To make a principle out of absence is to perpetuate the absence

Some religious groups argue, “Because God is infinite, we can never know him. The more any tradition claims to know specific features about him, the more it makes mistaken assumptions about him, thus going further away from knowing him.”

Firstly, this argument borders on the self-contradictory. While claiming that nothing specific can be known about God, it makes a very specific claim about knowing God – that he is wholly unknowable.

A second, bigger problem is that the argument conflates two attributes: infinitude and unknowability. Infinitude is God’s defining attribute, but does that make him permanently unknowable to us finite beings? Yes, we can’t know him by our own effort. But he has the omnipotence to make himself knowable to even finite beings. And he does mercifully reveal himself through scripture. No doubt, even by his merciful self-revelation, we can’t know him fully. Still, we can know him enough to fall fully in love with him.

In the Bhagavad-gita’s tenth chapter, God himself in his manifestation as Krishna gives a list of specific examples for conveying his immanence. And he prefaces (10.19) and concludes (10.40) that description with a caveat: the list is not exhaustive, but representative. That the examples are not exhaustive testifies to his infinitude. That they are representative implies that they are real – they take us towards real knowledge of him, thus boosting our devotion.

Some traditions may not feature any specific details about God, but that doesn’t mean he can never reveal such details. Unfortunately, some followers of those traditions try to make a principle out of the absence of positive God-knowledge in their tradition. By such misconceived reasoning, they close themselves to the revelations in other traditions. Thus, they unnecessarily deprive themselves of the positive God-knowledge that can deepen and sweeten their devotion.


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