Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On Wisdom and Knowledge... Meaningless as Solomon Claims?

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2) This assertion by King Solomon in reference to “all things under the sun” (1:3) has surprisingly been one of the most instructional principles throughout my academic and personal development. With dogmatic convictions such as these, one may be confused by my desire to pursue understanding in this world, which seeks to explore the exact object of Solomon’s denunciation. I do, in fact, believe that knowledge and the study of this world “below the heavens” (1:8) are in-and-of themselves, meaningless. After all, what is mathematics, but numbers? What is science, but theory and observation? If one does not allow these abstracted disciplines and discoveries to affect and influence the soul, they are but mere shells of substance.

I am a student of faith. I have grown up in a home built on reverence and obedience to the Bible and its Truths. I have always possessed a peculiar relationship with Solomon’s statements in the book of Ecclesiastes, in that I am a lover of wisdom and knowledge, but I am also deeply connected and loyal to my personal relationship with my God. In recent years, I have come to recognize that these two aspects of my soul can be reconciled. Everything I learn, and all knowledge I pursue informs me of my Creator in the same manner the analysis of a poem by Emily Dickenson would inform a reader; one not only learns of the content of her poem, but her unique creation is a mirror into her soul—an intimate look into her character and convictions. It is with a steadfast commitment to grow in a more intimate and personal relationship with my Creator that motivates me in the study of His Creation.

It is when I study algebraic theory and learn of the variations of pi that appear throughout nature, that I see my God, the Great Mathematician, whom finds even greater pleasure in their equation. In my observation of human behavior, I understand that we are formed in His likeness and he, too, is full of love, compassion, jealousy and complexity. And when I study theories of evolution and Natural Selection, I am not shaken because I realize that when my God created this world, He did not create a stagnate sculpture or piece of art to hang on a wall, but a dynamic world that continues procreating and changing.

In academic environments, beliefs such as mine have often been disregarded as fantastical childhood securities serving as a crutch for a weaker mind. Conversely, people that share my faith are often skeptical of academic exploration and knowledge because they fear that they would eventually be forced to make a choice between God and Science. I see no such obstacle. In my personal faith, I have found that I am able to approach each subject as objectively as my lens of experience will allow, and be affected by the results in a way that strengthens my faith.

With this conviction and this motivation, I first assume God.  From the light of His truth amd the understanding I access, only in my experience with Him, I am able to approach my world.  Although inherited by my culture, the empirical method of thought does not begin within me or within my environment, but understanding flows from a prsupposition of God. 

"In the begining God..." (Gen 1.1) If this is not first true, nothing else can be known.