Friday, June 23, 2006

Whaddya Know?

'ach Sov vetlh joH'a' ghajtaH cher apart vaD himself ghaH 'Iv ghaH godly
But know that the LORD has set apart for himself him who is godly Psalm 4:3a

(click for podcast)

Here's an alien word that you may or may not be familiar with: epistemology.

The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge,
its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity.
[Greek epistm, knowledge (from epistasthai, epist-, to understand :
epi-, epi- + histasthai; see st- in Indo-European roots) + -logy.]
( )

I bring the word up, because David brings it up. That is, the first word of this phrase is the Hebrew word yada - to know. This is a very common word (over 800 times in the Bible!) and has a variety of meanings - from intellectual knowledge to physical intimacy. The Klingon word is "Sov" to know. This verse drives home David's confidence that he can trust God's reliability because he KNOWS it.

As the New Living Translation renders this passage:

You can be sure of this:
The LORD has set apart the godly for himself.

Epistemology is the science of thinking about how we KNOW what we know. It's the way we sort out a problem that Will Rogers noted:

it's not what we DON'T KNOW that will hurt us; it's
what we KNOW that ain't so

That is often the problem - how many times have you been alarmed by a "news item" that turns out to be completly bogus? We need the kind of discernment that keeps us from being too credible. For a start I recommend an anti-Urban Legend website like to help you sort out some of the outrageous things "we KNOW that ain't so."

David's assurance - KNOWING of God's care - comes from a life of faith, where he could look back at events in his life, the ups and downs of it, and see God's hand in action. Of course, like us, he relied also on the collective faith, the tradition handed on from Moses down to his time.

Klingons are careful about "what they know" - maybe too much so. They have an inveterate paranoia - they WORRY about knowledge, more specifically KNOWING TOO much. This is expressed in one of their "secrecy proverbs":

"Knowledge of useful information may be unfortunate."
{De' lI' Sovlu'DI' chaq Do'Ha'.}

But the faith of the Bible is an OPEN one - a transparent faith not bound up in secrets. As Jesus said "I said nothing in secret." (John 18:20). The Biblical faith meets the doubter with facts - consider Thomas who is never criticized for doubting, but whose doubt is met with facts to help him believe.

Believers living in a community of fellowship can KNOW from their own experience, and that of their companions in faith, along with the history of Scripture, that the facts on which their faith are based are objective space-time realities, not wishful fantasies. What good news!

'ach Sov vetlh joH'a' ghajtaH cher apart vaD himself ghaH 'Iv ghaH godly
But know that the LORD has set apart for himself him who is godly Psalm 4:3a


jec said...

Another good one--I'm learning alot from your posts!

Joel said...

thank you! it is always good to know someone is listening!

jec said...

How could I not listen to any melding of Christianity and sci-fi;)

Red_Cleric said...

I am linking your Blog to myown on Worship helps. I love it. It's great. And I get much from it.


Red Cleric

Joel said...

Thanks for the nice words - Always good to hear from listeners!