How does she know?

I saw a few minutes of a Bill Moyers tv thing last night that included some chat with a fresh-faced young person who had just graduated from something called (unpleasantly) ‘Regent University’ – it’s apparently run by Pat Robertson, and includes John Ashcroft on its faculty. The fresh-faced young person told the camera that she believes in Absolute Truth. ‘Not grey, not relative, Absolute Truth, which is God’s truth.’

Nothing surprising there, of course, but all the same I wondered (as I often do) how she knows. How does she know? How does she know what God’s truth is?

She doesn’t, of course, but that’s what’s interesting, because she thinks she does. Why does she think that?

Largely or entirely because she’s had little opportunity to think anything else, I would guess. But all the same it is a little bit interesting that it tends not to occur to people to wonder how they know what they think they know. I don’t think it occurred to me much when I was her age (and I had much better opportunities that way, I imagine). On the other hand it could be argued that it ought to have occurred to her, because she was full of her plans to go out and tell everyone else what she knows, and urge them to know it too, and persuade them to be like her by her example of being good and living a good life. She had missionary plans, teaching plans, evangelical plans; therefore, perhaps, she had some duty to think about the material she was planning to teach, and whether she had any real reason to think it’s true, and any real right to try to get other people to think it’s true. Perhaps she had some duty to wonder, if God’s truth is Absolute then God must want us to know what it is, and if God wants us to know what it is, why doesn’t God tell us all what it is in such a way that we cannot make a mistake? A duty to wonder not in the sense of trying to think of the most plausible explanation that will leave her idea of God intact (God wants us to be free; too much evidence might be bad for us; God wants to woo us; God has told us but we turn away because we are evil; the fool hath said there is no God), but in the sense of really thinking about the question. It is a real question. If it’s so absolute, and it belongs to God, why doesn’t everyone know it, with no questions at all?

I have no immediate plans to enroll at Regent University in order to find out.

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