God knows, we learn

Neither science nor evolution progresses in the sense that we approach omniscience or a state of perfection, but only in the sense that we learn from our mistakes. We progress when we make new mistakes, which we later recognize as such when we learn from them. This – and not any measurable decrease of distance between where we are and some final destination – defines the direction in which we are heading. Learning and evolving would not be possible for an omnipotent and omniscient God, whose acts cannot have unintended consequences.

For humans, the attributes of God can only be idealized human attributes. For instance, we take the human experience of knowing, make it absolute and all-encompassing, and call it omniscience. If we didn’t start from human experience, we would have no idea what these attributes could refer to; but with it, we can imagine a kind of knowing that we know to be far beyond human capacity. We arrive at the concept of omnipotence in a similar way.

We make our God in our own image, then idealize the image by saying that God made us in His image. Our theories about the realm of the divine are likewise maps of our mystical journeys in those realms. Moshe Idel (1988, 29) makes this observation about ‘the theoretical element in Kabbalistic literature’:

Being for the most part a topography of the divine realm, this theoretical literature served more as a map than as speculative description. Maps, as we know, are intended to enable a person to fulfill a journey; for the Kabbalists, the mystical experience was such a journey. Though I cannot assert that every ‘theoretical’ work indeed served such a use, this seems to have been the main purpose of the greatest part of this literature.

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