The more you know

Much learning earns you much trouble.
The more you know, the more you hurt.

Ecc 1:18

It hurts to know

This is so true. You know who said this? It was Solomon. Compared to anybody today, he knew so little. But he had the wisdom of God, because he asked for it.

You do not have because you do not ask, it says.

What is it that hurts when you know more?

Superficially, one could say that knowing more we are more aware of the bad things that go on in the world. And that certainly is true, and they hurt. I do not want to belittle this. But I want to look at this from another perspective.

The more I know the more I realize that I don’t know much.

Everything we learn that is a bit more complicated than the easy stuff such as higher math, programming, and the like—everything that for example involves other human beings or God or questions for meaning and truth—is so much more complicated and it is so easy to give up, surrender, give in, and use the seemingly wisest answer there is. This answer is: I don’t know.

This answer, on its own, also is the greatest cop out. It makes life easy. Just go through life saying it regularly, and I guarantee you will miss your destiny.

Now, this needs some explanation.

I don’t know will usually keep me from searching. it is usually voiced like this: I do not have to know, I just have to believe and do what I am told.

That certainly works better with God than with human authorities, but I don’t think that it is what we are called to do. Did God create us in his image, save us from our sins, only to turn us into tools with no will, only able to grow by externally induced experiences? Did he give us a mind only to support us in our sinfulness?

Search for things

We are a people of kings and priests. If so, we have two assignments in particular:

First, to know God intimately. This is our priestly duty so we can represent the people before God, and vice versa.

Secondly, we have to search out things.

The glory of God is to hide a thing; but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.

Pro 25:2

That is our kingly duty. Who else is there to provide answers to the needy? Who else to solve the problems of this world?

Why does it hurt then?

It hurts for so many reasons.

  • One, you can never be sure. We only know in part. Thus, we have to learn two things: to live with uncertainty, and to keep on searching.
  • Then, very few seem to care. People tend to settle for “I don’t know” or “This is how it is” so easily.

This is where the part of “learning earns you trouble” comes in. Different theories, no matter how uninformed or scientifically proven, naive or complicated, out there or well respected, start fighting each other instead of coexisting as more or less probable  alternatives to drive forward our search? Especially, our search of God?

Want an example?

How much energy goes into fighting about our origin. Just let me give you some possibilities:

  • Max Planck found the Planck constants in all four time-space dimensions. They give a unit of space and time that cannot be further divided, indescribably small. If this is true, we might as well be a computer simulation.
  • Einstein’s relativity theory aligns science wonderfully with the Genesis story, in that an external observer outside our universe would experience 7 days while within the system, billions of years would pass.
  • There might be multiple universes, a so called multiverse, just to underscore God’s creativity and lavishness.
  • Our universe might be a hologram, something like a 3D-movie projected on a heavenly screen.
  • We might just be thoughts, words in God’s mind. A story told.

The world might have been created literally within 7 days, in all of those scenarios. Including a literal version.

Does it matter? Not really.

Do we know? No, we don’t.

Why can’t we admit that we don’t, and keep on searching? With an emphasis on “keep on searching”? Why do we have to fight and pretend that we know better than the next one?

Sharing your intermediary results

There is another way learning is troublesome. Sharing your intermediary results often gets you rejected. People do not understand that all we know is in part. Therefore, nothing I say is absolute. 2+2 not even equals 4 under all circumstances. Just imagine an algebra with the numbers {0,1,2} and an addition a + b := (a + b) mod 3. 2+2 suddenly becomes 1.

But people want to know how it is. They look for security. They look for fixed answers. Thus often, we hurt people when we know more as we shake their foundations.

But truth is not boolean, nor 50 shades of gray—it is a person. It is not the attribute of a fact, but the character of our God. While everything else changes, he never does. He is our security. Not math nor knowledge. Knowledge’s purpose is not to give us security, but to let us know him intimately.

Enneagram and Knowledge

My enneagram type is driven by fear, and I deal with it internally by countering it with knowledge. The dragon in my head is pacified and made smaller the more I know. This is the basic strategy of type 5. It does not work, since only perfect love drives out fear, but we all believe some strategy to conquer our most prevalent emotions excluding God.

But then it perfectly works, as when I get to know God intimately, I experience this perfect love that drives out fear. Knowledge truly is key.

And it works for all types, as only the knowledge of God helps us to deal with fear, sorrow, and anger. Whether we look inward, outward for a solution or just deny the emotion’s existence.

Strive to know Him

Paul tells us that nobody has an excuse. We all can see him in nature, in his creation. Having a close look at creation truly reveals God. What a hope for biologists, chemists, physics majors, psychologists, medical doctors, gardeners, fitness trainers, rocket scientists, and hamburger flippers. You name it.

We have been built with a God shaped hole, a natural curiosity, an assignment for a quest to find him.

Never give up, settling for “I don’t know”.

Just say:

I don’t know yet!

Up for the quest?