Belief and Knowledge

If the things you believe cannot be demonstrated to be true, you don’t have knowledge.

There is a difference between believing a thing is true and knowing it is true.  This is a constant problem with religious apologists because apparently, they are unaware of the difference.  In a recent poll, a theist wanted to know if atheists 100% knew that God doesn’t exist, but they also asked if theists knew 100% that God did exist.  A majority of theists said that they knew that God existed and unfortunately, a majority of atheists also said they knew that God didn’t exist, although most then clarified that most definitions of God were logically contradictory and thus, couldn’t possibly exist and I’m a little happier with that than the theists who simply declared they were right because they were right.

So we launched into a big discussion about “knowledge” vs. “belief” and why they were different, but the original poster took the coward’s way out, saying “This is just a poll thread, nobody has to prove what they believe in, you just choose what you believe in and vote.”  Then he stopped responding, as has become standard for theists in such debates.  But let’s be honest, that’s really not a good way to do things if you care about worthwhile answers.  There’s a difference between saying “I believe I can fly” and saying “I know I can fly”.  One is R. Kelly, the other is a wet smear on the pavement.

So why aren’t theists able to make this very obvious distinction?  Why are they supremely convinced that everything they believe in, they can claim knowledge of?  Knowledge requires more than just simple faith.  Knowledge requires some objective and demonstrable basis in fact.  There is a difference between a child saying “I believe in Santa Claus” and one say “I know Santa Claus is real”.  One is a simple, albeit fallible belief based on circumstantial evidence, after all, they do get presents saying they’re from Santa after all, but the other has a much higher standard of proof.  It has to, otherwise we’re just talking about the same thing with two different names. These are two different concepts and need to be treated that way.

And no, this doesn’t mean “it seems to me” is a good reason to claim knowledge, in fact, that is the opposite of knowledge. Knowledge is objective.  It exists without having to believe it.  It is something you can show to others.  A lot of theists don’t understand this, which isn’t surprising.  They’ll ask, “well, how do you know that your wife loves you?”  That’s easy, I can look at how she objectively treats me, how she behaves around me, etc.  It isn’t absolute proof but it is solid evidence that can be evaluated independently of my beliefs about her.  Of course, the most important part is, I can prove she actually exists, something theists cannot prove about their gods.  God is kind of like that really hot girlfriend that lived in Canada that guys claimed to have in high school.  That’s not knowledge, that’s delusion.

But isn’t that really all religion is?

2 thoughts on “Belief and Knowledge”

  1. I started using the word "facts" instead of truth when a believer said said to me "My truth is…blah, blah, blah". Facts (verifiable) vs. truths/beliefs(in their mind only) works for me.

    1. Unfortunately, there are a lot of theists who think "facts" and "truth" and "their beliefs" are all interchangeable. If they believe it, it has to be true and it has to be a fact because they cannot imagine ever being wrong.

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