Question: What about knowledge beyond us?

[Date: Dec/2005]

A got an epistemological question recently, from an old-and-brilliant friend:

What do you think about there being knowledge and understanding that God has and that the most brilliant among us are not even aware of and that the most brilliant arguments against God are, for that reason, like dung, stupid, insipid, etc.

I replied (slowly):

okay, coming up for air here--

let's see...hmmm...

About all i can do on this one is give some basic principles/constraints on the discussion and let you factor those into your thinking--as abjectly brilliant as you are, you will probably do a better job at working out the nexus of implications than I (and will certainly be able to do it more quickly!):

1. Principle One: Father loves to share everything good with us! If it is knowable by humans AT ALL, and not something that would 'scare us' (like the knowledge of our personal futures!!!!) or something which would destroy our 'perspective' by use building our 'systems' around knowledge of ONE specific powerful-but-not-all-there-is truth (like how BAD some event REALLY is), then He seems eager to delight us with that.

2. Principle Two: If it is knowledge we humans cannot understand AT ALL (i.e., our brains-at-our-most-unfettered could not understand the propositions as He tried to explain to us), then it really shouldn't be called 'knowledge"--it is something DIFFERENT from knowledge (as we use the term), and therefore the question 'dissolves' because the terms 'dissolve'.

3. Principle Three: If it IS sharable, and it is BRILLIANT, then Father will give it to some weak, less-than-bright, under-valued student --for them to amaze the world by, while the person knows COMPLETELY where that comes from! "When I am weak, then I am strong"--kinda thing. God will exalt the humble, and yet the humble will grow in humility thereby! Amazing God! The teacher will become the student, peer-dom will be accentuated, and elitism will be 'softened'.

4. Principle Four: Extra-human knowledge (in a propositional sense) becomes less relevant 'up there' ('out there', whatever). The paradigm case I ALWAYS START WITH in speculations about intelligence, error, and scope of knowledge is Satan. His theology is probably absolutely perfect. He believes NONE of the crap he feeds us humans. He knows the heart, character, power of God more than we humans are ever likely to (not sure of this, actually--given the new bodies and Holy Spirit--but I will work with it as an assumption for now), yet His will is violently anti-god. Its like vandalism: the more beautiful and valuable the object is, the greater the delight in soiling/defacing/mutilating it... He probably knows--and is violently outraged by--the goodness, gentleness, and patience of Father. So, i always remember that knowledge is NOT A FUNCTION of sanctification, nor goodheartedness a function of knowledge.

5. Principle Five ("sorta redundant with the Numbered Bullets, glenn only now realizes" ...sigh): I think there is TONS and TONS of 'scientific knowledge' God has that we don't, but that this is more or less discoverable, under His general desire for Community life. He WANTS us to 'work together' to discover/learn/advance the body of knowledge, as an expression of community life and as a vehicle to develop community 'experience' and appreciation. So, 'factual' (including IMO theology and philosophy--many of the things I suspect are including in the concept in your question) are 'available for discovery', if not known currently.

6. Principle # (see Left): I do think there are "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law (Dt 29:29)", but only because they would do more damage than good for us to know. He seems to operate on a Practical basis, except where that discovery-motif is used to create/reinforce community/dependence on one another (as well as general improvements in health, etc).

7. It is difficult to assess (or at least to differentiate) between anti-god/anti-good arguments which are the result of spirit-deception (and therefore truly BELIEVED by the deceived human) and those which are self-deceptions (and therefore 'really known' to be a little 'off the mark by the anti-god human, but which grow in 'certainty' over time, due to the degenerative effects of 'deliberate ignorance'/un-opennes to change, 'no love for the truth'), and those which are malicious subterfuges (e.g., false teachers for 'filthy lucre', evil philosophers/scientists who delight in destroying the faith/peace of others--irrespective of truth/knowledge certainty).

8. I personally--just on the basis of my understanding of God's heart--would not be surprised if at the final judgment God praises some virulent unbelievers for the brilliance of their anti-god arguments (some of these are breathtaking in elegance and sophistication), but judges them for the inappropriate/destructive use of such beauty and gifting. "Had you used this level of brilliance to bring peace to the hearts of many, your reward would be deliriously immense, but for destroying life with such a beautiful implement, your judgment is correspondingly to scale..." So the brilliance ITSELF will not be placed in a 'dung' category, but in a 'bad use of a good thing' category; but the 'mal-outputs' of that intelligence will probably be described as WORSE than just 'dung', 'insipidity' (hey, new word--yes!--rhymes with 'stupidity'), preferring more violent/destructive terms: "virus", "weapons", "plagues", "predators", etc. These destructive things are incredibly complicated/sophisticated/orderly (un-dung-like), but their all-out-function is anti-value, and not just low-value/no-value.

9. IMO, there is so little correspondence between the 'most brilliant among us' and what is actually KNOWN that we should not be looking at the 'most brilliant' to see 'what can be known'. My experience has been that the really 'good stuff' knowledge is parceled out by God as 'no respecter of person'. Pagans, believers alike are recipients of discovery--and the only pattern here is that of Providence. Somehow, the 'temporary brilliance' of this one person occurs at some 'fortuitous moment' in history. Brilliant people are brilliant for a MUCH LONGER PERIOD OF TIME than the period in which they make/develop some major 'discovery' or 'advance' in knowledge... Scientists make ONE nobel-level discovery and then semi-stagnate in the wake of that...?

10. Closer to home, i DO think that theology is subject to a progressive-revelation policy by our Lord... I do think God reveals more DETAIL about the purposes of His heart and attitudes in the unfolding of history. We probably know more about the meaning/depth of the Cross than did Paul or Peter...But that's perhaps a community-emphasis thing by God as well... Issac Newtons' famous quote: "If I have seen farther than most men, it is because I did it standing on the shoulders of giants" -- the humility afforded by the organic nature of human knowledge.

Well, i think i have obfuscated enough here (smile)... i have said a lot of (undoubtedly) “profound” things--all without answering/addressing your question directly (chuckle)...ah, the rush of power of the Filibuster... ["in the multitude of words there wanted not sin"...Prov 10.19]

i hope SOMETHING is useful in the above--

longing to join those at His feet now, g

The Christian ThinkTank...[] (Reference Abbreviations)