I remember an enthusiastic high school glee club, some time back, singing a delightful little tune with a chorus that went like this: “ The more you study, the more you know. The more you know, the more you forget. The more you forget, the less you know so – why study?”
They rendered it gleefully and it brought down the house, at least partially I think because it was coming from a group of bright, college-bound youngsters. I can no longer remember the verses, but that chorus was repeated several times, to much laughter.
However, I wasn’t laughing on the morning of August 24 when I read an op-ed article in the TIMES on the subject of ignorance, above all in the world of science, by Jamie Holmes. The questions raised by Homes got me thinking anew about the vast world of knowledge we have and the danger of thinking all the answers are “out there”. There are probably too many folks who think that Wikipedia has all the info we need.
I used to warn graduating seniors that they were embarking on a path of lifelong learning and that they would never know it all. Their vaguely bored smiles told me that I wasn’t being heard, but I always hoped that some wiser, more mature day might remind them of my words. I know that I daily remind myself that there is always “more.”
Every once in a while some scientific news sets us all to rethinking what we once thought was truth completely defined. Just look at how our nine planet system has shrunk to eight with poor Pluto’s demotion!
Do I dare to say that similar rules of thumb also apply to the realm of learned faith None of our creeds can say it all nor can they provide all the rules for living in a world that medieval theologians could never have envisioned. This should not lead to a “loss” of faith, as if it were some stray set of keys that got misplaced. Instead, I like to see the challenges of new discoveries as invitations to grow and expand.
My faith is not a cement block but a wonderfully elastic mass of protoplasm that can expand and shift form and never lose its center. Anything else detracts from my defining it as “living faith”. The world of science works on its theories and the laboratory searchers peer into and around their microscopes even as we of faith work to reconcile the Word of God with other realms of knowing. It’s lifetime homework!