Functional Sufficiency: The Yahwistic Answer to Relativism

I woke up this morning without fully understanding all the possible entailments of waking up.  I put on my clothes without comprehending completely the muscle makeup of my body.  I ate breakfast without understanding the totality of the physics of the universe.  I accomplished these tasks apart from having comprehensive knowledge of any of them.

My point is this: we do not require an exhaustive knowledge of a subject in order to have knowledge that is sufficient for functioning on a day to day basis.  Some have argued that we have no right to comment on a subject unless we know it exhaustively and others have made the claim that they have exhaustive knowledge of subjects.  The first are demanding the impossible by expecting finite human beings to have exhaustive knowledge on any subject, and they also are proving they don’t believe their own statement when they make such statements.  The second are deluded by thinking that they are capable of collecting exhaustive knowledge on even the simplest of subjects.

In order to know if we have exhaustive knowledge on a subject we must first hold the totality of knowledge.  Apart from knowing everything we have no way to know if there is more to a subject than the totality of what humans have thus far collected.  Even if an individual were to intellectually store up all currently known information about a subject that individual would still not be able to claim total knowledge on the subject, but rather only relatively thorough knowledge based on what is currently available.  Not to mention that we live in a unified universe where all aspects of reality are interrelated and thus the totality of knowledge is required on all subjects in order for the totality of knowledge to be had on a single subject.

We all live our lives with functionally sufficient knowledge that we modify when necessity forces us to do so.  Usually this comes in the form of our systems of thought running in to situations that are incompatible with what we believe and thus we modify our beliefs or choose insanity by believing what reality has proven false.  This means that the totality of experience must be had by a single individual in order for them to have experienced the necessary condition of their system of thought to have had the opportunity to be molded by all aspects of reality.  This is clearly impossible for the finite creature.

The proofs for the limitations of human knowledge can be multiplied beyond what has already mentioned, but this will only bring despair and the contradiction of relativism (is it ultimately true that we can know no ultimate truth?) unless we temper this strand of thought with the sobering reality of the immanence of Yahweh.  The God of the Bible, Yahweh, is described as transcendent (above and beyond our reality) and immanent (intimately involved with every aspect of our reality).  This means that an infinite all-knowing mind is closely involved in our lives and thought-lives.  He claims control of our thoughts, feelings and actions.  Thus He is fully capable of leading our discovery of information to be information that is sufficient for functioning in the world that He is sustaining.  The seemingly impossible task of gleaning partial truths that we can then functionally use in this world is made very possible by the intelligent guiding hand of a loving God.

No other god has revealed Himself to humanity as Yahweh has.  This is because, as Yahweh says, there are no other gods.  He alone exists and helps humanity and He is alone the only hope that humans have for a coherent philosophical system.  No system of thought can deal with the onslaught of absolute relativism and absolute relativism contradicts itself and self-destructs.  This leaves only one possibility: Yahweh is the source of our reality and the cornerstone of understanding.

It is good to be aware that we live with, at best, functionally sufficient knowledge and not exhaustive knowledge.  Keeping our limitations in mind allows us the option of exercising restraint and not assuming we know more than we actually do, even if we know everything that is currently available on a subject.  This sober reality should then push the individual to look for guidance from the One who has total knowledge; God.  Humility is recognizing our strengths but tempering this knowledge by recognizing our weaknesses and thus not boasting past what God has given to us.


About salutations75

Born and raised Atheist turned Reformed Baptist.
This entry was posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Functional Sufficiency: The Yahwistic Answer to Relativism

  1. I’m ok not knowing everything as well. But that’s only because I know him who does.
    By the way, I ate cherrioes this morning.

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