Monday, April 17, 2006


To know, to believe, to opine

Let me begin by pointing out a distinction without which we're sure to get hopelessly muddled, the distinction that determines whether a claim is being made based on knowledge or on faith or on opinion.

If I claim I know something, my claim is essentially based on the soundness of my mind: of my memory, in the case of experiential knowledge; and of my memory and my reason, in the case of scientific or demonstrable knowledge. And, as the name implies, I should be able to demonstrate, to offer a sound argument for, whatever demonstrable knowledge I possess.

If I claim I believe something -- this is according to the distinction I am making; I realize people aren't so formal in ordinary speech -- my claim is based on faith in another. By believing, I am, as the old formula has it, participating in the knowledge of another. To say, "I believe X," is to say, "I have faith in person Y, and person Y says he knows X."

If I claim I opine something, or more likely that I doubt or suspect or guess something, my claim is based on my judgment of how certain that something is based on the evidence I am aware of. Opinion differs from knowledge and belief in that it is essentially uncertain, if only because there is always uncertainty where knowledge (either direct or through another) is lacking.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006



This blog is intended to serve as a record of my thoughts on the nature of the salvation offered to mankind through Christ. What can we know, believe, or opine about the possibility of damnation? What can be said about proposed statistics of salvation? What is settled dogma, what is open to debate, what is unknowable in this life?

Some of the posts will be copied from my principal blog, Disputations. Some will be fresh attempts at synthesizing my opinion. There will be a series responses to Hans Urs von Balthasar's Dare We Hope "That All Men Be Saved"?, which has probably done more than any other contemporary work to promote the idea that hell may be empty.

For now, there are no comments. This is, after all, to be a record of my thoughts, of what I've drawn from conversations I've participated in, not of the conversations themselves. I can't put all my thinking into a single post, and at this point I think I'm better off trying to lay it out in an orderly fashion than responding to comments and challenges as they might occur to readers. But there's always email.

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