Is Justified Belief Necessary?

One night there were two sets of couples walking underneath the stars to their car. As they drew closer to the car, Tom pointed up to the moon and said, “Hey look! It’s a full moon tonight!” Everyone looked up at the moon. After a few seconds to take it all in, Jim explained “Wow, isn’t it amazing how much cheese the moon is made of?” Pam laughed at Jim and replied, “Are you being serious? The moon isn’t made of cheese!” Tom laughed as well at what seemed to be an absurd statement. Annoyed at the response he was receiving, Jim proceeded to state several reasons why the moon was most certainly made of cheese. Pam then countered with some reasons why the moon was most certainly NOT made of cheese. As they argued back and forth, Jim was becoming more and more frustrated and asked Jan what she thought. “I think you are right.” she responded. “Everybody knows that the moon is made of cheese!”

It is possible to classify all types of people into different types of groups based on their ethnicity, age, beliefs, etc. I am proposing that every person who has ever lived has fallen into one of four categories based on how what they believe in and whether or not they justify those beliefs in any way. These 4 types of people are listed below:
1.     Believes it, has justification, and in reality it is false.
2.     Believes it, has no justification, and in reality it is truth.
3.     Believes it, has justification, and in reality it is the truth.
4.     Believes it, has no justification, and reality it is false.
Person 1: Jim falls into the first category. He believes that the moon is made of cheese and has several reasons to believe this to be so. In reality though, what he believes is false. This means that every argument that he gave for what he believed was based on some sort of faulty reasoning.
Person 2: Tom is person number 2. In this story Tom doesn’t believe that the moon is made of cheese. He can give no justification for what he believes. He is also unable to give an internal critique of Jim’s argument to point out where his reasoning is faulty.
Person 3: Pam, like Tom, doesn’t believe that the moon is made of cheese. Unlike Tom, she has justifications for why the moon is not made of cheese. Perhaps she argues that all cheese comes from cows and no cow could survive on the moon without a space suit, which is an unbelievable thing to consider. She may have several other reasons she can give to show why Jim is wrong.
Person 4: Jan is like Jim in that she believes that the moon is made of cheese. She is wrong about this. Furthermore, she has no justification why the moon is made of cheese. The only justification she can give is that most everybody believes it to be true and therefore it must be true.
I believe that Jan is the person worst off in this story. Not only is she wrong in her understanding of the world but she also believes blindly. I think this is similar to what most of the world around us believes. They go with the flow of what others around them think and don’t care to have reasons for why they believe. They just believe what they are told and go about their business. This is even more tragic when you see that what they believe has seriously negative repercussions on how they live their lives and the level of joy they have.
Jim is wrong about what he believes but you do have to commend him for at least trying to find the truth. But if Jim stubbornly believes that the moon is made of cheese even after it being clearly shown that the moon is indeed not made of cheese then he is in a worse state than Jan because his pride has blinded him from the truth and has led many others like Jan away from the real truth. I liken Jim to those in the world who religiously hold to their beliefs even though their reasoning has been clearly shown to be inadequate and absurd. From a Christian perspective, I see these as the leaders of other religions that counter Christianity including the religions of Atheism and Agnosticism. Though I have greater respect for these individuals than someone like Jan, it never ceases to amaze me the extent one will go in their pride to defend what cannot be defended.
Tom is in a much better place than Jan and Jim but not where he ought to be. Tom has knowledge of the truth but doesn’t seem to care to take much time to understand why it is indeed true. So, when Tom is ridiculed by all of Jim and Jan’s friends for not believing that the moon is made of cheese, he becomes saddened and begins to wonder if maybe he is wrong. Trying to fit in, he even begins to live out the negative lifestyle patterns that Jim and Jan live out that steal from the joy that he could have if he grew deeper in his knowledge of truth and forsook the criticism that was given to him by those who were clearly perishing. At the same time, he is unable to assist Pam in critiquing Jim’s argument in hopes that he will discover the truth. This does a disservice to all 4 of the people in this story. Most importantly, it does a great disservice to the Originator of Objective Truth. I see Toms all throughout the church today. My great struggle is to encourage others like Tom to be proactive in their learning so that they can be confident in the Truth and great communicators of the Truth so that perhaps they may also be great persuaders of the Truth.
Pam is the bittersweet one of the bunch. It is sweet in that she has knowledge of the Truth, which means that she has a special connection to the Originator of Truth. But at the same time, Pam is often lonely and has to fight feelings of frustration at the world around her. She wants everyone to know the Truth but others are either too prideful to admit they are wrong, too uninterested to discover the truth, or worst of all, a combination of pride and disinterest. What can Pam do? She must continually rejoice that the Originator of Truth has shown her the truth and the justifications for it. Most importantly, she must have peace that the Originator of Truth is in control of all and is the only one who can make someone both interested to discover Truth and humble to turn from their false ways. Pam cannot make a hardened person change their mind and cannot speak with enough angst to motivate a disinterested heart to be interested. These two things are an act of God. Pam needs to pray and serve as faithfully as she can.
In this story, it makes little difference as to whether someone believes the moon is made of cheese or not. But in the everyday world we live in, the truth can be a matter of life or death. It is extremely important that we know why we believe so that we can discover where beliefs are justified and where they are unjustifiable. The world we live in needs it.
13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. – John 17: 13-19