Knowledge is the product of a relationship with revelation. Ignorance is the absence of that relationship or an improper relationship with revelation.
We closed the last chapter with a discussion about how we often and fail try to turn our ignorance into knowledge. So what exactly is knowledge and what is ignorance?
In The Beginning
Let’s refocus quickly. Jesus said in John 4:22 that Samaritans worship what they don’t know and Jews worship what they know. We said that the root of idolatry then is an ignorance of God. This is a strong statement from Jesus Christ. How can He say that Samaritans don’t know what they worship? If anything, it could be said that Samaritans know best what they worship. They can touch their idols and they can see their idols. The Jews worship an Invisible, Intangible God. How can Jesus say that we can be ignorant of what is visible and touchable but yet the Invisible God can be known?
Let us then talk about knowledge and knowing things. Many people have devoted many lifetimes to studying it. But our goal here is not depth. We just want to show how how ignorance can never lead to knowledge. We all begin like the world began: in darkness and ignorance
This should be our first clue to how powerless we are when it comes to knowledge. Imagine a world without light and sound and so on. It might exist but because it wasn’t speaking the language of light and sound, you could not know anything physical about this world. It would be invisible, silent and without substance. Physically, we are beholden to the speech that the world is generating
Knowledge Is Relationship
Knowledge then, all knowledge, does NOT begin with discovery. Knowledge begins with revelation. Without the world revealing itself through light, sound, heat, smell..., our eyes, ears, skin, tongue and nose are all useless. My eyes are useless if the world is playing peek-a-boo. If then knowledge begins with a revelation that has nothing to do with us, what then is our role?
Well, if the sun is shining but I close my eyes, then I would be missing a huge physical aspect of the world since I would not see what the sunlight reveals. I may still hear but I would never see. My job then in gaining knowledge is to open my eyes. This opening of the eyes is what we call discovery. To learn, you have to position yourself in a such a way that you can see. You have to incline your ears to hear
Well now it sounds like I’m talking about a relationship when I use all these mushy words like vulnerability. Well it is not for nothing that people once used the word “know” to describe sex between a husband and wife
Passing Or Crashing In The Night
Knowledge is not only dependent on you and it is not only dependent on what is outside of you. Knowledge is the relationship between you and the thing that has revealed itself to you. Knowledge is not JUST subjective (whatever I feel) and it is not JUST objective (whatever I can measure). Knowledge is a relationship between you(subjective) and the thing that has revealed(objective) itself to you.
Oh this all maybe sounds outlandish or crazy. But consider that smarter men than I have said the same (see Kierkegaard and Buber). Also consider that on a biological level that when you look at a tree, you are not seeing the tree, you’re seeing your brain’s interpretation of light that bounced off the tree. In other words, your brain gets objective information from the light hitting some object and then your brain performs the subjective act of perception so that you can know you are seeing a tree. Knowledge is the union of objective information and subjective interpretation.
What do we call it when your brain perceives and shows you what isn’t physically there? In medicine, we call this hallucination (we’ll talk later about why faith is NOT hallucination). What do we call it when your brain can’t perceive what your eyes can see? One type of such disease is called hemispatial neglect. So basic then is the subjective-objective nature of knowledge, that we know there is a medical problem when someone thinks they have knowledge about something physical but is lacking in either the subjective or objective department.
The general word for either of these cases is ignorance. Briefly, ignorance is an absence of knowledge or an impropriety in knowledge. Ignorance is an absent or improper relationship with what is being revealed to you.