Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020. What is it that humans can know about this world? What is it that we can know about ourselves? Where do we come from? How did we come into being? Why are we what we are? What is the world composed of? How does it work? How does it function? What can we know and recognize about nature, about our mind and reason, about spiritual things?
We also ask: is there a God, and what can we know about him? What about the various experiences and ideas humans have developed about God? Is it that all what we deal with is an illusion, merely the outer shell of something deeper inside? What about the spirits and beings which are worshiped here and there on this planet? What about the spiritual experiences of people who start to explore the spiritual world? And what about the one God of the three big world religions: Jewish faith, Christian faith and Islam? Who is God? What to know about him?
How to know about God? …
It is indeed an important question to ask for God. Is there a God? What can we know about him? What is the approach to know about God? Let us briefly look at approaches which are offered to us. How to approach the question?
First, the bible tells us that God can be recognized from all of his works. He can be recognized from his creation, from the whole of creation, including the stars, the earth, plants, animals and humans. So how much can we learn about God from nature? Is it a trivial route, that you look at nature and say: “ah, of course, this is how God is”? This does not seem the typical way. Usually, people first get to know God through other routes, and then they realize that nature tells us a lot about him.
The bible also tells us that mankind has lost its contact to God. We have lost our knowledge of him. So we are lonely in a world which does not recognize him. Mankind has chosen to live without God, and by its own decision has denounced knowledge about God. This is, first of all, a strong statement. Can we see it to be true? If you look around and check the knowledge of humans about God, you will realize that usually we do not know much about God. That is true for most humans. And from a Christian viewpoint it might even be true for many who believe in some God, but do not know the God Christ Jesus has been preaching.
But can we know about God? Is it a deception of some mad people who think they could know about God?
The answer starts already in the early days of the Old Testament tradition. It starts with the experiences of the Jewish fathers, of Abraham, Isaac and Moses. It starts with the prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. They claim to experience God, and to know him, and to talk about him. They claim that God wants to show himself. So the knowledge about God comes from God talking to us through, through his own revelation.
The biblical route to knowledge about God is to listen to what God is telling you through the prophetic books of Moses and the Prophets. Then, when you listen and follow what you hear, you will experience God yourself in your life, through your spiritual dimension and through your own experiences. The claim is that you can know God and know about him. Just listen.
Your way …
In the second book of Moses, known as Exodus, we hear about the prayer of Moses, who is keen on knowing the ways of God. Let us have a look into this prayer, and the answer which Moses got.
Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (2 Mose 33, 13-14)
For Moses, his desire to know God was deep. So he prayed to God to grant him the favor to learn about his ways. And God granted the favor to him, and gave him peace!
The story of learning about God and of getting to know him does not end with Moses, nor does it end with the large or smaller prophets of the Old Testament. God has shown himself through the son, who is Christ Jesus. This is the claim of the Gospels and of the apostolic writings in the New Testament. God is showing himself fully through the son Jesus.
We can know a lot about God. When we meet Jesus through the New Testament, through prayer and the Holy Spirit, and then through experiences in our own life, we are able to learn all about God, all we need. God wants to be an open book to us. He wants us to be with him, to understand his mercy, his truth, his way.
When you want to know whether it is true, just seriously start to pray. Start to ask God, to show you all you need to know. Ask him to show you the truth. Ask him to show himself, to be able to see and to discover him, his mercy, his justice, his presence, his hope and love and truth! When you approach him seriously, he will answer. (Roland Potthast)
This is part of the trilogy project “Faith of a Scientist”.