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Sep
07

Knowing God Project

It has been two weeks since I posted my first blog, and now I think it appropriate that I tell you why I am here writing again. Maybe this should have been the first blog, as it defines why I am doing this; it is a statement of my goal. The reason is simple: I have been on a quest to know more about our God and that has been on my mind ever since I became a Christian, 10 years ago last month. I call this quest on this blog the Knowing God Project. There are two reasons I want to know more about God:

  1. The more I know about God, the more I love Him and the more I am in awe with His being. When I gave a talk about my coming to Christ at an Emmaus meeting some years ago, I wanted to describe the strong love I had for Barbara, who had passed several years earlier. I realized that love was strong like the love God has for us. In fact, I came to believe God placed my love for Barbara on my heart. I do not know which brought the most joy, my loving her or her loving me back. Now I reverse the story and I say my love for God is strong like the love I have (still) for Barbara. And frankly, I like the feeling I have by loving God.
  2. I believe the understanding we humans have for God is incomplete, and that if we had a more complete and correct definition of God, more non-believers would say that makes sense and would consider the truth of God’s existence. That is all it takes to become a believer, as there is an abundance of solid evidence that He really does exist, and most will accept Christ, whenever they take the first step and consider.

 

Why do I say the understanding we have of God is incomplete? Consider the following analysis. Because of our limited human capability, we can never have a complete understanding of God. Any definition of God that does not use the word “mystery” or has the phrase “I do not know” is incomplete, even in human terms. Assume we could assign a number to our level of understanding of God. Let us assume that the complete level of understanding in God’s realm is one million. I would place the maximum possible level of human understanding of God in human’s realm at about ten, but the actual level of understanding is only about five, or one half of the human potential of understanding. The numbers are chosen only to illustrate a point. I do not believe we are at the maximum human capability in our understanding of God. Therefore, if this is true, there is much more we can know about God. There is much evidence of God in nature and I wonder if God wonders if we will ever see the clues. Does anyone think we are at the maximum human capability in understanding God?

Why do I feel our understanding of God is incomplete? There are several reasons:

  • Much of the theology of God is based on the teaching of the ancient Greek philosophers, instead of the Bible. While they were brilliant, they were not always correct in their conclusions. I think it would be okay to use their thoughts as a starting point, but any conclusions should be backed up with the Bible.
  • There is much debate about the nature of God. For example, is God temporal (in time) or is God timeless and outside of time? The true answer to this question is important, as it has bearing on other attributes of God.
  • Humans because of their attempt to exalt God, tend to describe Him to the maximum limit of their imagination. But this can only be stated in human terms when a true description would actually be required in God’s terms. The result is we have an anthropomorphism. An example often cited is that God is omniscient; “God’s knowledge is infinite, and He knows everything.” There is a problem with this. If God knows everything, then there is no more that can be added to His knowledge; however, infinite means ever-increasing. You cannot have it both ways. I believe a better interpretation is that God knows all that is knowable, but that His knowledge is potentially infinite meaning knowledge is ever-increasing. That would mean that the increase in His knowledge is God’s learning. This assumes that knowledge is also potentially infinite, which I believe is the case. Now to say “God learns” bothers some people. The only way that is not the case is for knowledge to be finite and God would know it all, but His knowledge would also be finite, not infinite. I accept that this might not be the last word about God’s omniscience, but it is a starting point for further discussion.

 

I believe there is more to our misunderstanding of God, as we shall see later. The obvious question is: how do I intend to learn more about God? God has provided us with two main sources about Him and His nature, the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature. Since I stated too late in life to ever become a biblical scholar, I can at least possibly make a contribution in the science and study of nature. Being an engineer with experience in science and research, I feel confident in that field. Furthermore, the above thought process about God’s knowledge and learning, along with the discoveries about the origin-of-life, God being the source of the key human attributes and God as the source of the Moral Code discussed in my recent book, HUMANS shows that I can contribute to the knowledge of God.

John Wesley said there were four sources when studying theology:

  • Scripture
  • Reason
  • Experience
  • Tradition

Wesley placed scripture as the primary source with the other three supporting it. In 1964 Albert C. Outler referred to these four sources as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.[1] I would add one more, which is the Book of Nature. This approach would use the scientific approach using secular evidence and logic. I believe the reason the Wesley did not include The Book of Nature is that science, the study of nature, was just getting started. Wesley was born in 1703 and Sir Isaac Newton, an early innovator in modern science, died in 1726, an overlap of only 23 years. At any rate, my main focus will be on the science side of the evidence combining that with logic and reason. And anything realized from the Book of Nature or the other three sources cannot conflict with the Book of Scripture.

Much of what I have discussed is philosophical and that, while in search of truth, can often lead to mere opinion, especially when there is limited evidence. My career in engineering was always after the absolute truth; philosophy or opinion had little value in creating a real product that worked as designed. The same diligence toward truth will be followed here.

This blog is somewhat of an experiment; I am not sure this approach to learning more about God has ever been tried. It is very important that you understand most of the statements I make, especially the initial ones, are hypothesis. That means they are just food for thought and I am not saying I believe them or not. These statements will need to be confirmed with evidence and/or reason.  As time goes on and a truthful pattern emerges, I will make a more definitive statement about what I actually believe.  Hopefully, we shall see some level of consensus emerge.

For this to be successful, I need participation of a number of followers. This type of discussion might not appeal to some, but I hope it will be of interest to a reasonable number. That number shows up in the count of people who follow the blog and who subscribe to notifications of a new blog, shown at the top right of each page on this website. If this discussion is interesting to you, then tell your friends and we should see the number of subscribers increase; if the discussion in not of interest, then the number of subscribers will decrease. You can unsubscribe with just a simple click. I also need your comments, either to agree or disagree or add another viewpoint or to ask a question.  Keep in mind that all statements, comments and responses must be respectful and civil. I have to approve all comments before they are posted.

Also be aware that from time to time, I might have thoughts unrelated to the Knowing God Project and the blog allows that freedom. I invite you to join the Knowing God Project. I believe it will be fruitful. We shall see if any more knowledge about God can be realized. I believe it can.

Next time, I am considering looking at just how great and awesome God and His realm and heaven must be like. While we cannot know the details, we do have some indications from the Bible and nature. Having some understanding of this subject is important in understanding God and it shows why we are so limited in obtaining an accurate understanding.

 

God Bless!

[1] http://www.theopedia.com/wesleyan-quadrilateral

3 Responses to “Knowing God Project”

  1. September 12th, 2015 at 10:18 | #1

    Thank you Dave for your thoughts. I agree with everything that you said. I might add that true Christianity involves mystery that is a joy to experience even though we might not full understand.

  2. David Thurneysen
    September 11th, 2015 at 22:34 | #2

    Great post…I found my faith finally as I tried to reconcile science and religion, and surprisingly found common ground between them. I realize not everyone has time to read or post in this level of detail, but if it had not existed in some form, I would still be lost. So I have shared the following on my Facebook news feed, and we shall see how God chooses to use it…

    What if I told you… that for many of us Christianity was not the easiest or most obvious choice? It requires an open heart and open mind. One of my favorite writers, Rod Serling, would say it is a journey into “a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.”

    In my opinion, true Christianity it is not what we see on the nightly news, nor what we find in the Sunday morning routine. Instead it is found somewhere in the intersections as our paths cross, and we acknowledge each other, and find that we have something greater in common, regardless of borders or other divisions.

    If you have read this far, you may interested in a new blog from a former atheist, and Facebook friend who goes to my church. He is a kindred spirit for me, and perhaps for many? Peace and prayers

  3. Faye
    September 8th, 2015 at 20:26 | #3

    Haven’t read through it all, Shaun, but your #1 and #2 above is great. I, too, like the feeling I have by loving God.

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