Religion: Can We Know God? (10)-Knowledge Itself

   Human beings have self-awareness. Human beings dabble in self-transcendence. The ability to understand we exist and exist in social structures and exist in a universe not of our own making inspires awe in us. The ability to feel awe when we sense beauty or might or massive darkness makes us artistic, scientific and religious, all at the same time.

   Of the three great activities of man, Art, Science and Religion, Science is the youngest. In fact, Science, particularly the "hard' science(s), is barely in its infancy. As with any consuming activity, its practitioners develop an intense devotion to their practice, as well as an intense pride in achievement. This is a natural tendency of infants.

   Only in our age of specialization does the progenitor of intensely centralized knowledge feel qualified (and seemingly required) to speak grandly on all matters. He may speak largely, dismissively (arrogantly) even though his overall lack of education in no way qualifies him to weigh in correctly. Yesterday, on an NPR broadcast I was listening to, a well known brain chemist dismissed both Christianity and Judaism as proper systems of knowledge on the power of a cursory reading of Genesis 1, citing a conclusion on Creation about which a first year seminary student could have corrected him. 

   In fact, our culture is the first since the Enlightenment to award high degrees to persons whose overall education is grossly suspect. What passes for wisdom is information; not sophistication, or even knowledge, just information. The information itself may be grossly slanted by media presentations, with transportable audiences (portable applause) to beam approval at the special moment of disclosure.

   So it is that knowledge is now the domain of Secular Science, the Infant Terrible, and a place where Art can edge in for an occasional show. Religion must mind its manners, offer acceptable influences and otherwise die as quietly as possible. This is not right, will not work and should be resisted by persons interested in actual science, meaningful art and ancient religion.

   The Secularist who wishes to adopt Science and Art to the exclusion of Religion has to insist man's self-awareness is severely circumscribed and his self-transcendence is mostly foolishness. In fact,the Secularist does what a small person does to make himself appear larger; he reduces the size of all others around him. Religion is guilty of this sin periodically through the ages. The sin of religion in the past cannot excuse the present sin of the Secularist.

   I will be accused of religious bigotry if I insist that all philosophy comes around to religion and all ethics comes from religion. However, I cannot claim that Art manifests philosophy or ethics when Art says its imitates life rather than guides it. I cannot claim philosophy or ethics come from Science, when the "hard" scientists say they are only involved in continued research and inspection of physical processes to determine what seems to be reliable, repetitive occurrences, which may or may not be altered by the very  observation that "discovers" it.

   Nor can I overstate the chaos of a world without a foundation of purposeful knowledge (philosophy) or a system of oughtness (ethics). If neither Science nor Art will claim transcendent knowledge and if Secularists will allow only Science and Art on the world stage, it is not hard to imagine the coming of a world listing to its lowest common denominator; the beggared self, adrift in self-absorption and so wracked with the personal self-hatred so common to persons who live within themselves.

Opinions expressed here are mine alone, not those of any church, person or organization.





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