Now What's Next? By Randy Nettles In March of last year, I wrote an article…
The Origins of Knowledge
By Dr. Nathan E. Jones
The summer of 2023 saw the theatrical release of the Christopher Nolan biopic, Oppenheimer. The movie dramatizes the historical account of The Manhattan Project — the codename for the massive, top-secret, military enterprise that had mobilized America’s scientific genius and industrial complex to build an atomic superweapon that would end World War II.
The featured character in the movie was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, the famed physicist Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. He had recruited the top brains in physics and nuclear sciences and gathered them covertly to a secret base in New Mexico. There in the desert, the men tirelessly labored away designing and building the world’s very first plutonium implosion device, nicknamed Gadget.
On July 16, 1945, at a carefully selected site in a barren valley near Alamogordo, New Mexico, codenamed Trinity, the test bomb was detonated. As the atomic mushroom cloud blazed like an inferno some 40,000 feet high over the test site, Oppenheimer reflected on the horrors his new technology had just released upon the world. He uttered a quote from the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
The Father of the Atomic Bomb would later note: “The atomic bomb made the prospect of future war unendurable. It has led us up those last few steps to the mountain pass; and beyond there is a different country.” At that mountain pass, the Atomic Age was born, and mankind would never feel safe again.
The Source of Knowledge
What is striking about The Manhattan Project’s scientists, other than their youth, was how these physicists were so often amazed by how easily their ideas flowed. Walls to discovery were torn down and mathematical obstacles overcome at breathtaking speed, as if divine inspiration had been guiding their thoughts. Even Oppenheimer noted, “It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them.” It was as if a cosmic door had been opened and the scientists ushered through into the realm of the Almighty, and there He unlocked the mystery of nuclear power.
For the Christian, this should not be so surprising, for technology is in essence the practical application of knowledge. And where do knowledge and the wisdom to properly wield technology come from? They originate directly from Almighty God.
Job once asked, “Can anyone teach God knowledge?” (Job 21:22). The obvious answer is no; no one can teach an all-knowing God. Job later referred to God as, “Him who is perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16). That means that God is absolute, flawless, and perfect. He is the ultimate in knowing all things. He even knows all things down to the tiniest minutia, such as the number of hairs on each of our heads (Luke 12:7).
The prophet Isaiah also asked similar rhetorical questions: “With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:14).
Nobody! God is the Author and the Creator. All that ever was to be known, is known, or will be known has been authored by God. To have real knowledge then means to know what God already knows.
You can understand then why the Apostle Paul cried out: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).
That means that everything that mankind has ever known has originated from God. That also means that when believers in Christ finally get to Heaven to live with our omniscient Savior forever and ever, we will also continue to learn forever and ever. We will never catch up to what God already knows because what He knows is infinite, just as He is infinite.
The Keeper of Knowledge
Not only is God the source of knowledge, but He is also the keeper of knowledge.
The Proverbs reveal that “the eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge” (Proverbs 22:12). In other words, God protects knowledge as if it were a commodity. Paul explains the reason as, “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). God sees both wisdom and knowledge as actual treasures. And He doles out those treasures as He sees fit, keeping the keys to certain scientific breakthroughs hidden until He wants humanity to at last discover them.
Bear in mind that wisdom, like technology, is simply the practical application of knowledge. Therefore, God as the keeper of wisdom is also the keeper of technology.
The Provider of Knowledge
God may be the source and the keeper of knowledge, but He’s also generous in sharing what He knows. God then becomes the provider of knowledge, and so therefore technology. That means that all those technologies that humanity have invented and taken credit for, well, it can be argued that they in truth came from the very mind of God — the Provider — when He saw fit to release that knowledge.
Proverbs teaches that, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). Supposedly, when E.F. Hutton talks, people listen, but every time God talks, we learn something eternal. That is why it’s so important to read God’s Word.
The author of Ecclesiastes wrote, “For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight” (Ecclesiastes 2:26). And how are we good in His sight? How do we please God? By doing His will for, “Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).
That the all-knowing God of the universe is the source, keeper, and provider of all knowledge is, to quote Donald Trump: “Yuge!” It is so huge, in fact, that I must point out again that the technology that we have today was given to us by God only when He saw fit to reveal it.
Former President Obama once accused our nation’s companies saying: “You didn’t make that.” He meant that without the government’s help, our companies could never have made the widgets and services that they make. Obama was wrong about the necessity of government involvement, but he would have been correct if he had attributed the inspiration of our technology to God.
God provides the knowledge and inspiration to produce certain technologies at the key times He has designated, all because He is the provider of knowledge. The prophet Daniel added to this vital point with, “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Daniel 2:21). Here we learn that God gives even more knowledge, and the wisdom to apply that knowledge, to those who know how to utilize knowledge. And, if you happen to be knowledgeable and wise, it is because the Holy Spirit has made you that way.
Paul added, “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:8). God made us each with a certain level of knowledge, skills, and wisdom; and we each apply those to implementing technology to fix our problems and make stuff.
Promises Concerning Knowledge
God has also made certain promises concerning knowledge. Young Timothy learned from his mentor, Paul, that when it comes to the knowledge about salvation God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). And who does God want to possess the knowledge of the truth of salvation and so be saved? All of humanity! Now, whether people accept that saving knowledge or not, well, that’s up to them. But, when it comes to the knowledge concerning salvation, God provides it freely.
Titus learned from Paul that the hope of eternal life in God, who cannot lie, was actually promised before time began (Titus 1:1-2). God promised the knowledge about salvation before the beginning of time, and long before humanity had ever sinned.
Living Without Knowledge
We would agree that there are many smart people out there who clearly have a good amount of knowledge. And we would agree that there are just as many people out there who are clearly lacking in knowledge. The book of Proverbs tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). If we have no knowledge of the Holy One, what do we really have? Nothing! Without respect for God, to seek Him, and to learn about Him, our man-made knowledge becomes absolutely worthless. This proverb is an emphatic declaration that the first step to attaining true knowledge must begin with accepting the fact that there is a God if we are to really know anything at all.
If we do not first begin our quest for attaining knowledge by acknowledging there is a God, and follow that by identifying Him as the God of the Bible, then we end up with the opposite of knowledge, which is ignorance. Take for instance Paul’s warning to Timothy, “Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20).
So, there’s godly knowledge, and then there’s mankind’s knowledge. Mankind’s knowledge is rarely built upon God’s knowledge, and so it ends up being, in reality, not even knowledge at all.
Mankind’s knowledge, apart from God’s knowledge, is false and worthless. So-called knowledge apart from God turns geniuses into ignoramuses. Ignorance has consequences, for as God through the prophet Hosea bemoaned, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
Without knowing Jesus Christ as Savior, we die without forgiveness for our sins and so face eternal punishment in Hell for our rebellion against God. Not knowing the source and provider of knowledge, especially when it comes to the knowledge concerning salvation, is literally killing us in this life and ultimately in Hell in the next life.
Even Oppenheimer, a non-practicing Jew with an appreciation for the Hindu Vedras, still remarked on the general revelation revealed in his explorations of nature, “In some sort of crude sense, which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.”
The Destiny of Knowledge
Does knowledge have a destiny? The Bible tells us so, and it is two-fold.
First, “Whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away” (1 Corinthians 13:8). That man-made earthly knowledge that we’re so keen on stoking, which puffs up so many egos and leads so many people astray from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, well, it will all end, and someday soon.
And second, that man-made earthly knowledge that we put so much stock into, will ultimately be replaced with, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14).
God’s knowledge is all that matters, for man-made knowledge will be replaced totally, universally, and forever by the wonderful truth of God — the Source, Keeper, and Provider of knowledge.