On Hard Questions

A few days ago a friend sent me a handful of questions regarding creation, evil, the Fall, free will, and so forth. There was a time when I would sweat bullets when these sort of inquiries came. In my ignorance (and arrogance) I thought that I had to be able to provide explanations in full to all comers. Such was utter folly. One of the greatest things I have learned in the intervening years has been that mystery really is the lifeblood of divinity, the nursing mother of wonder, the catalyst of continued inquest, the custodian of the imagination, the guardian of humility, and the patient father of comprehended reality. Folly always knows all the answers; Wisdom has the good sense to shrug her shoulders most of the time. I have attached the introductory remarks from my response below.

Brother, there are questions and then there are the questions. Some of the questions which you have asked are among the most difficult to answer; some variation of many of these queries have been around since enquiring minds first had the temerity to begin the enterprise of asking.

That said, I won’t pretend that I can provide answers that will fully satisfy you. I know this to be true because they don’t fully satisfy me. But that is to be expected. We live in a world literally made out of words; the universe is a figure of speech, a whispered conversation between the persons of the Triune Godhead. As such, mystery is as pervasive as reality itself. Indeed, we can no more fully understand the great mysteries of faith than we can truly understand why a rose turns its face toward the morning sun or the dew kisses the ground in secret each night. At bottom, if we have the courage to go down far enough, everything is beyond us.

But the presence of ever pervasive mystery should not lead us to despair but rather to wonder and faithful obedience. The ‘secret things belong to the Lord but the things which he has revealed belong to us and our children forever that we may be able to follow all the words of his law.’ Since we can’t ultimately know much of anything about anything in this world we are conditioned to accept answers which can bring us a great deal of existential comfort even when they do not fully satisfy all of our intellectual curiosities. This is as it should be. Creatures made in the image of God should always be seeking more and more. As the ages of eternity roll on we will still be seeking to know yet more, and even then as our knowledge is expanded so too will our awareness that the Divine will always be infinitely beyond the comprehension of created minds. This too should lead us to awe and wonder. It is a wonderful reassurance that eternity will never be dull. Ten billion years from now we will have not lost our ability to be surprised and amazed by the genius of Uncreated Omniscience.

I hope that these prefatory remarks demonstrate why it is not necessary to know everything about anything, or even something about everything, in order to be comforted in the true knowledge one has about some things. At the end of the day everything is a statement of faith, regardless of one’s religious commitments. The child’s questions “what” and “why” set every finger to scratching heads when asked enough times in the same general direction. Recognizing that we hardly know anything at all generates enough humility for us to be thankful for what little bit of conscious understanding we are able to wrest from the cosmos.


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