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Saturday, October 11, 2014

To Believe or to Know

“He who comes from above is above all,
he who is of the earth is from the earth
and speaks of the earth.
He who comes from above is above all.
What he has seen and heard,
of that he bears witness;
and no man receives his witness”
(John 3:31-32)

The repeated refrain of Yeshua to Nicodemus in the Gospel of John, poetically expressed as a wrap in verse 31, “He who comes from above/heaven is above all,” sounds curiously akin to a few statements in the Gospel of Thomas, where they are applied to any of the special few men and women who find their way into the kingdom.
Next we see that he who is “above all” knows, for “what he has seen and heard, of that he bears witness” (v. 32).  This one does not merely “believe,” he knows, for only one who knows can “bear witness.”  However, the manner in which he knows is quite distinct from that of men in general, “for no man receives his witness.”  This is because men, in order to “believe” (let alone “know”) must have empirical evidence or a “sign” the people kept demanding.  Men need to see, touch, hear, and taste in order even to believe, let alone know.  However, he who comes from above knows without that empirical evidence because he has evidence that goes even deeper than the empirical variety.
Often, the knowledge begins with empirical evidence, some miracle that should not be chalked up to “coincidence.”  These are moments for which I mock the skeptics: It takes more faith to believe this statistical impossibility was due to random chance than to believe in a divine miracle.  Sometimes a series of such clues coms forth to boost one’s faith, and once one’s “faith has made [himself] well,” one moves beyond belief, trust and faith, and into knowledge: “I don’t believe, I know,” as Carl Jung has famously answered in response to whether he believed in God.
            At this point, one knows not from empirical evidence, but from some remarkable and inexplicable knowledge from within.  It is akin to the knowledge of babies and toddlers that defies any scientific understanding: How do babies learn how to walk and talk?  Frankly, scientists are baffled and admit they don’t know.  So Noam Chomskey coined the term, “Language Acquisition Device,” known by its acronym the “LAD,” to provide, at the very least, a definition of this mystery and a term for the convenience of researchers, psychologists, pediatricians, educators, and others who work with children who may have a weakened “LAD” in contrast to those who have a healthy “LAD.”
In essence, what is the LAD?  A divinely placed mechanism into humans that teaches us to talk, read, write, and communicate.  Neurologists still haven’t found it, and they won’t, for it is not biological, but a divinely implanted system of knowledge in the human mind.  Others have likened this knowledge to knowing a sunset is beautiful.  How do we know?  Because beauty has been divinely written into our hearts, so when we encounter it, we know.
            Likewise, those “born from above” have another divinely placed mechanism within their mind by which they “know” things others don’t.  Psychics, remote viewers, and those with ESP have such unusual knowledge that’s inexplicable to those without this knowledge.  Those who are spiritually infused with special knowledge, who have been “born from above” and are publicly acknowledged to have spiritual insight are called “prophets.”  Others may lack this public acknowledgement but nevertheless maintain such a divinely placed gifting of inexplicable knowledge.
            Given that such knowledge is inexplicable, “no man receives his witness” (v. 32).  “How are we to believe you?” men ask.  “Just because you say so?”  “What evidence do you have?”  “Show us a sign.”  It cannot be done.  Attempting to explain this knowledge is an exhausting and exasperating trial in futility that thoroughly frustrates both the one trying to explain it and the one trying to understand.  Most who have received such inexplicable knowledge have stories of their own futile attempts at explaining it, often to receive mockery, scorn, and diagnoses of psychological disorders.  Eventually, the wise ones learn to shut up and accept that “no man receives his witness.”