Recently I have been pondering a few questions I’ve seen repeated across blog posts and comment sections. I’m not so much pondering the answers to them as I am pondering how I would answer them. Given the nature of the questions it may seem arrogant of me to say I can answer them, so I’ll just qualify that right now by saying this is how I answer the questions for myself. I want to share my answers because I think that it is through other people that we can learn the most. We share our life constructs with each other and introduce new ideas and experiences. What we do after we meet these new ideas and experiences is up to us individually.
There is a lot that goes into our personal constructs for self and life. We base these on all that we learn and experience through living each day. Sometimes we use tangible, empirical evidence to support our beliefs, but sometimes there aren’t any such evidences in which case we use faith as a foundation for belief. I use faith as a foundation for these beliefs. I think a major part of life is acquiring knowledge. I offer my answers to these questions with the intent to provide and understanding of a certain perspective. I don’t expect that what I write will be seen as absolute truth answers to these questions. I do hope that if you have wondered about these questions that you will consider my answers as a possibility of reality. If you have strong convictions in response to these questions, please share them and we can learn from each other.
Can people define God?
This is a great question. At first blush it seems entirely arrogant to think that we can. I suppose if I were to say “this is who God is because I say so,” then it would be arrogance on my part. But does that mean I can’t know God or his attributes and characteristics? Maybe it means I shouldn’t go around telling people who God is or how God is as though I’m speaking universal truth, but it doesn’t make my knowledge invalid.
Let’s consider this in the context of people. I have a best friend in Hawaii, his name is Markus. I live in Vermont. Most of my friends have never met Markus. I can tell them about Markus because I know him. I lived in his hometown in California for a summer and we’ve kept in touch through phone and internet ever since. I can define him because I know him. I can tell people about Markus and they can choose to believe me or not. But they can’t do any more than have faith in that unless they meet him for themselves. Even I can’t fully describe Markus to my friends because I don’t fully know him. No matter how well I know him, Markus remains a unique individual with much that he doesn’t share with other people. That’s my guess anyway, I think most of us are that way.
So I can know him through personal experience, but others who know him through me have to rely on faith. I suggest it is the same with God. I can know him through my own experiences with him, which are personal and subjective. I can listen to the testimony of others and choose to exercise faith in it, or not. We can only define God so far as he has revealed information about himself to people. We do not know his mind or will an cannot know it unless he allows us to. I think he has allowed us to know a lot of it through prophets, which has been recorded as scripture. I believe we can know God through the words of prophets, but also through the spiritual connection that we each have with God.
I don’t believe we can define God, but I do believe that God has defined himself, and he will confirm truth to us when we seek it if we do so in humility and with faith.
This post turned out longer than my usual posts, so I’ve split it. The second half of this post, consisting of two additional questions, will post on Saturday April 6.