Is Knowledge Better Than Belief?

Here’s a snippet of a recent forum discussion with theists.

A.C: Is a knowledge position better than a belief position?

Mike: It depends upon what you mean by those terms.

Tentatively holding an idea as according better with the available data than any known alternative, is better than uncritically taking an idea about something as true regardless of data and being unwilling to modify your position in light of new data.

If that’s what you’re asking, then: yes.

V.B.N: You’re assuming the belief is an idea. Belief usually comes from some kind of revelation. Knowledge is only as good as the the current idea of it whereas belief becomes who you are.

Mike: Agreed. Belief may not always rise to the level of a coherent idea. Belief often comes from personal revelation. Knowledge always remains subject to error-correcting revision while true belief can become an ingrained part of who you are.

Beliefs and knowledge are the impetuses for our actions.

As such, knowledge helps enable us to enact our desired goals. The closer our models of reality correspond with actual reality, the more effectively we can take action.

When beliefs don’t even form coherent ideas, they have no informative content to use. When they’re based in revelation devoid of observation, they’re more error prone, less likely to correspond with any external reality. When they’re not kept current with new data, and instead become an ineradicable part of you, they no longer have accuracy checks to help maintain conformance with reality. So, beliefs which aren’t developed ideas, which come from revelation, which become a part of you, serve poorly as impetus for effective action.

Your points make my case well that a knowledge position is superior to a belief position.

Would Proof of Life After Death Prove God?

Here’s a recent question from a theist, along with my answer:

Question: If I gave you scientific proof of “life after death” or to put it another way the continuation of consciousness, would you accept it as proof of God?

Answer:  Scientific proof of “life after death” = scientific proof of “life after death.”

Scientific proof of “life after death” ≠ scientific proof of God.

“Life continues in some way after death of the body” is a separate assertion from “God exists,” even if they are sometimes conflated.

Some people, such as most Buddhists, believe in various forms of life after death (ghosts, reincarnation, etc) without believing in God. Some others, such as Christadelphians, believe in God without believing in life after death. The two assertions are not necessarily connected.

The validation or refutation of one does not constitute the validation or refutation of the other. Each assertion must stand or fall on its own success or failure, not on the success or failure of some other assertion that some might possibly construe as tangentially related.

Proof of “life after death,” on its own, wouldn’t get us near to proof of anyone’s doctrinal conception of God (such as an immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent being that created the universe).

So, no. I would not accept it as proof of God.