October 18, 2023
Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. It is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief versus personal opinion. In other words, how do you know something is true? Is there such a thing as truth? Can we actually know things with certainty? If so, how and when do we know such things? As you can imagine, epistemology can make your head hurt, but it is a real issue.
President Biden made a trip to Israel to visit President Benjamin Netanyahu. Before President Biden arrived, a hospital in Gaza was hit with a missile and initial reports state that 500 people were killed. This event instantly became the immediate issue that is part of the greater issue of this war that has broken out between Hamas and Israel. The question is, who did this? Near as I can tell, there are at least 6 possibilities.
1. Israel did it on purpose.
Immediately after the explosion, Israel was accused by many Palestinians of hitting the hospital with an airstrike. It is certainly possible since Hamas regularly uses hospitals, schools and mosques for command centers and military sites.
2. Israel did it on accident.
Hitting the wrong target is a common casualty in war.
3. Hamas or another terrorist group did it on purpose in order to make it look like Israel did it.
This is certainly possible for a number of reasons.
4. Hamas or another terrorist group did it on accident and are acting like Israel did it.
Israel is claiming that they have evidence that supports this one.
5. There was no bombing. AI (artificial intelligence) was used to create fake videos depicting this in order to generate more chaos.
AI has been used for so many deepfake videos, this would certainly be a possibility.
6. There is no war. There is no Israel, no Hamas, no U.S.A., no presidents, no bombing at all. In fact, there is no you or me, at least not in the way that we think.
You exist in a matrix. Everything that you think you experience is just your imagination. You only think you know, but you really don’t actually know.
Ok, that last one was a little “out there”, but you get the idea. There are plenty of people who try to argue that you really can’t know anything. Of course, they claim to know that you can’t know anything with certainty. I know, that’s a head-scratcher. But, think of President Biden’s dilemma. If Israel bombed the hospital, it would make his trip for expressing solidarity with Israel a little more complicated, right? He needs to know, if possible, who is responsible for this.
Again, how do we know what we know? Can we know anything with certainty?
The issue is enormous and I think that it has a connection to the high levels of stress-inducing anxiety, and mental health crisis that are being reported in our world and particularly our country. Peace and rest are the by-products of security. Security comes from knowing that what you are trusting in is strong and will keep you safe. Peace comes from security which comes from something that is true and enduring. Are you with me? If there is no such thing as truth, or if we are not able to know truth with certainty, then we have nothing to trust in. This means we have no security and no peace. For those who take the time to think about that, they naturally become anxious. Many just drink, inhale, and chase escape routes.
In the last verse of John 16, Jesus makes a direct connection between his words and our peace. The One who in John 14:6 claimed to be “the truth” said, in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.”
Our world is uncertain with just about everything. Christ enables us to be certain about the most important. The result is peace.
Grace and peace,
Sunday’s Text: 2 Samuel 24:1-14