When John wrote his first letter, he said: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
Four words from that verse are interesting: “that you may know.” These four words also beg the question: “What can we know about God?” I believe the response to this question falls into 1 of 3 categories:
- God is unknowable, and we can know nothing about Him.
- We can know everything there is to know about God.
- Even though we cannot know everything there is to know about God, we can know something about God.
Each of the three items above are the basis of a worldview, and your worldview is the lens through which you view reality.
Concerning item #1 in the list above, if a person knows enough about reality in order to affirm that nothing can be known about reality, then he knows something about reality, so he cannot assert that all of reality is unknowable. Stated another way, if he knows nothing about reality then he can’t make a statement about reality. I find this to be a self-refuting position because it assumes some knowledge about reality in order to deny any knowledge of reality.
In regard to item #2, I’ve studied religions for the most part of my life, and I would never agree with this statement.
Item #3 is, I believe, the most accurate statement. I know I cannot know everything there is to know about God, but I do know that I can know some things about God.
When you discuss the possibility of God’s existence and the potential of knowing Him the thinking of Aristotle is interesting. In Physics, Aristotle offered some logical reasoning that concludes that the initial cause of motion must be something that is not, itself, in motion or what the philosopher called “an unmoved mover (1984, 1:428).”
Thomas Aquinas was influenced by Aristotle, and he built on Aristotle’s reasoning: “Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another…. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality…. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e., that it should move itself. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover…. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God (1952, 19:12,13).”
Because God is both eternal and spiritual and not physical or finite being, He is not subject to the condition of requiring a beginning. This is a key concept in the Law of Causality set forth by Immanuel Kant. According to Kant, “everything which is contingent has a cause, which, if itself contingent, must also have a cause; and so on, till the series of subordinated causes must end with an absolutely necessary cause, without which it would not possess completeness (Kant, 2008, p. 284).” Simply put, an uncaused Cause is necessary, and only God sufficiently fills that void.
Jeff Miller has expounded on the works of Aristotle, Aquinas, and Kant: “If there ever were a time in history, when absolutely nothing existed—not even God—then nothing would exist today, since nothing comes from nothing (in keeping with common sense and the Law of Thermodynamics, Miller, 2007). However, something exists (e.g., the Universe)—which means something had to exist eternally. That something could not be physical or material, since such things do not last forever (cf. Second Law of Thermodynamics, Miller, 2007). It follows that the eternal something must be non-physical or non-material. It must be mind rather than matter. Logically, there must be a Mind that has existed forever. That Mind, according to the Bible (which has characteristics proving it to be of supernatural origin, cf. Butt, 2007), is God. He, being spirit, is not subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics (The Law of Causality and the Uncaused Cause, Jeff Miller, Ph.D.).”