Limits to what we can truly know

In the March 11, 2010, episode of Speaking of Faith, Janna Levin said the following,

…I think the way [Gödel] said it is actually the clearest and nicest way to say it. “There are some truths that can never be proven to be true.” And it opens up this idea — which terrified people — that there are limits to what we can ever know. And it’s not the first time it happened. If you think about Einstein’s theory of special relativity, it was a similar idea. There are limits to how fast we can ever travel. We are limited by the speed of light. There are limits in quantum mechanics to how much we can ever really know. There are fundamental limits to certainty…

There comes a point in every human endeavor when words fail and human understanding is revealed as finite. In her book The Case for God, Karen Armstrong writes in the chapter titled “Silence ” (p. 123),

Religious people are always talking about God, and it is important that they do so. But they also need to know when to fall silent.

We need to be aware of our limits. Some ideas or concepts may be true yet also remain unprovable. Some experiences, indescribable. And it is in those moments when articulation gives way to silence that we can experience God in a profoundly personal way.

As a counter to our proud and self-justifying egos, the psalmist has God reminding us to take a deep breath for He is in control (Psalms 46:10-11):

“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.


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