WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE?
All knowledge is imprinted on the mind by the thing that is known, either directly or indirectly.
- DIRECTLY – through EXPERIENCE, using our SENSES
- INDIRECTLY – through the report of someone else who has had their own experience.
Indirect knowledge forces us to weigh the EVIDENCE for what is being told to us.
Two main factors contribute to the Evidence of indirect knowledge:
- Reliability of the Source of Information
- Coherence of the Information with what is already Known
Knowledge can be distinguished also based on whether it is acquired naturally or supernaturally.
- NATURALLY – through the use of merely natural abilities (senses, experience, reasoning)
- SUPERNATURALLY – through the help of grace, which enables us to know something incapable of being discovered through experience
This allows us to make the following fourfold division of knowledge:
Naturally Acquired Knowledge
- DIRECT – Experience
- INDIRECT – Reading, Lectures, School, TV, etc.
Supernaturally Acquired Knowledge
- DIRECT – Visions, including the Vision of God in Heaven, Prophetic Knowledge, Private Revelations
- INDIRECT – Reports of Visions, Prophecies, Revelations, etc.
In the case of indirectly acquired supernatural knowledge, the problem of evidence is somewhat trickier than normal. Naturally speaking, we can still fall back on the same tests of evidence that we normally use: assessing the reliability of the source of our information and weighing the coherence of the information presented with what is already known. However, ultimately, indirectly acquired supernatural knowledge is believed because of a choice, a desire to believe. This desire is supplied by grace.
Therefore, the act of believing what has been made known to us naturally about what has been revealed supernaturally is itself a supernatural act. We call this act FAITH.