Religious Knowledge is the Lowest Form of Knowledge? Wednesday Wisdom

“The Greeks learned in order to comprehend.  The Hebrews learned in order to revere.  The modern man learns in order to use…He feels, acts, and thinks as if the sole purpose of the universe were to satisfy his needs…He has supreme faith in statistics and abhors the idea of a mystery.  Obstinately he ignores the fact that we are all surrounded by things which we apprehend but cannot comprehend; that even reason is a mystery to itself.  He is sure of his ability to explain all mystery away.  Only a generation ago he was convinced that science was on the way to solve all the enigmas of the world.  In the words of a poet:  Whatever there is to know that we shall know someday.

Religious knowledge is regarded as the lowest form of knowledge…modern man having achieved the final stage eschews all appeal to unobservable entities.  In the place of God, humanity — the grand Etre — becomes the supreme object of adoration.  However, what is considered an achievement from the perspective of modern man may be judged a privation by the post-modern man.  In future generations, people will find difficulty in understanding how at one time generations existed who did not regard the idea of God as the highest concept of which man is capable, but who, on the contrary, were ashamed of it and considered the development of atheism a sign of progress in the emancipation of human thought.

Dazzled by brilliant achievements of the intellect in science and technique, we have not only become convinced that we are masters of the earth; we have become convinced that our needs and interests are the ultimate standard of what is right and wrong.

Comforts, luxuries, success continually bait our appetites, impairing our vision of that which is required but not always desired.  They make it easy for us to grow blind to values.  Interests are the value-blind man’s dog, his pathfinder and guide.

Modern man is gradually recovering from the shock of realizing that, intellectually, he has no right to dream anymore; no right to mourn his lost craving for that which he may need but to which he has become indifferent.  He has, indeed, long since ceased to trust his will to believe or even his grief about the loss of a desire to believe.”

–Abraham Joshua Heschel, God In Search of Man

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