On Knowing

"But how do we know?
We've lost much of the richness of that word. Nowadays, to know means to know with intellect. But it is a much deeper word than that. Adam knew Eve. To know deeply is far more than to know consciously. In the realm of faith I know far more than I can believe with my finite mind. I know that a loving God will not abandon what he creates. I know that the human calling is cocreation with this power of love. I know that 'neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'
But in this limited world we tend to lose this kind of knowing, and this loss has permeated our fiction as well as our prayer." -Madeliene L'Engle

I am not anti-intellectual. In fact, my patience is often tested by arguments or suppositions which seem to refuse to take seriously the depth of human intellect. On the flip-side, however, I am equally tested by intellectuals who refuse to approach a subject with the degree of humility that is required to truly take seriously the depth of human experience and faith as a body of knowledge. We have so elevated objectivity and certainty through observation that we have neglected richness of subjectivity, story, hope, and faith. We scoff as these concepts unless we find them in art or poetry and yet we miss altogether the fact that art and poetry are often more true to reality than any math equation or scientific explanation. How shallow our life would be if we were required only to believe that which is substantiated on the basis of static observation. Indeed, how hopeless would we be if we were required to believe only that which is possible, for nothing is truly possible until it happens. Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, "It is an hypothesis that the sun will rise tomorrow: and this means that we do not know whether it will rise." And yet this does not negate the real importance of the matter. Hope calls the impossible future into the present and thus takes seriously the fullness of time in the conversation of finite reality. Are we not naive to ignore spiritual realities when we are, after all, spiritual beings--animated flesh and bone capable of reasoned arguments... does it get much more spiritual?!

Christ invites us to know God. If we take this knowing to be purely intellectual and built upon objective certainty, surely we will miss the invitation. The realities that call us into the present with full vigor are those which can only be known in mystery and wonder. To quote Wittgenstein again, "Man has to awaken to wonder... Science is a way of sending him to sleep again." The reality we can grasp is always a reflection of the reality we have not yet realized.