Empirical knowledge is knowledge based on what we observe through our senses or tools that extend our senses. Empirical knowledge, in its purity, is only knowledge which we have ourselves observed. Reason is the ability to change our thinking when provided new information by use of logic.
Both of these are hailed as the hallmark of the Enlightenment and are used to discredit Tradition and Faith.
They limit truth to only what is newly or recently observed via new technologies.
Religion, especially Christianity, is full of empirical truth, as experiential – but it is gleaned over thousands of years of many (or One’s) experiences – far longer than any one person can live or observe. Tradition also follows this long term experience by relying on the wisdom of ancestors to guide our path today (G.K. Chesterton would agree).
Hyper-individualism (another byproduct of the enlightenment) also prefers what is best or favored by one individual and rejects all impact on society as a whole. It is true that one individual will not cause long-term, societal repercussions, but many embracing the same pattern of behavior result in long-term consequences at a societal level that can affect generations as demonstrated by history. This may add weight to the idea of an individual’s Christian faith needing a community. These are effects that we, ourselves, cannot observe and are not based in reason’s new information. Here, reason and empiricism fail us.
It has long been my belief that the Bible, as a blueprint for living well, is a cosmic pattern for long term survival of the human race and civilization where honoring your father and mother (so you might live long upon the earth) is the micro version. Parents know better the long-term consequences of a child’s choices than the child does – as does the ultimate parent, our Eternal Father in Heaven, know better the trajectory of humankind.
For the inheritors of the enlightenment, history begins with Locke.Published in