Is ‘knowledge’ good or evil?

The following question was asked by an ALPHA Participant, in the context of the video “How Can I Resist Evil?” Please feel free to add your own thoughts/comments.

Is all knowledge either good or evil, or is knowledge exempt from such classification? ie general knowledge, knowledge gained from scientific research, knowledge of historical events, etc. Also, realizing that what we do with knowledge can be either good or evil, does this reflect on the knowledge itself? Can knowledge exist in a vacuum?


  1. Your question and comments re knowledge take me back to Philosophy 101 many years ago. Epistemology is a core part of any philosophical discussion of life and reality. As I recall it started with Plato who believed in an ideal, abstact, objective and absolute body of knowledge that we can understand only in part through a rational process. Later philosophers like Hume thought knowledge was entirely empirical and still other like Kant tried to combine the absolute and relative aproaches in his theory of knowledge. Many thinkers have also considered the morality of knowledge. Others have a more pragmatic view of knowlege… if it works to explain reality it must be true. I guess my point is that over the centuries philosophers have differed greatly on what is true . No doubt there is some truth in all their reflections.
    It reminds me of the text in 1Cor 13:12 “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known” Someday the discussion of Pilate’s famous question at Jesus trial.. “What is truth” will indeed be academic. When I see God He will reveal in full what Jesus meant when He said that He was the TRUTH, the way and the life.

  2. Here are some initial thoughts:

    (1) There are huge philosophical debates about the definition of knowledge. My thoughts are of an amateur.

    (2) By knowledge I understand (a) objective reality, the truth of what is, (b) perceived reality, the truth as we see it, but not all that it is, and (c) the ability to know something, the act of knowing, which is something that we do as finite, sinful beings.

    (2) There is objective reality (ie a telephone is ringing on television) and perceived reality (ie, I think it is the telephone in my house ringing, and I run to answer it). Objective reality is what it is, but perceived reality is limited or shaped by the condition of the perceiver.

    (3) Objective reality is so vast, so complex, that we cannot fully grasp it all. We are always limited in our perception/understanding of it. This ought to keep us humble.

    (4) Objective reality is knowable, we an learn and study and grow closer to a full perception of objective reality, though never complete.

    (5) Perceived reality is limited by, shaped by and distorted by the presuppositions or beliefs that the person carries. Their worldview (belief system) will affect the way they interpret facts as they perceive them. An atheist will interpret a “miracle” as a non-miraculous event, a religious person will interpret it as a divine act. But please note this, there is only one true answer, one true objective reality. If God did it, then the atheist is wrong. If God didn’t do it (or if there is no God), then the religious person is wrong. Believing something does not make it true.

    (6) Sin (the inclination of the heart to deny God, serve the self, twist things in one’s own favour) does affect how we interpret objective reality. Our ability to know (the act of knowing) is a gift from God, but it is distorted by our sinful inclinations and desires.

    (7) Knowledge (defined as our perception of objective reality) is limited by our finite existence and distorted by our sinful nature, but it is not totally useless or wrong, or evil. There is truth in all our perceptions, but there is also untruth. The challenge is to remain humble, open to our own biases, open to other viewpoints and perspectives.

    (8) This is not relativism, but a humble acknowledgment of objective reality and our own limited comprehension of it. There is absolute truth, we’re just not absolutely sure that we know it correctly.

    (9) There is truth in what evolutionists say, and truth in what creationists say. Those who take an EITHER-OR position miss out on the truth in the other perspective. Those who deny their own biases are blind to how they adjust and interpret the facts to suit their own beliefs. In this case, there is only one OBJECTIVE REALITY, but there are many PERCEIVED REALITIES. Humility and openness to all possibilities, as well as to our own limitations and biases, is essential for gaining a better grasp of the truth. I think creationists are wrong for dismissing all that evolutionists say, and evolutionists are wrong for dismissing all that creationists say.

    (10) The biggest bias that distorts knowledge of objective reality is our relationship to God. If we deny God, limit God, or treat God as less than He is, then our interpretation of objective reality will be affected. Every person has a worldview, a lens through which they observe reality. If that lens is distorted, then what they see will be affected.

    (11) I prefer to speak of knowledge as limited or distorted, as truer or less true, but not as good or evil. Our hearts are evil (ie inclined away from God, sinful, selfish, etc.) and this affects our ability to know, to interpret, to perceive reality. We know what we know based on the facts as we see them and interpret them. Our finiteness and our sinful nature affect our ability to know, resulting in truer or less true knowledge.

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