All knowledge begins with sense wonder. The human person encounters something that is unknown, and wonder, as a species of fear, acts as the origin of the human person’s journey to understand what that something is by nature.
Wonder engages with sense experience but with an openness to this previously unknown something. The human person has different types of knowledge: on the one hand, a person may rest after discovering why 2+2=4; on the other hand, a person may rest after choosing to love another person. Being is analogical; the word “knowledge” means a relation with something objective that a human person conforms to in some way.
Objections to an Analogical View of Knowledge
Given the claim of analogical being, someone could claim the following: mathematical knowledge is disputable since numbers are merely representative and knowing love, even whether a person loves someone else, changes over time. Furthermore, love changes with how a person feels about that love. If a person cannot claim an objectivity in knowledge, in either something objective and certain like mathematics or something subjective like love, then there is no difference between types of truths and types of knowledge. In fact, knowledge is elusive and uncertain.
God Is Not Mathematics; He Is a Person
Knowledge of God does not involve formulas; God is a Person. No one can claim that any person is reducible to a formula. All human persons have knowledge of other human persons primarily through love.
When people spend time together either in silence or performing other activities, each person learns through loving. When a person spends time in prayer with God, the person relates him or herself to another Person. Why do people go out for coffee together and just talk? All human persons relate to themselves and those around them in either a loving or non-loving way.
Why Knowledge Is Analogical
A person cannot claim the proposition “knowledge is elusive and uncertain” as true due to the statement contradicting itself. Any statement of fact cannot be a non-statement of fact at the same time and in the same respect.
When the intellect knows something of a lower order (e.g., an animal, or a plant, or a stone), the intellect “tears away” (abstracts) the essence of a finite thing and that same essence completes the intellect of the knower. In this act of knowing, the knower and known become one.
When considering the objective truth of mathematics, whether reality is wave forms, vibrations, or atoms, reality reduces to some “matter” that subsists. Two apples in a basket with an additional two apples becomes four apples in a basket. Whatever is responsible for the material of the apple, whether wave forms, vibrations, atoms, or something else, cannot change that each apple is a substance that has quantity. If different mathematical symbols are used to represent the quantity, the change does not affect the existence of quantity.
When considering someone who is in love, the person seeks out the object of love. In this act, the person tears nothing away from the beloved, but instead pushes toward the other seeking union of some kind. Before a husband could love his wife and a wife love her husband, they both had to know each other existed. Yet, by willing to be around each other, learning more about each other, the couple deepens their love for one another and are married. As time goes on, each spouse shows love to the other in small ways that may change over time, and now their love creates knowledge. Only the husband can look at his wife and have a general idea of how she is feeling without even asking. The wife has no physical ticks that may alert a third party observer to how she feels, but the husband just knows truths that no one else knows because he loves her.
There are different kinds of truths: truths a person knows objectively by bringing them into the intellect and truths a person knows by seeking out and loving the object of the person’s love. A human person must know something first before loving it, and knowing it is a truth in its own right, but once a person loves something, over time that love creates knowledge that only the lover and the beloved know, and those are truths too, but of a type begotten by love, not abstraction.
God is infinite and beyond any person’s capability to abstract anything about Him. Remember, abstraction requires finitude. Thankfully, God is a Person, and that means a human person knows God by loving Him. In prayer, a person can learn truths about Him, just like a person learns truths about friends, family members, and spouses by loving them.