The conventional answer to that question is of course, “No way!” But is that really true? I think my answer is more like “Probably not.” Maybe the question is too broad, maybe it should be, “Can we comprehend the ways of God?”
I’m still not sure; it’s a little too theoretical for my usual tastes, but it does deserve more thought than we usually give it.
I’ve posted in the past about not being able to comprehend heaven and salvation, and the conclusion I usually come to is that we simply lack the vocabulary to properly and adequately describe them, and the references to transmit their fullness in language. My thinking is that since nobody has been to heaven per se, nobody has invented the words that would be needed to describe it. When the Bible makes reference to heaven, it uses word pictures to describe it, using earthly frames of reference that, when taken literally, can lead us to inaccurate conclusions about it. A word picture is not intended to be taken literally. Moving forward, if you have ever studied a foreign language beyond the very basic level, you have come across words that don’t have an English counterpart, and are thus difficult to translate. One such word from my own experience is the German word Gemütlichkeit, there just isn’t an English word that can translate this one; it takes several sentences, and then I’m still not sure we’ve quite got it. According to Wikipedia, the closest word is “cozy” and then they go on and on from there, so the limitations of human vocabulary is one problem that we face with our questions about God.
Another problem that we have in trying to comprehend the ways of God is our lack of adequate frames of reference. These references are the little hooks of understanding that convey whole experiences or meanings that go well beyond the mere words. Recently Little Monk posted a piece that used frames of reference from Star Trek only to discover that younger readers had no clue what was meant! I got it, but then I am not as young as I once was… I can remember the time that my father used the expression “Hooverville” and I had no clue. Being a persistent lad, I made him explain it, and I got a history lesson about the Great Depression. Lately I’ve noticed that Little Monk and Paulfg have been using the word “sacred” to describe God’s ways in certain respects; at least it provides some of the attributes of references. Certainly, the only place we can really go for references would be Scripture, and yet those Scriptural references tend to take us more to texts than to concepts… imperfect references at best.
Here’s an idea, what do you think of this one: You’ve heard that the scientists say that we only use a very small percentage of our brain’s computing capacity, right? I’ve been hearing that said for 45 years or more, and that the percentage we actually use is something like 5-10 percent. Could it be that the other 90% is the “God part”? Maybe when they sinned in the Garden, God cut them off from the Tree of Life because it contained the access code to unlock the rest of our brains’ abilities. Maybe we don’t get that access code until we actually get to heaven!
Weil, even if that were true, we’d still lack the references and the vocabulary, unless….
Well, enough of that idle speculation. It’s just a crazy thought. But it is kind of fun to think about if you have a little extra time on your hands. I know that if I were still hanging out in the faculty lounge with the other theology professors, I’d run it up the flagpole. If nothing else it would be more fun to talk about that over lunch, than hearing yet again how bad my Lakers are this year!