When our sons were young, I read aloud to them a great deal. We often would encounter new, unknown-to-us words as we adventured through books. So I decided to put together our own little dictionary entitled, “Very Remarkable Words,” where any of us were welcome to alphabetically list new, interesting (and often astonishing words) we would stumble across in our reading. I still add to our little book – even though my sons are now adults. Samples of words in our book are; slumgullion (stew made of leftovers) and flump (to plump down suddenly or heavily). I discovered a new entry for our book this week that I thought worth discussing with you today.
I read this new word in an article discussing the way that business enterprises can deliberately use deceit and confusion to help sell their goods. The word is “agnotology,” and in its basic form it means the study of human ignorance and doubt and how it can be produced. I got to thinking about this concept as it applied on the spiritual/religious level and thought it worthy of exploration.
I have found, in my interactions with people who have not lived lives based on godly principles that they are often looking for solid ground. Life, for them, is often scary and filled with anxiety and troubles because there are no absolute “Thou shalt nots”. If I can say it in a nice way, they are ignorant of how best to order their lives. Now, in order to not be high-and-mighty, I must assert that this is how we all come into the world. On the spiritual plane, the amount of God-factor applied to our lives is the only difference between ignorance propagated or wisdom applied.
The Bible teaches that we are born “ignorant” – slaves to sin, and alienated from the things of God. Here’s how the Apostle Paul describes it:
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way…
We are born in sin-ignorance – that is a given. And we either use the blessing of life to dispel that ignorance (to the best of our abilities and by the grace of God), or we give ourselves over to sensuality (living for the ME and the NOW.) Another way the Bible describes the sensuality side is “Each man doing what is right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6, Pro. 12:15) I find this a distinctive characterization of the chaos and craziness of our current culture/world.
Now the agnotology of the business world asserts that ignorance is propagated by failure in a variety of areas having to do with the dispersal of information. These include reporting issues (by the media), secrecy and suppression of information by those in power, and the many forms of avoidable problems inherent in the selectivity, inattention, delay and loss of information in our cultural and political world.
I would submit that these same issues are rampant in the religious world. Remember that, inherent in this definition of agnotology, is the idea that more and right information will dispel ignorance. How many of us get our worldview on religion from hearsay, books other than the Bible, or what others have told us or represented as far as spiritual things? Why do we not go directly to God ourselves – without these (potentially ignorance inducing) filters? How many of us have a minimal personal exposure/understanding of God’s word and yet draw conclusions that may or may not be based on valid information? And how many of us may be being fed a religious diet (by those in whom we’ve vested spiritual power over us) that is incomplete or suppressing vital elements – but we don’t even realize that that is happening?
Perhaps it is time for an agnotology assessment in each of our own lives. Do we operate in an invisible cloud of ignorance? If so, there is good news! There is indeed a sure-fire way to dispel spiritual ignorance. It is not easy – but it is life empowering. Literally. On all levels of our lives. From the ordinary day-to-day questions/problems all the way up to salvation itself. Our readings today, and many, many other places throughout the Bible, give us the pathway to ignorance-dispelling Truth (with a capital T!)
The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
God Himself gives us peace, makes us wise, rejoices our hearts, enlightens our minds. His word becomes the tastiest morsel to those who exercise their palate upon it. He helps us understand ourselves and our problems and thus helps us understand how to live good, fulfilling, rewarding lives. He helps us know what is wrong behavior and then to put it away from us. But He can only be the Rock and Redeemer of our lives if we meditate on His perfect testimony persistently.
Hanging around with Jesus does the same thing. And that makes sense since he is His Father’s son. It makes us wiser to be taught by the Lord. Consider his amazing preaching that we have been reading in Matthew recently. Our minds do not naturally think like his (or His Father’s) but the more we spend time with them the more our ignorance melts away. He said it today in Matthew 11:5 – in his presence “the blind receive sight.” He sheds light on the darkness of our ignorance.
If you still aren’t convinced, consider these words of some of the men that the world most reveres for their “lack of ignorance” – due to their brilliant civilization- enhancing discoveries. These men answered momentous questions in the scientific or mathematical arenas. But, in the very act of exploring those things, they were all the more convinced of the existence, wisdom and majesty of a Divine Creator.
“I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied, the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism.”
“If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God.”
– Lord William Kelvin (noted for his theoretical work on thermodynamics, the concept of absolute zero and the Kelvin temperature scale based upon it).
“The more I study science, the more I believe in God.”
“You accept the historical Jesus?”
“Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”
– Albert Einstein
“God created everything by number, weight and measure.”
“In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”
“The more time and devotion one spends in the worship of false gods, the less he is able to spend in that of the True One.”
“I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.”
– Sir Isaac Newton (widely regarded to have been the greatest scientist the world has ever produced).
For further quotes like these visit: http://godevidence.com/2010/08/quotes-about-god/
Like these great men, let us resolve to allow God’s wisdom to quash our ignorance!