Monday, February 9, 2015

Why I Can Say I Know Things I Don't Know Intellectually

I believe in gods, and my absolute favorite aspect of Mormon theology is the concept that "I (and every other person) am a child of God" - that I can be godly - that I can be and become a god.

I believe in God, because I want to believe in God. I believe in Heavenly Parents, because I want to believe in Heavenly Parents.

Do I "know" intellectually that they exist and that what I believe is accurate?


Do I feel deeply that there is great power in the concept and principle and that I have experienced something outside my rational comprehension that I choose to accept and call "God"?


Thus, do I feel comfortable in a group of members using the accepted vernacular and saying that, based on my own experiences, I know God lives and loves us?


I am comfortable saying it in that setting, even though I explain it differently (more comprehensively) on a site like this where I try to flesh things out and explain in more detail.

I'm fine using shorthand when shorthand is appropriate.


Andrew S said...

Do you suspect that when you say "I know..." that there are some people who don't draw the same meaning from it that you have discussed in this post? Do you suspect that there are some people who hear your "I know" in the intellectual sense that you deny in this post -- and then say to themselves, "well, I don't know in that intellectual sense, but everyone else I know says they know, so I guess this just isn't the place for me"?

If so, what do you think about that?

Papa D said...

Great question, Andrew.

I generally don't use the word "know" when I am talking from the pulpit. Instead, I use "believe deeply" or "have a strong testimony" or some other phrasing. When I do use "know", I often do air quotes or say something like, "I know from personal experience . . ." I also have said on more than one occasion something like, "There are lots of things I can't say I know, but I do feel comfortable saying I know . . ."

Generally, it isn't an issue for people who know me over time, since they have heard me talk about this sort of thing and understand that I'm not talking about an intellectual knowledge. It would be an issue with people who might be listening to be for the first time - but, again, I try to use something other than "I know" if there is a phrase that matches my feelings better.

I really do feel comfortable saying I know something in the manner I've described above - but that doesn't mean I do it regularly or indiscriminately.