(In case you’re not familiar with the program, Theology on Tap is another way of saying, “hey, we’re trying to make religion fun for young people by holding a lecture at a bar.”)
Yesterday’s topic was “end-of-life issues,” things like how far should you go to sustain a life that is likely to end soon anyway, and what medical procedures should you have performed when it’s probable that no procedure will help.
I don’t know what I was expecting. I couldn’t have really thought that in one short hour, this man would be able to provide some guidelines that made sense and didn’t cause even more confusion. There were people there studying to become priests and they had questions. I don’t know how I thought I could possibly leave with a clear picture.
But it wasn’t because my brain lacked the ability to understand what he was saying. I understood what he was saying just fine. It was because my brain lacks the ability to understand God. Great revelation here, right? I know. The interesting thing, though, was how the speaker–someone who had studied this stuff for years–didn’t understand either. He even started out his entire lecture with the idea that we don’t get to understand these things. Fine. Accepted. And yet, there he stood, for almost an hour, trying to explain them.
I’m not saying people shouldn’t discuss things they don’t understand. I’m not emancipating myself from my religion because the people in charge don’t really get it either. I’m just noting that a topic like this one that is so obviously ethically difficult and has so many varying viewpoints (even between theologians) highlights the idea that we don’t know anything. Not just religious stuff, but any stuff. Even the simple things. Even the things we think we know for a fact. Maybe that’s why I am incapable of answering True or False questions. (It’s not; it’s because I overthink them. But maybe no one else actually knows the answers to them either.) There are very few, if any, black-and-white truths. I think I’ve always been pretty good about admitting what I don’t know, but I don’t know that I’ve always been good at recognizing that other people don’t know either.
It’s strangely comforting to realize we’re all just thrown together in this universe, clueless and curious.
Who was it that said the smartest people are the ones who know that they don’t know something (excuse my laziness in–probably doing a horrible job of–paraphrasing instead of just looking it up)? Socrates? I’m no expert philosopher, but I think the guy was onto something.