Author Topic: Is knowledge good or bad?  (Read 364 times)

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Offline William

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Is knowledge good or bad?
« on: June 13, 2013, 05:08:28 AM »
In the book of Genesis, Eve brought God's initial plans undone when she succumbed to the temptation of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, egged on by a snake.

But last time I was in church (an act of kindness accompanying my frail octogenarian Mum) I heard them say: "Let us pray for scientists, that God will bless them and give them the patience to discover cures for diseases such as cancer and AIDS."

Is knowledge intrinsically good or bad?



First supplementary question:  If knowledge is good, then why didn't we inherit it from Adam and Eve who obviously gained it?  Why do we inherit the original sin (sticky) which is terribly un-useful, but not the knowledge (sadly unsticky) that's clearly useful?  Are we being unfairly punished for possessing the proceeds of crime? We don't have it and didn't dispose of it  :police:  (Is there a lawyer in the house?)

Second supplementary question: If knowledge is good, then how is progressive revelation any good? .... at the cost of suffering, lives, destruction out of ignorance, and gross inefficiency throughout history?
« Last Edit: June 13, 2013, 05:15:43 AM by William »
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Is knowledge good or bad?
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2013, 06:00:39 AM »
Is knowledge intrinsically good or bad? 

Neither, I think.  Knowledge "is".  To me, it's like saying "is having a table intrinsically good or bad" - it may be, or may not be, depending on the circumstances and the use to which it will be put.

I may be the world's foremost authority on Pokemon.  Useless to me when I am shipwrecked alone on a desert island!

That said, in general terms it is better to have more knowledge than less, same as it is generally more useful to own a table than not to - but at the risk of splitting hairs that is an argument over the relative quantity (and quality) of knowledge I posess, not that there is an inherent value to a particular piece of knowledge.
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Offline viocjit

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Re: Is knowledge good or bad?
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2013, 09:32:45 AM »
Knowledge is not good or bad. If you do good with knowledge this is good but if you do bad with knowledge this is bad.
I said a thing very basic but this is maybe more complicated.

Offline One Above All

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Re: Is knowledge good or bad?
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2013, 09:36:02 AM »
I'm with Anfauglir on this one. Knowledge just is. It's how it's used that matters.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Is knowledge good or bad?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2013, 10:14:48 AM »
In the book of Genesis, Eve brought God's initial plans undone when she succumbed to the temptation of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, egged on by a snake.

technically, it was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  So it was not so much about knowledge, but about moral judgment.

Genesis 2:9
Quote
Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil

gen 2:17
Quote
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.

gen 3:5
Quote
for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,[a] knowing good and evil.

gen 3:22
Quote
Then the Lord God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—

bolds mine



To the OP, I think knowledge is bad. We'd all be happier and better off if we had the mental ability of dogs.

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Offline penfold

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Re: Is knowledge good or bad?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2013, 10:17:55 AM »

First supplementary question:  If knowledge is good, then why didn't we inherit it from Adam and Eve who obviously gained it?  Why do we inherit the original sin (sticky) which is terribly un-useful, but not the knowledge (sadly unsticky) that's clearly useful?  Are we being unfairly punished for possessing the proceeds of crime? We don't have it and didn't dispose of it  :police:  (Is there a lawyer in the house?)


The 'standard' Christian interpretation of the fall comes from St Augustine. He interprets knowledge as moral knowledge, in modern terms 'conscience' which we do have (or at least Augustine thinks we do). As for original sin, a soft interpretation is that it only means we have the capacity to sin. There is, in all fairness, a nice coherence here: since the fall we know right from wrong thus we have the capacity to act in a manner which is right or wrong.

However a strong reading of original sin, and probably closer to Augustine's thinking is that it is 'sexually transmitted'. Sin for Augustine is all about sex. He himself had a notoriously wild youth in Rhodes; as a young man he famously wrote "God give me chastity ... just not yet!" He also kept a mistress for 18 years and had a son with her (Ambrose). When he converted to Christinaity (he was a Maniceist before) he dumped this woman even though he was still desperately in love with her. It seems to me that there is a lot of personal psychology going on in his account of sin as primarily sexual. Funny to think that mainstream Christian theology may come from one guy's deep seated self-hatred

I say no need to call a lawyer, we need a therapist.

Is knowledge intrinsically good or bad?

I tend to agree with Anfauglir's pragmatic approach. However it is worth noting that the Chinese philosophy of Taoism asserts very strongly that knowledge is inherently bad as it interferes with the spontaneous in us. A view I must confess a little sympathy with.
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline Mooby

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Re: Is knowledge good or bad?
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2013, 10:02:15 AM »
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