Friday, April 06, 2007

What do you know? What do you have to know?

Yesterday's reading in Deuteronomy included a perplexing verse which I have never understood (and still don't). But here, in the next chapter, is... well, not an explanation of the verse, exactly; it's something that reminds me that curiosity is not always to be satisfied here:
The secret things belong to the Lord, but the things revealed are for us and our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29
Which is not exactly "None of your business" or "You wouldn't understand," but may include some of each. I think there's a little of "No one may see my face and live," too.

So here we are, some three thousand years after Moses, and although some mysteries of the universe are mysterious no longer, many things still are. Gödel's incompleteness theorem shows that some gaps in our mathematics will remain gaps forever. And questions like "Who am I?" and "Who is God?" will never be fully answered in this life.

Is that OK with me? Well, it's not like saying "no" will bring the answers, but saying "yes" can remind me that the universe isn't all about me and about answering my questions. Saying "yes" is in some sense an act of worship, too, because I'm saying I'm willing to obey God, to walk in his ways, even though there are Big Questions that he has not answered completely in a way I can understand.

I don't like to quote this verse or refer to it too often, because there are many questions that will yield to persistent experimentation, research, or meditation. (And although I don't fancy myself much of an intellectual, I certainly do not want to seem or to be anti-intellecutal either!) But some unanswered questions are actually unanswerable; they are mysteries. And in most cases, I do know enough to obey.

I guess you probably do, too. Most of the time.

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