Tag Archive: a priori



“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” -Romans 1:28

"Stairway to Heaven," by Jim Warren.

In a previous entry (1 John 4:19 – “On Love’s First Cause”) I explained two theories concerning epistemology and the origins of knowledge. One, is known as, “a posteriori,” which is simply that we know what we know because of empirical stimuli, or that we learn from experience.

The other is known as, “a priori,” which suggests a knowledge independent of experience. Yet, there is a debate on whether or not any a priori knowledge actually exists. However, the bible tells us here, and in 1 John 4:19 that it does indeed exist.

This verse is amazing in that it gives us some insight into what those a priori knowledges consist of. In this verse, it tells us that man didn’t “retain” their knowledge of God. To retain means to keep possession of, thus it seems that we know God, a priori, from birth and because we forsake that knowledge, the Lord may justly give us over to depravity, from which we will reap the just consequence, much like what happened in the garden.

"The Fall of Man and The Expulsion From The Garden of Eden," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

God both exists in the heart and mind at birth, as does his nature, unfortunately intermingled and perverted with our disobedience as we grow in age and responsibility. It is clearly seen that we grow in sin, as we forsake the knowledge that is already there. Thus, we find that a person to deny God is a choice and thus will be held responsible in the day of judgement.

"Last Judgment," by Hans Memling. oil on wood. c. 1466-1473


“We love because he first loved us.” -1 John 4:19


Such a short simple verse provides us with deep philosophical insight. Empiricism is the school of thought which says that all knowledge is based on experience. Though this is certainly the case to some degree, there is the question if any prior knowledge exists in an idealistic fashion.

The philosophical terms for these are, “a priori,” meaning something that exists in the mind independently of experience and, “a posteriori,” meaning those things that are derived from experience. Though the latter can clearly be seen, that we do indeed learn and gain knowledge from experience, there is a debate whether or not the former actually exists at all. For Christians, this verse provides the answer.


Things exist because they were with God first. Love is in the world and able to be expressed and experienced by man, because the Lord first loved us.

Much like creation itself, there has to be an explanation for everything. This is called the, “Principle of Sufficient Reason,” or “PSR.” It simply states that there needs be a cause or reason for anything that is deemed to exist. As William L Rowe put it in his treatise concerning the Cosmological Argument:

“If we come upon a man in a room, PSR implies that there must be an explanation of the fact that that particular man exists. A moment’s reflection, however, reveals that there are many facts about the man other than the mere fact that he exists. There is the fact that the man in question is in the room he’s in, rather than somewhere else, the fact that he is in good health, and the fact that he is at the moment thinking of Paris, rather than, say London.”

Although, PSR is most often applied to the creation, of how things came to be, and what was the initial cause of being, it can also be applied to abstract concepts, like love. Again, the Bible tells us that such things come from God, and indeed if one tries to regress by means of a mental exercise the reasons such things exist, one reaches God, rather than some initial plane of nothingness, substance, or ether.

The fact that love exists, or a baby barely with any experience can conceive of happiness, suggests an a priori truth that can only be found in the Lord Almighty. In addition, because He loves, love was manifest in the earth and in the beings that were formed in His image and likeness.

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