Too Much Knowledge for Us?

A missionary couple sitting on a beach in West Africa were watching the silvery moon above. “How much does man know about the moon, and how much is there to know?” reflected the husband.

His wife responded: “Imagine that we could observe the earth drifting by like this​—how much knowledge is there already on earth, and how much more is there to learn? And just think! Not only is the earth rotating around the sun but our whole solar system is in motion. This means that we will probably never again be here at this exact point in the universe. In fact, we know our present location only in relation to familiar heavenly bodies. We possess so much knowledge about some things, but in a sense, we don’t even know where we are!”

THOSE thoughts touch on some basic truths. There seems to be so much to learn. Of course, each of us learns new things every day. Regardless of how much we do learn, however, we do not seem to be able to keep up with what we would like to know.

Granted, in addition to the ability to take in new information, the capacity to store knowledge has increased greatly. The collective memory of mankind has taken on immense proportions by means of technology. Computer hard disks now have such large capacities that new mathematical terms had to be coined to describe them. A simple CD-ROM can store a wealth of information; its capacity is described as 680 megabytes or more. A standard DVD can hold almost seven times that much, and some with even greater capacity are becoming available.

Modern man’s means to communicate information are almost beyond our comprehension. Rotary presses run at incredible speeds, turning out newspapers, magazines, and books. For someone using the Internet, endless amounts of information are just a click away. In these and many other ways, dissemination of information is increasing faster than anyone can assimilate it. This quantity of information has sometimes been likened to a sea, being of such proportions that we must learn to swim in it, as it were, but try not to drink it all in. The sheer quantity of it forces us to be selective.

 Another reason to be selective is that much available information is not particularly useful. Indeed, some of it is even undesirable, not worth knowing. Remember that knowledge refers to information​—whether good or bad, positive or negative. To make matters more confusing, some things considered by many to be facts are just not accurate. How often the statements of even esteemed authorities have later proved to be erroneous, or false! Think, for instance, of the city recorder of ancient Ephesus, certainly viewed there as a knowledgeable official. He claimed: “Who really is there of mankind that does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the temple keeper of the great Artemis and of the image that fell from heaven?” (Acts 19:35, 36) Although this seems to have been common knowledge​—even indisputable, many would say—​it was not true that the image had fallen from heaven. With good reason, the Holy Bible warns Christians to guard against that which is “falsely called ‘knowledge.’”​—1 Timothy 6:20.

A compelling reason to be selective about knowledge is that our present life span is so short. Regardless of how old you may be, there are undoubtedly many fields of knowledge that you would like to investigate, but you realize that you will simply not live long enough to do so.

Will this basic problem ever change? Could a field of knowledge be available that will prolong life significantly, even forever? Could such knowledge already exist? If so, will it be made available to all? Will the day come when all knowledge will consist of what we expect​—the truth? The missionary couple mentioned above have found satisfying answers to those questions, and you can too. Please read the next article, which will offer you the prospect of taking in knowledge forever.