Do you know that or do you just “Google-know” it? “Google-know” is an interesting expression of late. How much does Google know about you? Click here to find out! Well, there may be lots of bits collected on me, but Google still doesn’t know me at all. And this distinction is one reason why I find many arguments against God and faith so superficial and uninteresting.
The internet, especially the Google and Wikipedia phenomenon, seems to have given people the impression that they actually know a thing or that they can speak as an expert on a subject simply by looking it up and parroting an answer. I’ve had people argue with me on a point that I have personal knowledge on by giving a Wikipedia or dictionary definition, then proceed to show me how little they actually understand what they’re talking about. And I’m not trying to say I’m expert in all things, but there are things I truly know not just Google-know. I’m sure you do, too.
I remember when I was about to graduate with a degree in Electronic Engineering back in 1982, one of our professors said to us, “Okay, now go out and learn something about electronics.” I quickly learned the truth of that statement when I went into the field.
It pains me to have to say this because it should be self-evident, but there’s knowledge about our reality that goes beyond philosophical arguments or science’s ability to observe or postulate a theory. There’s intuitive truth, like knowing that the world we see is framed and continues to exist by something we can’t see or observe by natural means (Heb.11:3).
There’s also shared human experiences, there’s knowing that we don’t often do as we should, or the truth of sacrificial love, suffering, joy, honor, courage, graciousness, beauty, wonder, art, friends that never quit on you….or the love you feel when you hold your newborn child in your arms for the first time.
This knowledge defies description. It cannot be understood unless it’s experienced, and I would argue, goes much deeper than intellectual abstractions or even concrete scientific methodology.
It’s so profound it changes us.
This is why no matter how much we know about our biological chemical reactions in the brain, it will never really explain what it means to be in love, or even to be alive at all. At least, we’ll never be satisfied or moved by such steely-cold reductionisms. The flattened world of scientific explanation doesn’t really satisfy or explain anything about the innate longings of the human soul. It’s the wrong kind of knowledge for that.
I have a knowledge about my wife that you will never have, even if you could somehow collect every fact about her. You’ll still never fully understand my experience of her. What it feels like for me to be loved by her and experience her companionship at a deep heart level.
After 40 years of living life with her, I don’t just have Google-knowledge of my wife, I have a much deeper and more meaningful relational knowledge that has shaped me and helped me understand something very profound about life itself.
Using our expression, human beings only “Google-knew” God before Jesus. He was the only One who actually knew God intimately. This is clear from Scripture:
27 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matt.11:27 NLT)
18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18 NIV)
The Old Testament is full of stories about men and women who knew God from a distance, by faith, but not as He really was. This is why we must interpret the Bible through the lens of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can explain what God is really like to us.
We can theologically and philosophically talk about God and His existence, but that doesn’t mean that we know anything meaningful about Him. Likewise, we can quote the Bible to make our arguments, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we know what the Bible is actually saying to us.
The devil quoted the Bible in order to lie to Jesus.
And this gets to what bugs me in general about Christian apologetics when it comes to defending the veracity of Scripture. I think Jordan Peterson is right when he says that both the Fundamentalist Bible literalists and anti-Christian atheists believe that science gives us the only real knowledge there is, because both appeal to scientific methods to prove their point (see video clip here). It only shows how scientistic we’ve become as a culture, whether we believe the Bible or not.
What’s ironic is that science cannot prove or disprove anything about God. Science cannot give us biblical truth, and the Bible doesn’t necessarily give us scientific truth (see my post, “Science cannot replace God.”)
There’s knowledge that comes from facts and evidence and there’s knowledge that goes much deeper, is much more meaningful where it matters, and that’s truth that frees us to be our authentic selves and become better human beings. Truth is a Person, and knowing Him, not just Google-knowing Him, is what makes us truly free.
31-32 Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” (John 8:31-32 MSG)