Monday, October 6, 2014

Functionality and Reality: How Do You Know Anything Exists?

When skeptics and relativists deny the existence of absolute truth, or sacrificial love, unswerving faith, or undying hope, they are doing so because they do not know their functions and cannot recognize when these functions have been fulfilled. Being ignorant of the function of truth, and unable to recognize its fulfillment, they deny its reality, and in doing so, deny themselves the experience of its life-transforming power.

Is This Real?

How do we know of the existence of anything: whether it is real or not? If you think about it, we determine the existence of something based on its functionality being fulfilled. I know a lamp is real because it does what a lamp should do: give out light. But also, I know it is a lamp because it is shaped like a lamp, and looks like a lamp. These are some components within my frame of reference that I use to gauge the existence of a lamp: an object is a lamp because in my frame of reference, it fulfills these criteria of a lamp’s functions. When I have knowledge of these functions, and when I see these functions being fulfilled, they make the existence of a lamp known to me.

Now suppose I have no knowledge of the function of lamps, and in turn I have no knowledge of the reality of lamps, does my lack of knowledge of lamps diminish their existence in the world? No, it does not. Lamps will continue to exist whether I am aware of them or not. What my lack of knowledge does mean though, is that I cannot participate in recognizing the reality of lamps with other people who recognize it. If this is so, I might begin isolating myself by ignorance and begin to think people are inventing their ideas of lamps. If I knew the function of lamps like they did however, and was recognizing the fulfillment of this function, then I might recognize along with them, that indeed, lamps do exist. And when I see the light of a lamp for the first time, and am told that the object emanating light is a lamp, I now experience the primary function of a lamp, and so understand that the object emanating light is a lamp. In other words, the lamp now becomes real to me.

Most people recognize the reality of physical objects because most people know their functions and attest to their reality when the functions are fulfilled. In the realm of the physical, it is knowledge of an object’s function or purpose, and seeing that purpose being fulfilled, that makes the object real to us.

The Function of Love: Similar to Lamps?

In the realm of the metaphysical however, things are slightly different. While mostly all people know a lamp’s purpose and can therefore attest with unanimity to its reality, not everyone knows the functions of metaphysical attributes like truth, love, faith, and hope. Not everyone knows what truth is supposed to do for us and to us. Being ignorant of its function, we cannot agree upon it is reality. How many can say what the function of love is? Or, why does hope exist, for what benefit? On these, people have their own ideas unless we are taught or informed. And till we are taught or informed, we cannot know if these are real or not.

To recognize that there is such a thing as absolute truth, one would first have to know its function. The same holds good for love, and hope, and faith. How though, does one learn the functions of metaphysical realities in a physical world? Would it not have to come from the realm beyond the physical world? What the functions of these metaphysical realities are would have to be spelled out to us from the spiritual realm. It would have to come from someone who is able to enter the realm of the physical and communicate to us the existence of the metaphysical, to tell us in word and deed the function of love, and hope, and faith, so that we are assured of their existence when we see their functions being fulfilled. Why would it have to come from  a person who comes from beyond the metaphysical? It would have to come from such a person because by ourselves, we are too bound in the physical to see clearly into the metaphysical.  

The Metaphysical and Physical Man

In Jesus Christ, the metaphysical became physical, when He came to earth as a man to live among us. Jesus shows us that these metaphysical attributes are a reality of everyday life, not simply abstractions relegated to philosophy. In the Bible, He gives us the functions of truth, love, faith, and hope, and tells us what they do to us, and for us. Then He lets us not only acknowledge their reality, but also experience it.

Of truth, Jesus says, “. . . and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  What is one function of truth toward us? The function of truth, says Jesus, is to set us free: give us freedom in life from the debilitating effects of sin. When once we were bound by sin that we could not be freed from, we are now set free by the Truth, who is Jesus Himself.

Of love, God demonstrates in Jesus, that the function of love is to give. Love in its purest form gives so that those who receive it receive life—eternal life, that saves from death and eternal lostness. That is the purpose of love according to John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him, shall not perish but have eternal life.

Of faith, Jesus says “Have faith in God . . . all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you” (Mark 11:22-24). What is the function of faith in God? Jesus says that the function of faith in God is to make that which is impossible to us, possible. When I, as a believer in God, pray to see something come to pass and God brings it to pass, I am experiencing the reality of faith in my asking, and the reality of God’s faithfulness in His granting.

Of hope, the Bible says, “. . . if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Romans 8:25). The function of hope is to cause us to walk on in life even when all the odds are stacked against us. And when you can walk on in life in spite of all its suffering, you are experiencing the fulfillment of the function of hope, and you know hope is real. If you have no hope, it does not mean hope is non-existent, but simply that as sometimes lamps don’t fulfill their function of giving out light, you are not fulfilling one of your functions as a human being : that of having hope. However, to experience the reality of hope, you must first experience the reality of truth, because there is hope only in the truth!

The Reality of You

The function of a lamp is to produce light. The function of love is to give life. The function of truth is to produce freedom in life. The function of faith is to make possible the impossible in life. The function of hope is to make us wait patiently, as the life that Love gives us is being made full. When I know the functions of these metaphysical attributes, I am able to recognize when they are fulfilled and experience their reality. Without the reality of these, my own reality breaks down: I have no meaning or purpose. But when love, truth, hope and faith are made real to me, my own reality takes shape in light of the reality of God. And when we find God to be real because of His love and truth, and understand our own reality through faith and hope in Him, our only response will be to worship Him.

© Kenny Damara, 2014

facebook like button