Other ways of knowing?

I’ve been reading a thread entitled Are Religious Scientists Being Inconsistent? and was prompted to respond but not being a scholar (true in all senses of the word!) and unable to post in that forum, I thought I’d ask it in “Conversation”.

Daniel Ang makes the bold statement:

In my worldview, science is ultimately subsumed into a larger epistemological framework that has more “tools” at its disposal to “detect” entities not detectable in science (such as God). Rather than compartmentalization, I would describe it as integration .

In response to Daniel’s later comment:

… it seems obvious to me that there are some things science is incapable of explaining, such as morality, metaphysics, history, the foundations of science itself, and qualia.

John Harshman points out:

That may well be true, but the real question is whether anything else is capable of explaining them either.

So are there other ways of knowing? Are there other ways of finding out what goes on in the world without resorting to our sensory inputs; touching, feeling, smelling, testing, measuring?

Using the slightly pejorative metaphor of tobacco addiction I’d point out that, with regard to religion, I’m a non-smoker. I never learned to like the taste.


Just to add a clarification - I think science is simplest described as a process of model building and testing. Stories can also be in the form of model building and I see no problem with a model starting out as a leap of imagination or intuition. But testing? How else to know if your model is useful or at all accurate?

I have seen too many of these “science/secularism/atheism/physicalism” can’t explain/account for/solve the problem of X. The implication being that the person declaring this can explain X using theism/christianity/immaterialism/whatever.

Invariably they can’t either when put to even the slightest rational scrutiny.

You can’t derive an ought form an is with God, so you can’t get morality from that either.
You can’t explain how you could know you’re not a brain in a vat, so the problem of solipsism has no non-question begging solution on theism either.
You can’t explain how consciousness works or interacts with matter or physical bodies or how it comes into existence with God.

And so on and so forth. Stop pretending theism can do any better on any of these questions.


I’ll save us all from a long, pointless and unenlightening thread:

Here all the ways we have of knowing things:

Direct observation (“It is raining out.” “The speed limit is 55 MPH.”)
Learning a skill such as playing a musical instrument or speaking a language thru imitation of and teaching from someone who already has this skill

There are no others.

Theists and immaterialists who disagree may simply make justifiable additions to this list. Otherwise, they can simply keep quiet to avoid the aforementioned long, pointless and unenlightening thread. Listing some of things which cannot be known by any of the above methods will contribute nothing to this discussion.



… therefore when you just strongly feel like you know something, you really do actually know it. QED.

Yep, that’s the gist of it.

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Though it hasn’t been something I’ve pursued much in internet conversations, on the odd time it has come up there has been a distinct lack of examples.

What other ways of knowing are there?

What can you know from these other ways of knowing?

Playing devil’s advocate for a moment (and not having the philosophical grounding in logic that seems standard in US education) [how does logic]* help in gaining knowledge of the world?

Oops *added missing text in edit

Scientism debates? Objectivity of morality? La Meme chose. (circumflex omitted because I do not know html for it without empirical research).

You can’t do science without it. Also, we can know whether certain propositions are true or false within a system of knowledge.

I wonder. I can see where a logical approach would facilitate hypothesis construction but it’s the testing where the knowledge gain occurs, no?.

Does science deal in truth? I thought it dealt in more accurate models.

La même chose? Pareil, peut-être! :upside_down_face:

That’s probably the biggest and longest ongoing debate in philosophy. Are there meaningful differences between knowledge, belief, and faith?

I think the best we can do is set out rules for what constitutes knowledge in a specific school of thought (i.e. an epistemology), and then couch our conclusions within the context of that school of thought. For science, knowledge is defined by the scientific method. However, people can certainly adopt different methods of gaining knowledge.

I would also add that convincing yourself and convincing others are very different things. You determine what you believe, but what convinces you may not convince others. This is the sharp end of the stick within the debate on knowledge and belief.

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If there is a better word than “true” to use for a conclusion that follows from a valid deductive argument, then that would be what I am referring to here.

I am influenced by Isaac Asimov who (among many other achievements) wrote:

The Relativity of Wrong

Evidence? I think knowledge is based on evidence. Faith, I would suggest, is belief without evidence.

What qualifies as evidence? What qualifies as faith? These questions depend on the epistemology you are using. I think it is more important to ask what are the valid or justifiable methods for acquiring knowledge. It’s not a question of what we know, but how we know it.


Since you have never experienced God’s special providence (as opposed to general providence), you omit it from your considerations. You are only precluding it based on your experience of not experiencing it, so to speak.

@jongarvey, may I call on you again? :slightly_smiling_face:

Using the always apt chair illustration, I think you are mistaken. Your experience tells you that a certain design of chair is reliable and will not collapse under you when you sit on one. You have evidence. You have belief it will hold you and exercise faith it will when you sit on one in another setting (sorry about ‘setting’, but not too much :slightly_smiling_face:). Should it collapse for whatever reason, then your knowledge was limited, your belief was mistaken and your faith was in vain.