I often wonder why we are missing big or important pieces of information related to God, religious doctrine, or other religious matters. Life would be a lot easier if we could know a lot of these things, or so it seems at least. I certainly don’t profess to know much in this arena, but have a few thoughts on the subject.
First, I enjoy reading some sci-fi novels, especially ones where the author attempts to tackle time travel. No matter the time travel story, the time travel conundrum is always present – deciding whether it is possible for the main character to go back and visit himself in the past, especially if he does something that would prevent him from being alive long enough to reach the point in the future at which he went back to the past.
I eventually realized that knowledge of ‘everything’ can present the same type of conundrum. If God revealed to me, for example, that I was going to be in a car accident on Tuesday while commuting to work, the knowledge of what would happen to me would alter how I would act on Tuesday. I might take a different route, call in sick, etc. The ‘revealed’ knowledge on my future, and the accident in particular, would alter my conduct, which would then alter my future, making it so that I really didn’t know my future.
In other words, knowledge of the future acts to change my current path, leading me away from the path on which the knowledge of my future was based. Suppose, for example, that my path, prior to knowing about the car accident, was ‘path X’. When I learn about where my path X is leading, I would suddenly change my conduct, meaning that I am now on path Z, which leads to a different future, which would mean that I never saw my actual future when I saw where path X led. Trying to follow all of these possibilities is quite the mental exercise, but it certainly creates an interesting problem when it comes to ‘revealing’ the future, as the ‘future’ may simply be a path that never results when I switch paths as opposed to my ‘actual’ future.
The point of this is to simply highlight that ignorance may keep us on the right path. If we believe and accept that 1) God loves us and has our best interests, in an eternal sense, in mind, 2) we are imperfect creatures that would likely, if given the option, choose to avoid hard or difficult times, and 3) growth can come through trials, then I think that it necessarily follows that God will not reveal everything to us so that we remain on the path that will produce the best results for us, as such path of best results is likely strewn with obstacles, work, effort, hardships, pain, loss, etc. In other words, it seems that we would naturally gravitate towards the path of least resistance, as opposed to voluntarily remaining on the path that will bring us the most good in the end.
While my example involved a future harm (a car accident), there are other things that we don’t know that don’t appear to cause harm, such as many details related to Heaven, God, why some are born with disabilities, etc. We often want to know answers to many questions in life, but I would guess that we are entirely incapable of recognizing how certain information will affect our current path. Some information may change our perspective, even so slightly, as to cause us to go down a different path than we would have before. And, if that new path was less optimal than the path we were on, it seems to me that a loving God would withhold the information so that we persevered on the path that was most optimal for us. Multiply this by the infinite number of affects to other people’s paths that results from my ‘changed’ path, and I am left recognizing that only an all-knowing and all-seeing God could perfectly balance the amount of information necessary to be known with the amount of information necessary to withhold, both for my life and for the course of humanity.
Basically, it seems to me that only a ‘perfect’ being could be all-seeing, as only a ‘perfect’ being could submit to a path that He knows would produce great heartache and pain. As an example, Jesus knew of the agony of the atonement and crucifixion, yet He never deviated from the path that He knew perfectly well would produce his most serious pain and sorrow, as He knew it was the path that was necessary for our salvation. I am certain I do not have the commitment or willpower to knowingly stay dedicated to such a path as He did. Therefore, I am grateful that I do not know everything and do not know all that my future holds, so that I can move forward one day at a time, trusting that whatever comes, God will give me the power and ability to overcome and continue on.
Second, I feel that we lack information on many details simply because it is impossible for our finite minds to process infinite subjects. If there are certain subjects that we cannot understand with our limited mind power at this time and of which we would form a seriously wrong impression of based on the information received on the subject, it seems to me that God would simply not talk about the subject and just reassure me that answers are there – I just need to keep moving forward until I reach a point at which I can understand those topics. I do this all of the time with my children, not telling them everything about life before they can fully understand what I am telling them, and I can see no reason why it would be different for me as a Child of God.
While I know that we tend to think of ourselves as quite learned and smart, the reality is that we have only begun scratching the surface of an infinitesimally small portion of our Universe (our Earth). There is so much yet to know, understand, and learn, that we really are like little children in God’s eyes, growing, learning, and developing. Therefore, when I think about an all-knowing, all-seeing God, I think about how far I still have to go and realize that I can be content not knowing everything yet, as I have a lot of growing, developing, and progressing to do.
Third, I believe that, in order to become like God, we have to exercise faith. We have to be willing to walk paths that take us to an unknown, but hoped for, destination. There is a lot of discussion and information packed into the concept of faith, but right now it is sufficient to mention that faith allows us to tap into and utilize the power of God in our life. Faith is a form of power, and allows for the creation of something new, something that benefits and improves. If I recognize that I don’t know everything, I can put my belief and efforts into the hands of the One who does know everything and let Him make far more of my life than I would otherwise be able to if I thought that I knew everything about the item I was addressing at the time.
Ultimately, I believe that, with our finite minds, there are many matters that cannot be comprehended or understood without us experiencing those items. The greatest truths of life have to be experienced in order to be understood. True love, for example, has to be experienced to be understood. Color has to be seen, not described. Crisp, fall air has to be felt, not talked about. Life, ultimately, is an experience, and logic and information only go so far in promoting our understanding. The deepest sense of understanding comes through experience, and it takes faith to experience things as we have to first believe and then act in order to experience.
For example, if we are at a place and surrounded by darkness, God might whisper to us to continue forward. Our mind may raise warning alarms due to the appearance of harm or the unknown. The path we are on might take us through some tough times, and it may be impossible for us to understand why the path is a good one prior to our experiencing it. Due to this, our faith in God, if followed, will propel us forward despite what we ‘see’ or ‘understand’, and will help us to maintain a hope that there is a good reason and purpose for the path we are on. However, our limited mind might scream at us to stop since the appearance of our path, or the logic we can understand, suggests that it isn’t the right path. If we continue forward in faith though, we ultimately experience things we would never be able to otherwise experience, and those experiences deepen our understanding and enrich our lives at some point in the future. As I certainly cannot see the future, I do my best to move forward in faith, trying not to get too weighed down with what I don’t understand so that I can experience, live, and grow and make it closer in the end to God.
I’m certain that there are many more reasons why God doesn’t reveal everything to us. However, these three give me plenty to think about and help me understand that I can trust that God knows what He is doing. From what I can see, our optimal futures can be reached through the information revealed so far (helping us to get off of bad paths), while the withholding of other information may help to keep us on an optimal path. Of course, we can choose to deviate from these optimal paths despite what God has revealed, but if we choose to have faith and move forward based on what has been revealed, the combination of information known and faith required on the information unknown will help us to stay on the right path and lead us to the brightest possible future. Therefore, I elect to keep following God, even though I certainly don’t understand everything involved yet, and yet keep a hope that one day, one day, I will have experienced enough to understand the answers to my deepest questions.