The Limits of Human Understanding

“Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (John 3:11-13).

There is a simple answer to those who accuse us of being foolish for putting our full trust in the Bible, even in cases where there is a conflict between it and what scientists, scholars, or philosophers regard as fact. “How can you believe what the Bible says and reject everything else?” they ask us. We might respond, “And how can you believe in what men say?”

Men boldly conjecture about things far beyond their comprehension. They think they can discern how the universe began, imagine what the divine is like, and create a purpose for man… all by their own man-made methods! In contrast, Jesus said that the only one able to speak in an informed way about celestial things is the one who has been in heaven and who has descended to earth (John 3:11-13). The finite is not an expert in the infinite.

Paul also testified that the tools available to human beings are not enough to discover the divine mysteries (1 Corinthians 1:21-25). “What God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9) cannot be perceived with the only means at our disposal: ears, eyes, and feelings of the heart. The natural man trusts in these things, but he “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Only the spiritual man, who receives what the Spirit teaches through the word (1 Corinthians 2:10-13), can understand the divine mysteries.

We have made a rational decision by trusting God’s revelation instead of the vain claims of those who think they are great and wise. Otherwise, how can we expect to understand “the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages” (1 Corinthians 2:7) by means of the alleged knowledge of those who are “of this age” (1 Corinthians 2:6), even if they are great among their peers? Don’t be afraid to disagree with the famous, the intelligent, or the powerful of this world.

–Brigham Eubanks