Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Disclosure of God: Human Perception

Do we actually, can we actually know anything about God? It depends of course by what one means by the phrase and the particulars that make it up. Although it is usually helpful to define terms at the start of a discussion, when it comes to the subject of God, I do not believe we can start with defining terms. Hopefully, the reason will be apparent in the next few paragraphs. Since I would, nonetheless, like to start exploring the subject, a tentative definition for "God" is in order.

God is the ultimate. God is the ultimate source for all that is, the ultimate power that energizes and sustains it, the ultimate intellect that designed and directs it. I would think it would be impossible for all that is not to betray some intelligence concerning the nature of what is ultimately behind it. That is the sentiment behind the Apostle's words to the church at Rome. Creation has fingerprints all over it, which betray the perpetrator who created it. Paul said, in fact, the evidence is quite clear, so much so that ignorance of God is inexcusable.

That would be well and good and portend an excellent potential for a worldwide, common understanding of God, but its downfall is that it still is dependent upon the eyes of the beholder. Different presumptions will be brought to the task, and different assumptions inferred from the evidence. The evidence may be plain enough in hindsight, or divine sight, but the perception of the viewer will mean the difference between "message sent=message received," or error. We can say at least that much about man, regardless of what we know about God.

Actually, I think we can say a bit more. Man seems a very imperfect creature when it comes to perception; conclusion; decision. We are error prone, we are limited. What would be the likelihood that such a creature could accurately plumb the greater depth behind the surface of things? We are the surface in a matter a speaking, getting to the truth behind ourselves would entail a dizzying loop, like staring down the endless hall of images in parallel mirrors. Might as well try bottling the wind.

It seems to me, what we need is an active witness from the One behind it all, a personal commentary on the evidence he left behind--like watching a director's cut, with explanatory notes straight from the horse's mouth. We would then have a definitive statement on the subject that dispelled all the flowery tripe of the artsy-fartsy pundits. What we need, then, is self-disclosure from God. In fact, I would posit, we stand no chance whatsoever of knowing anything about God with any certainty apart from it.

And even that, is not enough.