Bill Pratt explains the value of testimony – not just for learning about Christ, but for learning about almost anything.
There are 3 ways that a person can gain knowledge: experience, reason, and testimony. Experience simply means that we observe something directly with one of our five senses for ourselves (e.g., “There is a computer screen in front of me”). Reason means that we make rational and logical inferences from knowledge we already have to new knowledge (e.g., syllogisms). Testimony means that we gain knowledge by hearing it from another person (e.g., “Napoleon was a short man”).
For the average person, it would seem that much of what we know about the world comes from testimony, from facts we hear from other people. Think about it. If you just start listing in your mind all the things you know about every sort of subject, a tremendous amount of it you read in books, were taught by teachers and professors in school, read on a blog, and heard from your friends and family.
We rely very heavily on testimony because as a person who is limited in space and time, we cannot possibly experience everything directly that we want to know. Any knowledge you have about places in the world you’ve never been is because of testimony. Any knowledge of people whom you have never met is because of testimony. Any knowledge of human activity from before you were born is known from testimony.
For the full post, see Is Testimony Really That Unreliable? Part 1 | Tough Questions Answered.