Can we know something that has not yet been proven true

In order to answer this question, we must first define how we can prove that something is true and it actually exists. Some think that ‘seeing is believing’ and therefore if they see something with their own eyes, that precise object must exist. Others feel that if there is not a logical explanation to a certain event or to a belief, then that thing does not exist. Some might say that scientific proof is the only way to state that a certain thing is true.

What happens when scientific proof is showed to someone who only believes in the ‘seeing is believing’ principle, or what if a plain and simple picture is shown to a scientist? Will they believe that that object or theses exist or not? For us to know something, we must believe that the method used to prove this fact, is the most suitable and the most accurate. For example, not many people will believe that UFOs exist just because they have been showed a picture with a presumed flying spacecraft on it. This also goes for everything we are taught in life.

If it comes from what we think is a reliable source (parents or teachers), then there is more of a chance that we will use this knowledge later on our lives. For scientists and mathematicians, the only medium through which the truth is separated from the imaginary world, is scientific facts and numbers. These facts and numbers, are later set up into an experiment or a certain method through which a predicted or less predicted outcome will be formed, and new facts and numbers released, formulating experimental results, which are the bases for scientific conclusions.

These conclusions state what is true and what is not. We can also take into consideration, the fact that some people believe that ‘seeing is believing’. In general we can relate this also to our other four senses (hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching), therefore resulting in a method that uses our human senses to prove whether things are true or not. I have personally come across a discussion relating the ‘seeing is believing’ theory, and this happened in religion class, where the students were asked to debate on the available evidence of God’s existence.

One of the students asked the obvious question: has anyone ever seen God, has anyone touched him, has anyone talked to him? Another student replied with another quite similar question: has anyone ever seen your brain, has anyone ever touched it, has anyone ever talked to it? Obviously no one had, and realising the obvious, the class went quiet. Within the borders and the limits of the classroom, we knew something that we were not able to prove true. Arguments like these happen every day all around the world.

Arguments, who’s main point of discussion or of debate, is a certain fact, which is obviously true, but at that time no one would have the ability to produce some clear evidence that would be accepted by everyone as reliable and accurate. Religion is probably the most complicated and sensible subject dealing with what is real and what is not. How can so many people in the world follow a religion, which does not have some clear and recent proof? We do have eyewitness accounts, and holy books, but how can we explain all the miracles and the extraordinary events that characterise the life of a prophet.

I am not here to criticise mine or other religious beliefs, but I am here to define the difference between knowledge and faith. Faith is another form of knowing something that has not yet been proven true, but it consists of something beyond science and beyond any sort of facts and figures. We can say that faith is a derivative of the ‘seeing is believing’ principle. The only difference between the two is that, the religious belief is based on eyewitness accounts from over a millennium ago and not from your own observation.

Faith could be interpreted as another method of knowing something that has not yet been proven true, if we do not consider how much time has passed since someone had the capabilities to prove that our beliefs and everyone else’s, are true. “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. “1 Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) If we think about man’s discoveries throughout history, we will see that most, if not all of them have followed the path suggested by the quote.

Discoveries such as the roundness of the earth and the ability to overtake the speed of sound, perfectly match this sort of definition and so do other discoveries and theories, thought of by humans. Then what can be said about the existence of extraterrestrial beings, or about the life after death? Could the theories and the witness accounts be true? How can we tell the difference between someone who is lying and someone who is telling us what he really saw, felt, or heard?

The only way we can resolve these mysteries, is to let time do the job for us. With the gaining of new and more advanced technologies, man will be able to reach limits never imagined before. In a couple of decades we could be all spending our winter holidays skiing on the, over twenty kilometre high, Olympus Mons, on Mars! Sometime in the future we will have the possibility to prove whether what we think of today as absolutely impossible and absurd, will be proven to be true, with the help of technology and other ‘close encounters’.

The cause for this mass scepticism, is that some people might recognise certain witness accounts as absolute nonsense, but that is simply because they do not consider this as a reliable source of evidence for such an event. Therefore they conclude that this certain thing never happened, and therefore if has not been proven true. Therefore that witness knows something that has not yet been proven true. What a human being knows, is only a minute fraction, of the available knowledge of today. One must be able to preserve his or her knowledge, and pass it to later generations.

This knowledge could be useless as it could be the key to our survival. It is obvious that in order to know something, one must first make sure it is true, and to do that, one must follow the best possible method, he or she regards as the most reliable. This is the very foundation of our knowledge. The proof of something being true, plays a vital role in the knowing or not knowing concept. What really matters is that, one must be able to prove to himself that his knowledge is correct, and in order to do so, one must follow the method chosen.

There are more than one points of view concerning method used, and there will be some people who will think that the method u chose is the wrong one and rather inaccurate. But from your point of view, you would know that a certain thing is true, and according to your method, you have proven it true. But for those who do not believe the method you chose is the best one, they will bring up the argument that you have did not prove that that thing exists, even though they might believe it does. Therefore you would know something that has not yet been proven true.

Can we know something that has not yet been proven true

Before analysing this title we must understand what it is to know what is meant by the term ‘to prove true’. A proof is something we take to be true, something that justifies our beliefs; it is not the same as to reach 100% certainty, but to reach such a level that allows us to draw the conclusion that an argument is true. And knowledge is the established understanding of the connections between the data we perceive from the world around us, for example to gain mathematical knowledge; we understand the connections made between the question and the result. However, do we always need proof to know something?

Some would say that they know God exists because they have proof; they take the bible or miracles etc. to be true, and therefore consider these enough proofs for their argument. By the same token, we need some kind of proof in order to establish these connections, and therefore to achieve knowledge. A proof, as stated earlier is something we take to be true. This means that it does not necessarily have to be true, i. e. correspond to reality. We can have empirical proof, for example seeing Joe in his house justifies my belief that he was at home, the proof was seeing that he was inside his house.

And I took this perception to be true. I believed this. And therefore it constituted a fact. However I could have made several assumptions and this could not be necessarily true. I could have made a mistake and seeing a man inside Joes house, made the false assumption that it was he, through mistaken perception. This would therefore mean that I have achieved a wrong proof, but it is still a proof to me; and, I know that Joe is inside his house as I have justified his presence inside his house by seeing him. False proof therefore will bring false knowledge, as it justifies false beliefs.

As with the argument of the existence of god. Some believe in the existence of a God. Some Christians take the bible and other scriptures and miracles to be true, and so to be proofs to justify their argument. It in this way that some may say that they know that god exists. However these proofs are very subjective, in this way, anything that one believes to be true is a proof. In fact, not too long ago it was proven that the earth was flat and at the centre of the universe. This was common knowledge, everyone believed it, and had had proof to justify this statement.

After all they had no knowledge to contradict it, therefore they took it to be true. They had restricted knowledge and drew the sensible conclusion; if the earth were not flat we would all be falling off at the sides of it. Similarly, people believed that the earth was the centre of the universe and that the sun revolved around the earth because they had proof to back up their belief. After all they had no knowledge of other planets or other constellations, they saw the sun and the moon rise and set, and drew to the conclusion that they rotated around the earth and therefore the earth was at the centre of the universe.

This knowledge was also enclosed in many books, and few dared to question this knowledge, that many simply accepted because it made sense. However Christopher Columbus and Galileo Galilei proved them wrong, these men dared to question, and discovered new knowledge. They had new beliefs that was then justified by some kind of proof and led to new knowledge. Christopher Columbus had this belief that the earth was not flat but in fact round.

He travelled to Greece and visited an ancient library, which is said to have contained copies of documents from the destroyer library of Babylonia, which contained in-depth geographic studies and which contained in them indications to the earths surface being in fact round. This, combined with his own imperial proof, in seeing that the horizon of the ocean was indeed rounded, were all part of his proof, which led to his knowledge. Similarly Galileo Galilei turned his belief into knowledge as he famously said after many years of study: ‘eppur si muove’ which translated means ‘and yet it moves’.

It’ of course is referring to the earth’s movement around the sun. These are all proofs. We have then established that the process to achieve knowledge is through belief and proof; hence, knowledge is justified belief. However, proof is not necessarily empirical. I may not have seen Australia but I know it exists, similarly I have not seen other planets but I know that they exist. They are facts and I take them to be true because they make sense and there is no proof, to my knowledge, that contradicts these facts. Therefore I draw to the conclusion that my belief in Australia’s existence is true.

And is therefore my knowledge that Australia exists. Although not all proofs are empirical, most universal knowledge tends to be proven with scientific experiments. This is because the results of scientific experiments are taken to be true globally, as it is empirical proof and therefore considered more valid than perhaps rational proofs. It is because of the very nature of proof that much of the knowledge we have could potentially be false. However, as we do not seek 100% certainty, we accept what we know to be true until proven otherwise.

In fact we do not often question our knowledge, we do now question whether 2+2=4 or whether the sun will rise in the morning, proving that we can indeed only know what has been proven true; but because of the very nature of proof, truth must be something mutable and not fixated and rigid. But in order for us to make these connections, we must have proof. Although this proof can sometimes be based on assumptions, which can be true or false, they can also be based on facts. For example the proof that the earth was flat was based on false assumptions, whilst scientific proof is based on scientific facts.

But even the knowledge back then, although based on false proof, was dependant on these proofs in order to be knowledge. Proof is needed in the validation of a belief or argument, and validation is necessary to knowledge. If we do not believe an argument we would not know it. For example, we may not believe in the existence of the devil, but only with the necessary proof, either empirical or rational, could we say that we knew the devil did or did not exist. Proof is what makes the difference between belief and knowledge and it is a crucial part of our quest to knowledge.