The Ways of Learning

    All human learning starts with faith. When a toddler sees his first picture of an elephant, he gazes at his mother, with a face that says, “What in the world is this?” When she tells him it’s an elephant, he takes her word for it and learning has taken place. The next time he sees that picture, he’ll probably point and shout, “Elephant!”
    The young student who dares his teacher, “Prove to me that 1 + 1 = 2 or else I won’t believe it!” will find that learning in his life will come to a grinding halt. If he refuses to exercise faith in the formula, he won’t be able to balance his checkbook when he grows up, but that won’t matter because if he never exercises the faith to get through basic math, he most likely will never earn enough to need a checkbook!
    There are three basic methods of learning: empiricism, rationalism, and faith:
Empiricism is reliance on sensory perception for the discovery of truth. It is the basis of scientific investigation. The empiricist says, “Only if I can see it or touch it, will I believe it.” But empiricism is flawed because there are so many things that cannot be seen or measured or accounted for.
Rationalism is reliance on human reason for the discovery of truth. Its standard of measure is the human intellect. The rationalist says, “Only if I can reason it out with human logic, will I believe it.” But rationalism is flawed because it can never extend beyond the tiny limits of human intelligence.
Faith is reliance on the word of someone you trust—someone more experienced than you—for the discovery of truth. In the biblical sense, faith is reliance on the inspired Word of God. The man or woman of faith says, “Because God said it, I believe it, and in His time, I will see it and understand it.”
    While both empiricism and rationalism have roles to play in discovery and in education, neither is of any use in man’s attempt to find or to know God. The Apostle Paul in 1Co 1:1-31 makes it very clear that God planned for man to find Him, not through either sensory perception or human intellect, but through faith alone.
    Isa 55:8–11 points out how vastly superior are the thoughts and ways of God to the thoughts and ways of men. God is omniscient and omnipresent—He knows all things and is in all places. He knew the end of human history before there was a beginning. God is perfectly righteous and perfectly fair. He never lies, and He always keeps His Word. God can be believed! It is always safe to trust Him, and only faith can please Him (Heb 11:6).


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