw a hard line between what we have faith in and what we know because they are elements of spiritual growth that build off of each other. 

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@laronius @mirkwood @mikbone @The Folk Prophet @scottyg @estradling75

All are excerpts from Alma 32

"faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."
"Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away. And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand."
"Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you."


To me, it seems Alma 32 talks about having perfect knowledge in that "thing" you did. When you plant a seed, the seed represents a particular action asked of us by the presumed God. That the experiences you have teach you that a certain thing is good and that we can know that doing said thing is good. So I can buy into that. I know that living the word of wisdom is good. I know that reading my scriptures every day is good. I know that prayer works, at least in helping me find ways to fix my own problems. But it says my knowledge is not perfect. It seems to be suggesting that we can know individual principles are good, and by learning that, we can grow our faith in the source (Christ, the Book of Mormon, Prophets, etc.). But we will not have perfect knowledge in this life for that. We must act on faith that they will continue to offer us spiritual strength and will not lead us astray. In the end, we reap the rewards of our faith. Not our knowledge. Knowledge seems to only cement in what we have faith in, but does not replace it. We can know a principle is good and it brings happiness, but we cannot know there is a God. We must have faith in Christ, and that faith leads us to be christlike.

Are there other ways I ought to understand the reference of "perfect knowledge" and "knowledge [that] is perfec in that thing"?

Edited by Fether

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13 hours ago, estradling75 said:

Recently in the Come Follow Me program we studied the Gifts of the Spirit.  D&C 46

If it is a gift of the spirit "To Know" and "To believe" it seems pretty presumptuous for us to require or declare that someones "Knowing" is a false idea because they did not see with there eyes or hear with their ears... and that they Only really just believe.  It seems to deny the Gifts of the Spirit.

On a more practical note... Using my example of the Sun Rising...  How many times do I have to see the sun rise before it is acceptable to say "I know the Sun will rise" if I do not know why?  It seems to me constant tiny confirmations adds up, but I can't say when it crosses over because its probably different for everyone.

That being said its very possible that there are some people out there are saying "I know" when they don't... and others that doubt what they know because it did not come in some powerful ways.

 

I would emphasize the "To some" part of the scripture. There are surely some out there that have not only felt the influence of Holy Ghost, but have received Christ, spoken to him face to face, and experienced him in his fullness. Brother of Jared, Moses, etc. I do not doubt those testimonies. My concern is more so in the vast majority of saints and their use of the phrase "I know there is a God". 
Now I am still engaging in this conversation so perhaps my understanding of knowledge will grow. But I still don't think we can know there is a God in the same sense that I know that my car is black or that I know how there is a state called "Colorado".

The way people talk about God gives this away too. I have a close friend that asserts he KNOWS there is a God (had a similar conversation as this) and was bringing up similar points as shared here. On a separate occasion, he said "If I discovered one day that the church was false, I would still stay a member. Same with God, if it was somehow revealed to me one day that there was no God, I would remain in this church because of how it has changed my life." He wouldn't bring up that argument if he really KNEW there was a God and that this church was true. It would be silly to plan a trip to Colorado and then say "And if we get to Colorado and all we see if a giant square black bit where it should be, then we will just find another place to go". You wouldn't say that because no believing  Colorado exists is absurd.

As for the sun rising. That is one of those knowledges that we ought not concern ourselves about, that it is a reasonable assumption that it will rise. Similar to "I know that I need oxygen to survive". I don't KNOW that... but it is an easy enough assumption to follow that so far seems to be true. But I have no need to experiment on that. One can make the same argument about believing in Christ. It is a safe assumption that isn't worth arguing about... However, that is not the same as knowing the color of your car or that a certain location exists.

So you are right. we don't KNOW the sun will rise, it is just a safe assumption that I have no reason to doubt due to experience.

Edited by Fether

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@Fether,

  • I absolutely believe that many people get up to the pulpit and say they know when they don't really.  They just have a lot of faith.
  • I absolutely believe that many people get up to the pulpit and say that they know -- and they really do

For you to judge them on their testimonies is pretty presumptuous.  Give people the benefit of the doubt.  It would be more profitable for both you and them if you would ask for a private conversation with any of them or all of them (one at a time) and ask how they got to the point where they "know" because you'd like to get to that point too.

Whether they are really there or not should not be your goal.  You're not their judge.  But whatever they say, prayerfully consider how you might emulate their paths and see if it helps you to "know."

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1 hour ago, Carborendum said:

@Fether,

  • I absolutely believe that many people get up to the pulpit and say they know when they don't really.  They just have a lot of faith.
  • I absolutely believe that many people get up to the pulpit and say that they know -- and they really do

For you to judge them on their testimonies is pretty presumptuous.  Give people the benefit of the doubt.  It would be more profitable for both you and them if you would ask for a private conversation with any of them or all of them (one at a time) and ask how they got to the point where they "know" because you'd like to get to that point too.

Whether they are really there or not should not be your goal.  You're not their judge.  But whatever they say, prayerfully consider how you might emulate their paths and see if it helps you to "know."

 

I’m not sitting in the pew grumbling about how they dont REALLY know, that bro. Jones isn’t spiritual enough to KNOW, and how they need to not be so silly as to thinking they know or not.
 

I’m simply challenging the fact that we CAN know that there is a God (outside of extremely unique circumstances) . Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge. It is to hope for things without there being evidence.

My hypothesis is simply that there is great strength and wisdom in acknowledging that we don’t know there is a God and yet we still choose to act in faith. 

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11 minutes ago, Fether said:

I’m simply challenging the fact that we CAN know that there is a God (outside of extremely unique circumstances) . Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge. It is to hope for things without there being evidence.

Which is the judgmental idea that many of us are talking about.  You are basically calling the vast majority of those saying "I know" to be lying or at the very least mistaken, even if you do not really mean to.

16 minutes ago, Fether said:

My hypothesis is simply that there is great strength and wisdom in acknowledging that we don’t know there is a God and yet we still choose to act in faith. 

The first Principle of the Gospel is not Knowledge is it Faith...  People who get hung up on Knowledge (either for or against) are hung up.  And if it damages Faith then repentance becomes necessary

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4 hours ago, Fether said:

I’m not sitting in the pew grumbling about how they dont REALLY know, that bro. Jones isn’t spiritual enough to KNOW, and how they need to not be so silly as to thinking they know or not.

It sure sounds like it here:

On 5/31/2021 at 6:55 AM, Fether said:

Many go up there and say things like "I know this is Christ's church" ...

My initial thoughts have always been "You cannot know that."

Sounds like it to me.

Quote

I’m simply challenging the fact that we CAN know that there is a God (outside of extremely unique circumstances).

I disagree.

Quote

My hypothesis is simply that there is great strength and wisdom in acknowledging that we don’t know there is a God and yet we still choose to act in faith. 

There is great strength in acknowledging the truth about what we know or don't know.  -- Agreed.

The fact that we can act in faith without pure knowledge can also provide strength.  -- Agreed.

Even though you have put conditions and explanations and all the qualifiers you have done, you're underlying premise is that none of us "know" there is a God.  -- I disagree.

Edited by Carborendum

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On 5/31/2021 at 7:55 AM, Fether said:

Been pondering this quite often, particularly around fast and testimony meetings. Many go up there and say things like "I know this is Christ's church" or "I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God." My initial thoughts have always been "You cannot know that." But I never pursue the thought beyond that because I understand the intention of what they are saying.

This last couple of weeks, however, I have begun to pursue it a little more and I have a couple of questions I would like yall's insight on. But first, a couple of scriptures on to faith put a couple of these questions into perspective:

“Faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
“If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21).

- Is to have faith greater than to have knowledge? Is it more of an impactful statement to share one's faith on a topic than their knowledge?

- Is it improper to say we know something to be true when we are explicitly asked to act on faith on that topic? (ie truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, Joseph being a prophet, Christ suffering for our sins)

- Are spiritual experiences enough for us to say that we know something?

- When we have knowledge, we say "I know X...". When we have belief, we say "I believe X...". When we have faith, do we also say "I believe X..." or is it more correct to say "I have faith in X...". I guess I don't quite understand the difference between having faith, believing something, and believing in something.

Thoughts?

I think it might help to compare "having faith, believing something, and believing in something" with "having knowledge, knowing something, and knowing in something."

On the surface, "knowing in something" may not seem to make much sense. But we can know in something just as we have faith in something. For example, "I know in my heart that God lives. I know in my testimony that God lives. I know in the scriptures/covenants/ordinances/doctrines/commandments that God lives."

This suggests that faith and knowledge are two forms of the same thing -- they are certainly part of the same spiritual dynamic described in Alma 32. Faith and foreknowledge have the same power and effect, as do faith and testimony of things as they are, and as do faith and seeing through or beyond the Veil. Knowledge of things as they are to come, as they are, and as they were is a definition of truth, and the assurance of this truth is a definition of faith. Assurance and knowledge cannot exist apart from each other, otherwise the knowledge is in vain and the faith is in vain.

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On 5/31/2021 at 4:55 AM, Fether said:

Thoughts?

I've often pondered on the topic of faith versus knowledge. I considered responding to the OP at some length, but I realized that my own thoughts were unclear and muddled. So instead I'll post something short, more in line with any insights I might have.

What does it mean "to know" something? If you're a physics undergraduate, do you "know" Newton's laws? If so, what does that mean? Does it mean:

  • You can recite Newton's Laws?
  • You can explain Newton's Laws?
  • You can use Newton's Laws to solve physics problems?
  • You have independently derived Newton's Laws based on experimental data you have collected?
  • You grasp the underlying physical reality of the universe that leads inexorably to Newton's Laws?

The above ideas represent a progression of "knowledge". At each stage, you might be able to honestly proclaim, "I know Newton's Laws!" But being able to recite Newton's Laws is not the same level of knowledge as being able to explain them, which is certainly less than being able to use them, which is a far cry from being able to derive them, which is much less than understanding actual physical reality. And what of Einsteinian relativity? If you "know" Newton's Laws, does that mean you must reject Einstein?

A child says, "I know my Heavenly Father loves me." If you ask him how he knows that, maybe he'll respond, "Because my parents told me." Is this not knowledge?

A youth says, "I know my Heavenly Father loves me." If you ask him how he knows that, maybe he'll respond, "Because I have pored over my scriptures and they affirm God's love for me." Is this not knowledge?

A young man says, ""I know my Heavenly Father loves me." If you ask him how he knows that, maybe he'll respond, "Because I have prayed sincerely, and I have dreamed and received into my heart the knowledge that God loves me." Is this not knowledge?

A middle-aged man says, "I know my Heavenly Father loves me." If you ask him how he knows that, maybe he'll respond, "Because I have seen his love expressed in my life as I have tried to follow him." Is this not knowledge?

An old man says, "I know my Heavenly Father loves me." If you ask him how he knows that, maybe he'll respond, "Because that is the nature of God." Is this not knowledge?

At what point above can the boy or man honestly say in testimony, "I know God loves me"? I suggest that he can honestly proclaim that at any of the above stages. But what if he doubts God's love? Can he still honestly make the proclamation? I don't know, but I think that's a fidgety point.

I occasionally hear people say, "A testimony is found in the bearing of it." In my younger years, I didn't really like that idea, because it violated my model of cause and effect. It seemed dishonest to me to claim a "knowledge" that only came as you said so. It seemed a form of self-deception. But as a middle-aged man, I don't agree with my younger self. I think there is wisdom in the saying.

An easy way to encapsulate this is to claim that "faith versus knowledge" is really a continuum. But I think that's too easy, not really precise enough. Rather, I think that faith and knowledge are not merely complementary, but two sides of the same coin. Faith presupposes some level of knowledge, and you cannot gain knowledge without faith.

Maybe I could have organized this mini-essay better. Maybe someone else can now. But those are some of my thoughts, for whatever they're worth.

Edited by Vort

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2 hours ago, Vort said:

An easy way to encapsulate this is to claim that "faith versus knowledge" is really a continuum. But I think that's too easy, not really precise enough. Rather, I think that faith and knowledge are not merely complementary, but two sides of the same coin. Faith presupposes some level of knowledge, and you cannot gain knowledge without faith.

This is probably where I’m stuck at. On a few occasions I have heard people say “I KNOW that there is a God.” As if to emphasize  that knowing there is a God is far superior than believing or having faith that there is one.

Is knowledge meant to take the place of faith? Can we “act in faith” on something that we know, or is it just logical action at that point?

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2 minutes ago, Fether said:

This is probably where I’m stuck at. On a few occasions I have heard people say “I KNOW that there is a God.” As if to emphasize  that knowing there is a God is far superior than believing or having faith that there is one.

Is knowledge meant to take the place of faith? Can we “act in faith” on something that we know, or is it just logical action at that point?

I can't speak for what other people mean when they say, "I know God lives." Only they can tell what they mean, if they even know themselves.

But when you hear someone say "I know God lives", consider interpreting it to mean, "I have a deep, abiding faith that God lives, based on my personal experiences. I feel a sureness that God lives that is as real to me as the fact that I'm standing here saying this."

Mark Twain is credited as having said, "It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so." Much of what we "know" just ain't so. Our mortal "knowledge" is flawed six ways from Tuesday. But I believe that spiritual knowledge can in some cases transcend our mortal experience. I believe that we might literally "know" that God lives in a more sure manner than we "know" anything else. So the testimonial proclamation of knowledge may sometimes be a more sure and true knowledge than any other. Just something to consider.

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14 minutes ago, Vort said:

I can't speak for what other people mean when they say, "I know God lives." Only they can tell what they mean, if they even know themselves.

But when you hear someone say "I know God lives", consider interpreting it to mean, "I have a deep, abiding faith that God lives, based on my personal experiences. I feel a sureness that God lives that is as real to me as the fact that I'm standing here saying this."

Mark Twain is credited as having said, "It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so." Much of what we "know" just ain't so. Our mortal "knowledge" is flawed six ways from Tuesday. But I believe that spiritual knowledge can in some cases transcend our mortal experience. I believe that we might literally "know" that God lives in a more sure manner than we "know" anything else. So the testimonial proclamation of knowledge may sometimes be a more sure and true knowledge than any other. Just something to consider.

My concern isn’t so much what is said, but rather how should I approach my own belief and what the goal should be. Is a knowledge that there is a God greater than having faith that there is a God?

Is there a greater value in knowing the Book of Mormon is the word of God than simply having faith that it is so? I understand it is all definitions at this point so maybe my question isn’t complete 

Edited by Fether

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I think My biggest disconnect comes down to knowledge and faith. I have gone my whole life understanding that the are not necessarily opposite, but one cannot have faith in something that they know for a surety. I finally found a scripture I was looking for. 
 

ether 3:19

”because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.”

His knowledge allowed him to see God, but seeing God have him a perfect knowledge and he no longer had faith.

his faith was overcome by his perfect knowledge.

Can someone explain the relation between knowledge and faith here?

 

Edited by Fether

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43 minutes ago, Fether said:

Is knowledge meant to take the place of faith? Can we “act in faith” on something that we know, or is it just logical action at that point?

Faith should eventually lead to perfect knowledge in something...whether the results are good or bad. However, in terms of spiritual things, once that knowledge is obtained the need for faith still exists...it does not just disappear or become irrelevant.

Example 1: in the premortal existence, all knew that our Heavenly Father was God, and that His plan centered around a Savior. Amongst other reasons, undoubtedly there were some who (even though they had knowledge) lacked the faith to accept the plan laid out before them. They knowingly chose another voice over the Father's, many likely due to having little faith in Him, or the Christ that would come. Knowledge alone did them no good.

Example 2: I, and many others, know that keeping the law of tithing brings blessings, but it still takes faith to keep this commandment throughout our lives. Even though we may pay it due to our knowledge, we are still exercising faith. Losing faith will eventually allow the natural man to take over, and a myriad of reasons (excuses) not to keep it, or any other commandment, will overpower your past knowledge.

Once we enter in at the gate, all is not done. Enduring to the end requires faith. Contrary to what many believe, knowledge is not permanent - it can be lost when you do not use it. Spiritual knowledge usually becomes lost when faith is lost.

 

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What is the transformation of faith to knowledge with the Brother of Jared? Or even what the brother of Jared knew pre and post witnessing of God’s finger. Obviously he had been communicating with God, their tongues were not confound, had seen a cloud lead him through the wilderness, and was speaking openly with some disembodied version of God… yet despite all this, it wasn’t till he saw the physical form of God and then saw him face to face did his level of knowledge exceed his faith to the point where his faith was gone entirely.

Ether 3:19

”because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.”

It seems to me that there is a transformation that happens where once you see God. A transformation that doesn’t occur with feelings, miracles or hearing. This is an example of knowing there is a God as surely as you know there is a car in the parking lot. Am I miss reading the situation?

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I have suggested more than once that faith is a multifaceted gem. In Ether, we learn that the brother of Jared "had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting." Yet Acts 6:8 speaks of "Stephen, full of faith and power". Did Stephen's power come from his lack of knowledge? Clearly not. More to the point, 1 Corinthians 10:13 states that "God is faithful". Must we therefore assume that God is doubting, lacking somehow in knowledge? Absurd.

Faithfulness is not a condition of ignorance, but of enlightenment. True, the scriptures sometimes contrast "faith" with "knowledge"; but as I've mentioned above, that is not a uniform scriptural teaching. The Lectures on Faith talk a great deal about what faith is and how it is used. Through faith, great miracles are wrought. Think of the greatest Miracle-Worker ever, and then remember Ether 12:16: "Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith..."

Faith is much  more than mere ersatz knowlege, some kind of placeholder for real understanding. Faith is power.

Edited by Vort

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1 hour ago, Fether said:

It seems to me that there is a transformation that happens where once you see God. A transformation that doesn’t occur with feelings, miracles or hearing. 

You probably don't realize it.  But you're implying that these are mutually exclusive. 

What the BoJ experienced was not merely a physical sense of God's appearance.  It was a spirit-to-spirit communication of profound and eternal truth.  It was "pure knowledge" that has little to do with sight.

Think about it.  He saw a finger.  He KNEW it was the finger of the Lord.  How?  How does seeing "a finger" give you pure knowledge that it is the Lord's Finger? There HAD to be additional facets to the experience beyond sight alone.

Quote

...in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.

 -- Bruce R. McConkie, The Purifying Power of Gethsemane

Think about it.  By the definitions you're using, how can we ever have knowledge that Jesus is our Savior?  That's not something that you can "see" with your eyes.  it is an understanding and an acceptance of a truth that can ONLY be communicated by the Spirit. 

Edited by Carborendum

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