The Things We Know We Can’t Know

There are things we can know: the circumference of a cylinder, for example. Or the number of miles in a kilometer. The capital of Kansas.

Then there are things we can’t know: what happens after we die. If there is a meaning to life, and if so, what it is. If one religion or moral code is inherently superior to another.

There’s nothing wrong with believing in things that we can’t know, so long as we know that they are things we can’t know.

It’s when we’ve decided that we can know the things we can’t know, despite there being no facts, just wants and emotions and faith, that things get tricky. When there are no answers, there’s no way to disprove any answer that’s given.

The meaning of life might be muffins. When we die, maybe we turn into shoes. There’s no way to prove or disprove either of these assertions.

We may someday have the science to understand how the world was created. We may someday have the math to describe what happens after we die.

Until then, just remember the different between the two types of knowledge and be careful about trusting anyone who says they know something they can’t.

Either they’re a revolutionary a huckster trying to sell you something, or a person who’s given up their searching for meaning having decided it’s easier to stop and just say they found it.

Update: February 8, 2017

Perhaps my favorite line of text I wrote but don’t remember writing: “The meaning of life might be muffins. When we die, we may turn into shoes.”

Either one of those sentences would make for a great book title.