Information rich, knowledge poor
More and more world citizens are hooked up to the brave new world of the Internet; many are hooked on it. As I write this blog, I am waiting for a courier to deliver my marvelous new conduit to the www. world — an ADSL modem that will open up the marvels of broadband and all that that means. I will be more capable than ever of finding untold masses of information. Oh joy of joys! Of course, I will have to be careful. After all, if I google on “Martin Luther King” I am going to find that the first site on the list will be a white supremacist site that will seek to fill me with hatred towards everything he stood for (so a researcher interviewed on the radio said yesterday). Frustration awaits, too. When I finally find a page that tells me it has the serious information I want, in all likelihood it will say something like, “This page is available to subscribers. If you wish to subscribe, click here.” Access to most of the information I want would cost thousands of dollars per year.
At first blush one could easily think that the ancient Israelite king, Solomon, would be jumping with joy to see our Internet age.
The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge , and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge (Prov. 18:15).
Surely any inquisitive person who surfs the Internet will acquire the knowledge Solomon spoke about. Not so. We live in a deceitful world where people confuse information with knowledge. We are drowning in information, but starving for real knowledge. We are informed about everything, but we know almost nothing. The more information we acquire, the less essential knowledge we seem to be absorbing. The early evangelist, Timothy, would not in his grave if he could see us now. He penned, under inspiration, some amazingly insightful words:
… always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:7).
Contrary to Timothy and God, Darwin, Marx, Freud and their ilk embraced positivism, the notion that true knowledge is obtained by use of the five senses alone by employing the scientific method. Others would add that this knowledge can be enhanced, or deepened, by the application of logic to the knowledge gained by such sensory observation.
Though both of these tools are sound and biblically-endorsed (see, for example, Proverbs 20:12, Romans 1:20 and, for an example of biblical use of logic, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19), the information they provide has limited value. At its best, it can enhance the quality of human life. Wrongly used, of course, it can wreak destruction, as in the knowledge that made the invention of the atomic bomb possible.
When Timothy spoke of “the truth” he evidently had in mind knowledge that has a far longer shelf life than mere information — “the truth” not only edifies and is useful in this life, its value endures for eternity. Turning information into truth requires a third source of knowledge — revelation from God of information not attainable by any other means (found in the Bible). Solomon spoke of this knowledge:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7)
Unless one acknowledges God and makes knowledge of Him and His thinking the top priority, then we may go on learning indefinitely but never come to “the knowledge of the truth”. The knowledge of God, the most valuable knowledge of all, is despised by our secular societies. To attain to this knowledge, one must embrace a vital tool of growing in knowledge — faith. Further, Scripture shows that those who respond to God will be granted a clarity of thought that others do not have (John 8:31-32). They will attain to knowledge of salvation.
Do you rejoice at the knowledge (not just the information) that the time is coming when the entire human race will finally recognize and embrace with enthusiasm the most important knowledge of all?
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14).
When people prostrate themselves before God and embrace the dimension of faith, true knowledge will explode. No longer will people be fools, believing that we are just plain lucky to be here (big bang and evolution), they will be wise, knowing the truth, worshiping and glorifying God.