I recently came upon an interesting series of quotations. They apparently come from various experts who did not really know what they were talking about when they spoke. For instance, the Western Union internal memo in 1876 which reads: "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." Or the wisdom of physicist Lord Kelvin, president of the Royal Society in 1895: "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." Or Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre who said: "Aeroplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." These represent just a few of the gaffes that have been made by those who did not understand what they were saying and could not see what would happen in the future.
This kind of shortsightedness is a good reminder of the limitations of human knowledge. We are finite creatures who are dependent on God for everything. The Bible indicates that this dependency extends to life, breath and everything else. We might not like to admit it, but it is true. We know nothing with absolute certainty. Our knowledge is never absolute or exhaustive. To have that kind of knowledge we would either have to be God, or we would have to explore the entire universe and discover and analyze all the facts that make up reality. Because we are not divine nor capable of discovering all there is to know, our knowledge is at best localized, fragmentary and in need of constant revision as more information becomes available. This explains why each successive generation can look back at the previous one and wonder how they could be so blind in certain areas where we now know so much more!
Some in our day do not believe that there is any escape from this epistemological dilemma. They think we are bound to relativity and limited to telling our own stories that attempt to explain reality from our point of view. But the Bible gives us another option. It presents us with God who is all-knowing and who is able to communicate with us as human beings. He alleviates our need to collect and analyze all the facts of the universe. If we are willing to listen to him and accept his word we can know the truth even though our understanding is never exhaustive. This does not mean that all of our interpretations of the Scriptures are accurate and do not need revision. Scripture must interpret Scripture, since only God's word can explain his revelation to us. But our claim is that if we interpret the Scriptures properly we can know what God wants us to know. We can be wise when it comes to salvation and we can know how to live so as to glorify him.
The experts are sometimes wrong. The Scriptures are never wrong. Human interpreters may err. But if we approach the Bible with reverence and prayer and with a desire to really want to learn what God has for us, we can know the truth that sets us free. Here is something else to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!