Let’s be philosophical: What is knowledge?
Under my metaphysics, knowledge is a misleading way to refer to an encapsulation of being in our own being. Words like `know’ and `knowledge’ are our ways of speaking about our active responses to what lies outside of us but also our active responses to our own human being. As we respond, we enter into a relationship. We begin to share in being which might be abstract or concrete but is always a manifestation of thoughts God freely chose. A similar process can result in something like participation in divine being, sharing in the life of God.
Even Christians in the modern world, and maybe most Christians throughout history, take a paganistic view of created being, formally acknowledging God as Creator of all and then ignoring Him when it comes to the hard and exciting work of making sense of what lies around us and inside us so that we can respond properly to that all which is the manifested thoughts of the Creator. We are pagans because we ignore God the Creator and think and feel and act as if this world were something separate from God, something over which God has great—maybe absolute—power, something He rules but something as separate from Him as Russia was from Peter the Great as he struggled to subordinate that country to his will.
We think and feel and act—quite wrongly—as if this stuff exists and then God begins to love it and to seek to control it. In terms of a more Christian metaphysics: What exists only exists because God has first loved it, has chosen to form an active relationship with it before it even existed; moreover, God’s ultimate control over Creation is that which He exercises as a Creator, not as a King ruling someplace which exists independently of His creative will. If the Almighty wishes to act as a King, imposing His will upon what He has done as Creator, then He is free to do so. We Christians shouldn’t assume that is His only way of doing business or even His primary way of doing business.
Every bit of created being, including each and every human being, is a thought He manifested and has to continue manifesting for that bit of being to continue to exist. Thus it is that we have to think of God in terms of analogies from what He created. In some regards, we should think of God in terms often ridiculed as `anthropomorphic’. Often the underlying criticism is proper if made in respectful ways, but often it is ridicule by those who aren’t truly scientific. They aren’t men and women who wish to `clean up’ our thinking about the Almighty; rather do they wish to stop us from thinking about any power, God or the natural world He created, which lies above human power.
God is mind and heart and hands, analogically and powerfully so. This is to say, He thinks and feels and acts in ways analogical to those of human beings. We rise above those analogies when we speak of God in terms of His true unity, a unity of mind and heart and hands which is true of divine nature and also of each of the three Persons, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. In such a unity of mind and heart and hands, we also see the future of the friends of God.
My metaphysics is a grand claim that there is no real knowledge which is separate from true divine being which is mind and heart and hands at once. God’s thoughts manifested in Creation are one with His feelings and His acts. He thought of me before I was conceived, felt love for me, and acted to create me in my parents’ act of conception. So I came to be, but it’s misleading to think of the three phrases in the prior sentence, involving thought and feeling and acting, as truly three. They were one at my conception and they are one and they are the act-of-being which is me. My fragmentation is an ephemeral condition which will end when I join God on the other side of the grave or when I’m left in the permanent grave if I fail to respond properly to Creator and Creation.
It bears repeating: our human minds are encapsulations of what lies around us, whether it be concrete being or abstract being or even the revelation of divine Being. This encapsulation is itself an active response to being; even revelation isn’t such until a creature responds honestly and openly to it. Biological evolution has prepared a complex human brain capable of and inclined toward that response and the ensuing encapsulation, but it doesn’t provide us with much in the way of specific beliefs in “the meaningfulness of life” or “the existence of an absolute being” or anything of that sort. Our worldview is the greater `shape’ of that encapsulation, is an active response to the totality of what lies around us, and is—because of that—always under revision in an active and living mind, even the mind of one such as I am: a believer in the traditions of sacramental Christianity, but I believe in a living body of traditions. And that worldview is mostly in the communal human being which is us rather than in the individual human being which is me or thee.
Even when we think about the most abstract forms of being; we are responding so that we participate or share in that being—along with the Creator. If we are honest and courageous, we will encapsulate reality to the best of our abilities—given our specific cultural and historical circumstances. Mostly our minds but also the entirety of our human being will encapsulate the being which we have responded to, whether it be a horse and riding gear, a tennis racket and a ball which can move in strange and rapid ways, revelations about God, 3-d printers and high-precision parts, historical and fictional retellings of the settling of New England in the 1600s, or other strange and wondrous forms of created being. Note that there are too many of those strange and wondrous things to be truly encapsulated by a single human mind or even by all the talented minds of all the universities on Earth. It takes a civilization to make a plausible worldview and that worldview is what really makes a civilization; in this case, you can dig to discover foundations and find yourself on the roof. I said above our worldviews are mostly the communal us and a true civilization has to have an appropriately rich and complex communal us; a Christian civilization, the pilgrim Body of Christ, has to have a very rich and complex communal us which is intertwined with God through the Lord Jesus Christ and through Christian communities of worship and service and belief.
Unlike us, God has control over what He thinks because what He thinks already truly is or has truly become at that instant. His will is fully effective while our wills must be disciplined to do what God left to us, always following His will—our only true guide. The Almighty is free and we are somewhat free, and can learn to be more free, by participating in His freedom. God can even create where there was once nothing, bringing an entire Creation into existence. We can only seek to know, to understand, the Creation in which we have our being, but this—as I said above—is to share in the being God has created. And this is to share the thoughts God manifested as this universe and in all of Creation. Consider it preparation for a more complete sharing of the life of God in the world of the resurrected.
The Satanic rebellion, the rebellion of modern men but also of many ancient men is to refuse to share in the being of what is as best we can perceive and conceive it. We modern men try to live in a Creation more to our liking. This deification of what we desire leads us into various sorts of hells, though we might have misguided forms of prosperity in those hells and might enjoy ourselves for some time; we gain the world though we lose truer forms of human being, those which would allow us to share God’s life, to a small extent in this mortal realm and to a full extent in the world of the resurrected. We have no capacity to enjoy or even endure life without end; we can have that never-ending life, and have it in joyful abundance only if we share the life of God.
We need to understand that we don’t know, we participate in being. We aren’t learning. By responding honestly and courageously to what lies around us, we encapsulate that being in our own being. Thus, it is more proper to say, “We are becoming,” rather than, “We are learning.”
Most of all, we need to understand we aren’t in control. Knowledge, as typically imagined, is one human way to try to stand above being, pretending to control it if only by squeezing it into our various schemes. Until it squeezes back and crushes us.
[Many of these inadequate ways of thinking and speaking discussed above can become adequate if we re-orient our thinking towards being and toward God as a true Creator rather than a King. For now, I struggle with a language deformed to speak in false ways about Creation and its relationship to the Creator.]