ArticlesPoetry Sep 6, 2015 Knowledge and Ignorance
Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Article by Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Creator and author, thinkheaven.com

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 Gen­e­sis 1:1. Yet there is a light that most of us can see by and when that light en­ters through our eyes, the phys­i­cal world is re­vealed to us. Add to this the oth­er sens­es like hear­ing, feel­ing and smell and we be­gin to get a mul­ti­di­men­sion­al pic­ture of the phys­i­cal world.

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 Psalms 19:1-4. We all have this in­grained idea that we some­how un­veil the world through study and re­search. But this is not so. We do not learn by un­veil­ing the world. In­stead, it is the world that re­veals it­self to us as we un­veil our­selves.

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 Proverbs 4:20-21. You can see then that dis­cov­ery has more to do with me un­veil­ing my­self than it has to do with the thing that has al­ready re­vealed it­self. Knowl­edge then be­gins with rev­e­la­tion and is com­plete when we un­veil and open our­selves to that rev­e­la­tion. Knowl­edge re­quires vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty.

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 Gen­e­sis 4:1-2. The child of that know­ing is what we call knowl­edge. Knowl­edge is a liv­ing, ac­tive re­la­tion­ship be­tween you and the thing or per­son that has re­vealed it­self to you. It is not a pas­sive thing to be ob­tained and stored. Just as a child’s well-be­ing is de­pen­dent on a healthy re­la­tion­ship be­tween her fa­ther and moth­er, so also knowl­edge is healthy when there is a vi­tal re­la­tion­ship be­tween the re­veal­er and the seer.

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.

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“Knowledge is any relationship we experience through our relationship with Jesus Christ.”

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