Just say "No!" to oversimplification!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Is God Knowable? --

II. What is there to know?

One defining characteristic, for most people and religions, would be 'Creator of the Universe.'

Exceptions? For some Gnostics, this particular physical construction we dwell in was evil -- at best a mistake, a lapse akin to playing with mud pies, something only an inferior deity could have perpetrated. That necessitated a 'Real God' in a higher, more spiritual reality:  either God seen as the creator of lessor spirits, or as the one from whom they just emanated -- at the least their ultimate superior in power and character.

A common flavor in many religions paints this world as a place of suffering or futility, which we do best to escape from, no matter its origin. I've got to agree with the Jewish tradition that God made it and called it 'good', that God could at least say that about the original product.

There isn't much point trying to argue that with anyone who's finding this a bad place, aside from the obvious fact that most people, most of the time, don't actually kill themselves. People find some beauty (we're told) even in utterly ghastly situations. We want to know how it comes out, we want all we can get of this life -- or we realize on some level that we don't have the actual power 'to be or not to be'. We're in this thing called Life and had better deal with it.

However you decide that one, the world is the first, most pressing evidence we get as to what God is like. That isn't so much the abstract things we know about science and history and the current condition of the world -- but what we experience of living. Not so bad, not so good... but then we find, if we're lucky, that Something less obvious is at work in all that, is seeking to get our attention.

Some of us are more lucky in that sense; this isn't fair! And so it isn't, on that level. This follows from the inferred, observed fact that God isn't easy to get to know!

Some people insist that God isn't in fact knowable, that any divinity we can know must be some lesser being. That's a convenient view: gives us a lovely conception to contemplate while kicking any immanent version of God safely upstairs. It may even be true; but it's moot. All that we can know is the One who's striving to be known. And that One is elusive by Hsr very nature, and by our very nature, and that tricky relation between us.

There's this physiological  thing called 'the blind spot.' Every human eye has one; there are techniques you can use to 'see' that it's there (although of course you never see anything there; that's why it's called a blind spot.)

Of the two most logical ways to design an eyeball, our eyes grow in one form while a squid's eyes grow in the other. You can have 'retina inside, nerves outside,' -- or you could potentially have, like a squid, 'retina outside, nerves inside.' Our human version is a design flaw... but it does provide a useful metaphor. In the very place where we have the most retinal neurons, where all these little fibers are coming together to plug into our brains, there is no room for the light-sensitive rods & cones. That's our blind spot, right in the structural center of what we see by.

God is hard to see because God is what we 'am' by.

Elijah found that God was not in the fire he saw, nor in the strong wind, nor in the earthquake, but in a quiet 'voice' inside. That's the best place to 'look'.

Where is this "inside"? In our heads, in our hearts -- our tummies? If you must have a physical location, there seem to be many possible starting points -- but if you consider the real place to be in the very 'looking' you're looking with, you get a hint of what makes for that 'elusive' quality!

Is this another 'convenient' view? -- Does it place 'God' safely inside where He can't get out to make trouble? Some people think so, find it so -- but if you keep on meditating, that pesky 'inside-vs-outside' distinction gets problematical.

Does this view make us God? Won't it tempt us to run around loose imposing our Divine Whim on everything & everyone? Well, consider what the word 'you' means. There certainly are a great many things going on in your head -- and your heart and various other places -- that may not entirely represent your best self, what you truly (eventually, if it isn't so very much trouble) want to do. All of it is you. All of it is a manifestation of God's ongoing life living you. Everything you did as a baby wasn't charming, nor is everything you've been doing since; but the process is life; and it grows in wisdom and in stature. (With some setbacks, sure. But what you 'are' is eternal.)

So God is striving to be known, and need not be in a rush about it. What about us? How urgent is our need? That sounds like the subject of another post.


  1. So let me see if I understand you. You think God is not interested in getting to know us? God desperately wants a relationship with us. We Are the ones who push away. And as for the situation of the world we live in, that is all on us. He created us. He also gave us free will. We screwed up this world. I know God. I met him while laying at Rock bottom, He walk by my side as I climbed through hell. I think You need to ask Him to grace you faith. It was the most precious gift he could have given me. It saved my life.

  2. "So God is striving to be known." [Last paragraph above.]

    How did you get from that to: "You think God is not interested in getting to know us?"

    Given eternity, relationships have considerable time to develop, yes? 'Slow' may work just as well as 'fast' -- sometimes even better, since God can be trusted to persist.

  3. I met a Cuban painter who said he was continually struggling with his paintings. He would begin with some definite idea for a painting; and from that he would start doing things with wood, canvas and paint. What he'd had in his mind and what he had in front of him would seem to conflict -- until he'd arrived at a new idea of how to resolve the two. He wouldn't end with a copy of his original idea, but with something that had grown from that idea and his struggle with the limitations of physical materials.

    He worked with paint; God works with lives... It isn't that God is uninterested in us, but that 'getting to know us' is like watching a child grow up. 'Faster', in that context, isn't usually 'better.'

  4. Dear "Anonymous", I am not necessarily in agreement or disagreement with your guy.

    However, this is a site for my writings and your own comments. It is not a place for depositing somebody else's canned Answers, no matter how much truth they may have caught on to.

    If you yourself have realized something which you yourself can say here directly in the space of one reasonable comment, no problem. But homages to your guru will have to go on your own site or his.


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