FAITH column 4 September, 2016
The biblical story of The Fall of Man has invited debate about its philosophical significance by diverse theologians for thousands of years. Irrespective of belief or denial about the narrative’s truth, it is a didactic tale, inspiring reflection on a Tree of Knowledge with its moral implications of good and evil. In this 21st century, social discourse now proffers knowledge in a very different perspective.
The technological revolution has reshaped our lives, enhancing learning at a click, with knowledge the new market frontier. Notwithstanding information overload, the gratefully good exemplified by scholarly and academic research is perceived as positive while the eminently evil, such as porn and propaganda is decried as negative and a betrayal of our intellectual boundaries. Freedom of choice was implicit in eating the forbidden fruit and we likewise exercise choice when we click on and how often; therein our challenging conundrum.
Knowledge has been intrinsic to religious tradition for centuries, celebrating education as part of the human condition. In Proverbs 2:10-11 it is written –“for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul, discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you.” Knowledge for greater comprehension of complex conflicts, not just in our immediate social environs but of the world at large, is paramount for a benevolent destiny of humankind. It can reveal our past mistakes ensuring they’re not repeated.
Too often now people choose ignorance, albeit unconsciously, as the onslaught of time poor lives preoccupy with a Twitter tweet, Instagram image or Facebook friend, sacrificing knowledge for superficial flippancy on screens. The power of profound knowledge seems abandoned in favour of trite trivia instead.
Appreciating knowledge is not just about extraordinary achievements at school or fancy tertiary titles, but acquiring knowledge beyond formal qualifications enriches life. Ignorance is not bliss. We need to value all knowledge to discern the difference between good and evil to encourage enlightened choices. Knowledge of not just self, but others of a different religion, gender, race and sexual preference among others can foster a more compassionate and harmonious world. This can engender real equity for people and assist in eradicating fear, hate and prejudice often assumed through ignorance but enshrined as irrefutable truths.
A pursuit of knowledge must be applauded not just as a noble heritage of religious history, but is integral in maintaining vibrant and dynamic societies that respect knowledge as sacrosanct. The quest for lifelong learning should be instilled in us all as faith in knowledge is imperative for our well being to understand the past, live in the present and focus on a better future.