Welcome to tomthinking.com Thursday, March 22 2018 @ 12:01 PM UTC
How Can We Know Anything?
In the last chapter of his book, Why There Is No God, author Armin Navabi takes on the phenomenon of extreme skepticism. This is an argument, which states that it is impossible to really know something, or for our perceptions to align with reality, if there is such a thing as reality. Navabi explains, "If we cannot truly know anything, then anything could be true."
Navabi does not argue in favor of extreme skepticism, he actually argues against it as a proof for God. This is a bit puzzling because it is not the evangelical community, which makes this argument. Any Christian with a decent understanding of the Bible should know this. But let's take a look at a couple of claims that Navabi shares and see why extreme skepticism in an extremely dumb way of looking at the universe. Navabi uses color as an illustrative tool.
"For example, consider the color blue. We understand scientifically that the color is caused by a specific wavelength of light bouncing off of an object, and we can measure the length of waves to determine whether a color can be classified as blue. We cannot, however, say with absolute certainty that the color we perceive as blue actually looks the same to anyone else. Because we cannot see through other people’s eyes, we can’t know for sure how colors look to them."
This is not correct. We all see and hear many of the same things and we interpret what those things are as the same. I call this the unity of perception. We don’t say a sphere is a cube. We may vary on different degrees of hot and cold, but we all know what they are. People generally share a similar perception of things around them. This is the unity of perception.
Our senses give us an accurate representation of what is around us. If they did not, then we would never be able to interact with the world and share common experiences. But because we do have this unity, this lends credence to the idea that our senses are reliable.
Certainly, there are people who experience some things differently. Color blind people are one example. Dyslexia is another. We know enough about these conditions to know how they operate and how they affect our perception of the world. These conditions don't prevent people from perceiving other things in reality as real, such as religion and science. This still leads us to the conclusion that generally speaking, our senses are reliable.
Navabi states, "Religious claims should stand up to the same scrutiny as scientific ones; claims should be testable, repeatable and falsifiable. If there is no way to test whether a claim is true, there is no reason to live as though it is."
I actually dealt with this in a previous article when I made the case that if something can't be measured, it doesn't exist. God is measurable. Just as we can't see a black hole in space, we know its existence by the effects it has on the space and stars around it. Just as we cannot see God (he is immaterial), we can know he exists by the effect he has on people and the creation around us.
Can we really know anything? Yes, we can. God has created us in such a way that we share a unity of perception that allows us to interact with each other, our environment, and with him. We can not only know each other, but we can come to know God, personally, experientially, and in reality. If we are willing to accept the evidence around us for God's existence, then we can experience a whole new world previously closed to us.