Early data retention: how the ancients initiated information technology

Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/g/g-i-n-om-s-k-om.html

The wisdom of data retention

— How the ancients initiated information technology —

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

γινωσκω  γνωριζω

The verb γινωσκω (ginosko) means to know. It means to have and handle data in one's mind, or — when used in perfect forms: John 8:55, 2 Corinthians 5:16 — to come to know or have begun to know; to learn or even (when expanded as αναγινωσκω, anaginosko, see below) simply to read (Matthew 12:3).

Our verb is also used in the sense of "knowing" a man — that is: potentially bearing the fruits of a man's will (John 1:13) — as it is rather spectacularly used by Mary (Luke 1:34), who of course bore the Word in the flesh. This is not some cute coincidence but a deliberate usage of our verb. The same usage occurs when its Hebrew counterpart ידע (yada'), meaning to know, is used to explain what Adam did to Eve for her to come up with Cain (Genesis 4:1).

The verb γινωσκω (ginosko), meaning to know, is used 222 times in the New Testament; see full concordance. The adjacent verb γνωριζω (gnorizo) means to make known, that is: to put data in someone else's mind. This verb is used 24 times in the New Testament (see below).

Some commentators try to link these verbs to some special kind of knowledge (intuitive, experiential, intellectual), but even if such distinctions exist, they are not expressed by these verbs.

Knowledge: science and religion

We humans call ourselves with some pride Homo sapiens, after the verb sapio, meaning to taste or have taste and thus to have the ability to discern between that which is tasty (i.e. nutritious) and that which isn't (Genesis 2:16-17). But although the acquisition of knowledge may come natural to us moderns, the pursuit of knowledge as a conscious collective objective is a relatively late invention (Genesis 4:26).

People, like animals, initially counted on their physical power (Psalm 73:22, Ecclesiastes 3:18, 2 Peter 2:12, Jude 1:10) and strength in numbers (Psalm 20:7, 33:17, 2 Samuel 24), and when some proto-nerds began to see the potential benefit of connecting certain sounds to certain objects or actions, they first had to convince their tribe members of the advantages of convention itself. Even something as universally accepted as language was once a novelty, and while anatomically complete ancient humans were living their happy and fulfilled lives, few of them would have imagined that their intuitive yawps and grunts could be refined into implements of data retention. When formal language tried to emerge on the efforts of a few visionaries, it was doubtlessly met with opposition from conservatives and traditionalists, who insisted that the old ways were better and all that new stuff would surely cause cerebral flatulence.

Without a shared language, it's nearly impossible to tell whether another creature is smart — hence the recent consternation among scientists who at long last discovered that creatures such as dolphins and elephants have theory of mind, just like humans, and are therefore quite "sapient." Better yet: without a conscious sense of self and thus others, creatures cannot distinguish between themselves and the rest of the group, and even though an intelligent observer may see separate bacteria, ants or penguins, the bacteria, ants and penguins only see the collective. Prior to speech, mankind could have had no clue how different from other creatures man could be, or whether an encountered Denisovan or Neanderthal was a sure foe or potential friend (see for more on this our article on the adjective αγιος (hagios), meaning holy).

The earliest appreciators of knowledge faced the same problem as the earliest linguists: how to convince the populace at large of the vast peace-making benefits of liberally collecting and thus freely sharing information about the natural world (1 Kings 4:33-34, 1 Thessalonians 5:21). If the general population then was anything like ours today, it saw the world as a hotchpotch of uncontrollable forces and no amount of effort other than wielding clubs at anything big and hairy to make any sense.

Only when proto-nerds were able to produce faster spears and hotter fires and so to demonstrate that knowledge equaled power and thus prosperity — which first required convincing people of a correlation between intent and effect, which is still difficult today — began knowledge to be appreciated. People who had knowledge were probably initially domineered by people who had physical power, but when knowledge began to be recognized as something more potent than strength or even wealth, people who had knowledge rose in social status. Knowledge became a commodity, like gold or jewelry, which in turn meant that it could both be hoarded and counterfeited. Both the secret and the lie were invented, and along came a whole new form of tyranny.

Like any currency, knowledge can be converted into a kind of fiat currency. Fiat currency is a unit of agreed upon value (a piece of paper that reads words like "I owe you 10 apples" or "angels will protect you") without an intrinsic value (actual apples or actual protection). As long as currency is redeemable for the value it represents and forgeries can be curtailed, the economy is pretty safe. But when currency is disconnected from actual value, as is the case with modern money and its forgone gold standard, it's no longer clear what actual value the currency represents simply because not all an economy's value is represented in its money.

Such dissociated fiat currency has to be "believed" in all religious meaning of the word, and subsequently controlled by a central institution (a bank or church) which can issue more of it at will. Since in such an economy such institutions are not limited by some actually limited amount of true wealth (gold in the vault, food on the table) fiat currency tends to drift increasingly further away from the tangible value it originally was designed to represent. Fiat wisdom, subsequently allows for speculative bubbles (crazy sects), rampant inflation (hence the thriving Christian Industrial Complex), and economies peopled by revered experts in fields that don't relate to the substantial world (hence the many esotericisms).

Information technology

The various economies of fiat wisdom are as useful as the various economies of fiat currency — all modern natural human languages are in essence based on fiat currencies, and they as well as religions offer real and tangible economy among people who accept the same currency/language/religion (Acts 19:25) — but we've entered an era in which people have begun to express a genuine thirst for a global economy based on actual value (Revelation 21:22).

The many faces of true wealth come down to health, security and community and the many faces of false knowledge can corrupt an economy as much as fool's gold. Today a global movement is gaining momentum that demands for wisdom to demonstrate to have intrinsic rather than fiat value (Luke 7:35; Revelation 6:9-11). The going sentiment is that if some doctrine, term, phrase, spell or ritual is not consistently and unambiguously redeemable for any real world phenomenon (apples, atoms, flagella, anything at all), it's most likely a piece of runaway make-believe and ultimately a complete waste of time (Matthew 24:23).

The famous tale of Archimedes in the tub commemorates how difficult it is to discern between true gold and false gold, which in turn discusses how difficult it is to discern between true knowledge and a slick fib. A gold crown may conveniently be submerged in water, but a substance to test a "crown of knowledge" is hard to come by.

The rightful veneration of knowledge necessitated tools to mine it, to purify it, to store it and to retrieve it. It was the birth of information technology. The invention of script allowed the perpetual storage of knowledge in a medium other than a perishable human brain, which made David triumphantly cry out that the "Holy One" [i.e. the Word] would not "see decay" (Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:7). But even prior to this amazing invention of data retention, a convention had to be wrought that governed the way observations were harvested for data, and data was transformed into knowledge.

Data conversion and encryption

How knowledge gets to be in one's brain is indeed a matter of some dispute, and the Bible submits that knowledge comes with a "key" or a method of acquiring, storing and retrieving it (Luke 11:52, 24:45, and perhaps Matthew 16:19 and Revelation 3:7 too). Without this key the data is inaccessible or becomes distorted — if one doesn't know that a Mercator's map is a two dimensional projection of a three dimensional world, one may erroneously arrive at the conclusion that Mercator's maps describe a two dimensional world.

Over the centuries, similar handling of data-storage without the proper key has led people to believe in the existence of swords caught in stone (from accounts that discuss metallurgy), fire-breathing gold-hoarding dragons (the lucrative skills and technology of rival economies), lethal bites of fruits of knowledge (from discussions on the detrimental misappropriation of otherwise perfect data), hefty books of ancient spells (some researcher's notebook), and of course organizations such as the Men in Black and MACUSA (which in reality are not centralized or even governed in the conventional sense).

In our modern world, several of these "keys" are proposed and handled. A much favored one is: whoever yells the loudest is right. Another one is: whoever has the most money is right. Yet another is: I think so, hence it's true. And its cousin: I don't understand it, so it must be stupid.

Strictly speaking, only time can tell which is the best one (1 Samuel 24:12, Jude 1:9), but here at Abarim Publications we happen to prefer the "scientific method". This particular "key" insists that knowledge should (a) be falsifiable, and (b) come from verifiable observations and rational deduction.

The core tenet of falsifiability excludes statements that can't be tested or shown to be wrong. Proving a statement either right or wrong yields valuable information, but a statement that can neither be shown to be true nor false is "not even wrong." This doesn't make the statement "bad", it just excludes it from scientific consideration.

Statements that are "not even wrong" belong in the art department, which in itself is a wonderful and most necessary department since human experience is like a complex number in which "real" and "imaginary" components jointly describe the whole of reality much more complete than either element could have. Things go wrong when the laws that govern either of these elements are allowed to bear on the other.

The second part of the scientific method dictates that all observations should be explained by an invisible system that governs the visible goings on, and which in turn should be useable to predict the outcome of further experiments done by anyone anywhere.

Of wizards, muggles and Gnostics

A person who makes his or her living from the wonderful world of knowledge may be called:

  • Scientist — from the same Proto-Indo-European root as the Greek verb σχιζω (schizo), meaning to separate or discern (comparable to the Hebrew verb בין, bin, meaning to discern or understand);
  • Mathematician — from the Greek verb μανθανω (manthano), meaning to learn, and specifically the derived noun μαθημα (mathema), meaning a lesson. The Biblical word commonly translated with "disciple" is the closely related noun μαθητης (mathetes);
  • Scholar — from the Greek word σχολη (schole), meaning rest or freedom from manual labor in order to pursue learning (Genesis 5:29, Matthew 11:28). Modern science is an outgrowth of Scholasticism (to discuss things together; Isaiah 1:18), which was a reaction to Monasticism (to contemplate things alone; Genesis 2:18);
  • Professor — from the Latin profiteor, meaning to declare publicly or to testify (Proverbs 1:20);
  • Engineer — from the Latin ingeniosus, meaning full of genius (Isaiah 11:2);
  • Doctor — from the Latin verb doceo, meaning to be learned, to teach or inform;
  • Wizard — from the adjective "wise" (which in turn comes from the same ancient root weid as the words wit and vision and even the word druid, which literally means "tree-wit") plus the suffix "-ard" (meaning "natured" or "who does to excess" in words such as coward, drunkard, etc.).
  • Magician — from the Avestan (Persian) word magauno, which in turn probably denotes a Median tribe with similar duties as the Levites in Israel, namely to preserve and develop wisdom.

Folks who lack the knack — that is: people who are cognitively unable to muster the mental discipline to think purely scientific; lovingly dubbed "muggles" by J. K. Rowling, who is herself a child of accomplished wizards — are either blissfully unaware of the world wizards create and maintain, or else are so baffled by it that they confuse it for something supernatural. Quite the opposite is true, of course, since nothing supernatural can be perceived by natural means (such as eyes and ears) and for all practical purposes can be said to not exist.

Belief in the supernatural requires ignorance of the natural. That in turn starts with a disrespect for the natural and subsequently for those who love, respect and cherish knowledge of the natural (1 Kings 19:10, Matthew 23:37, see Romans 1:20 in relation to Deuteronomy 6:5). Prosperity in particular may not always be mankind's best friend, and especially in societies where the government, its police and justice system are dominated by muggles, wizards are prudent to lay low and wait for the inevitable collapse (Isaiah 17:7). Many take refuge in entertainment; hence the whole rabbit-out-of-the-hat and pick-a-card thing. The muggles' world may be on fire and their children may be dying of sheer want, but the muggle will rather pay millions for a few laughs than fund the wisdom he doesn't understand (Isaiah 1:3, Ezekiel 16:22).

Muggles are commonly prone to think that science is the "pursuit of knowledge," and although most wizards let them, it really isn't. Science increases mental entropy, and is the mental sphere's self-similar equivalent of the material world's second law of thermodynamics (Isaiah 40:4-5, 11:9). In muggle terms: science is the pursuit of convention. Scientists work to concur, to agree on things, to describe reality in such a way that everybody recognizes the same thing in the same description. This same wizardly quest for convention gave us once language, which allowed for even wider convention, which led to the global sharing of technologies, which led to the technological boom of the last few dozen millennia.

Truth is an elusive thing, but the hallowed principle of falsifiability suggests that when nobody notices something disagreeable, then that disagreeable thing does not exist for practical purposes. In other words, truth can be defined as that which everybody can willingly and wholeheartedly agree on, not a doctrinal thing but a synchronicity thing. So if you want to find the truth (John 14:6), simply find a way to agree with everybody (Mark 12:31). That's what science is all about.

Don't sell the bike shop, Orville

Since the word "scientist" has a venerable and authoritative ring to it, all kinds of shadowy movements have hijacked it and applied it to their own devices. Christian Science and Scientology, for instance, are movements that operate on methods other than the scientific method, but nevertheless claim to have knowledge. Gullibles who lack the knack easily fall for these movements, sometimes to their heart-breaking detriment. A modern society may cherish these "Fantastic Beasts" as part of man's cultural heritage, provided it's known "Where To Find Them," they are not bred for commercial purposes or released upon the general public (with the exception, of course, of "Frank from Arizona," who is momentarily forced to lodge with the rest of the "cargo cults").

Rejecting Aristotle's empiricism (intrinsic wealth) and riding the wave of Plato's speculative philosophies (fiat wealth), in the second century AD a similarly shadowy group began to apply our verb γινωσκω (ginosko) to themselves and their obtuse conviction that all matter is evil, and all things worthy of man's attention strictly immaterial. Since light, sound and even brain activity depend on material processes, true Gnostics allow themselves very little wiggle room and although fans of this bizarre stance abound until today, Gnostics are necessarily fantastically ignorant about the world they are part of.

Gnosticism in its many guises can only flourish in a society that cares for its feeble minded, and people can succumb to the lures of it only when their food, health care, and urban infrastructure are provided for by people that faithfully operate by means of the scientific method. Ancient people who lived much closer to nature and whose lives depended on the soundness of their information had very little use for predictions that didn't pan out (Proverbs 12:11, 28:19), and the peddlers of such misinformation were duly executed (Deuteronomy 18:20-22, 1 Kings 18:40).

The Biblical understanding of knowledge is not mere data, but verified or verifiable data. No single witness could testify about anything (Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 1 Corinthians 14:27-29, 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19, Hebrews 10:28) and even Jesus declared that he would be there where two or three gathered in his name (Matthew 18:19-20, also see Revelation 11:3). Paul warned Timothy to be on his guard against what is "falsely called knowledge" (1 Timothy 6:20), which was probably some fabricated nonsense that was first accepted because it sounded nifty, not because it could be verified. It may very well have been an early form of Gnosticism.

Letting it fly

A favored party trick involves the levitating of massive objects. Unaided levitation has never been produced in a controlled laboratory setting but still myriads of muggles believe that it can be done and that folks like witches, shamans and yogis routinely float about and make things rise at their mere good humor.

An object that doesn't levitate sits where it does by virtue of gravity. Gravity is caused by mass and the object sticks to the earth because the object and the earth sit in each other's gravity funnel, like a small dimple at the edge of a huge crater. It's thus not so that the earth pulls at the victimized object but the object and the earth pull at each other with equal surrender.

The mass that creates the gravity that keeps things huddled together is energy that is polarized into atomic particles. That means that if we want to turn an object's gravity off (to stop it from producing gravity and from being susceptible to gravity) we have to eliminate the atoms it's made from. But that means that the object itself will disappear!

We know since Einstein that gravity is not something that merely emanates from an object like the smell of a flower but that it is the object's very intrinsic nature itself. Gravity is to a massive object what wet is to water and awareness is to a human mind. Take away gravity and the object will cease to be. In a gravitational field, mass will always translate to weight, and if weight is not counteracted, massive objects will always move toward each other.

When facts become stable, they last for ever

Quite contrary to Gnosticism's cardinal tenet, the material universe is perfectly righteous and operates by virtue of perfect consistency. There exists no cheating or deception of any kind in the material universe, and you can bet your life that no material object will ever violate any of the laws that make the universe tick — hence scientists' firm trust in the conservation of energy, momentum, baryon number and so on. Hence also the material universe's divine ability to spawn life. The biosphere, having some righteous qualities still remaining, in turn has brought about the super-life forms we call colonies and cultures.

If a particle, object or living being would display some never before observed behavior, then that behavior is subsequently natural, and can be measured, studied and ultimately mastered. Should, by some twist of divine fate, the laws of physics be suspended, even for the tiniest fraction of a second, the entire universe will cease to exists — or more specifically: the observer for whom the suspension of natural law is true, must in effect be removed from the universe in which this suspension is not true; which is precisely what happens in the singularity of a black hole (Matthew 5:18, 24:35).

You can't turn off an object's gravity and expect it to keep existing in some state of cheerful levitation, and you also can't turn off nature's laws and expect it to keep existing in some cheerful lawless way. Nature does not simply exist on its own and is somehow forced to obey the separate laws of nature; the laws of nature are the intrinsic qualities that define nature and which nature confirms by sheer existing — natural law is what brings nature about and what keeps nature together (Colossians 1:16-17).

Time depends on discrete differentiations in data retention, which in turn depends on particle interaction, and is thus a function of the universe and not the other way around. The universe did not begin at a point in time, so as to require a First Cause, but time began at a point in the universe, namely at matter-radiation decoupling, when particles became stable. The "Cause" of the universe stands perpendicularly on the axis of its temporal dimension, and is as much defined by its final form as its origin and the part in between.

Time is on our side (yes it is)

We know since Einstein that time is not the axis of progression of the universe (because there are local pockets of eternity all over the place). The real axis of progression is complexity. God, therefore, is not merely the proto-energetic, zero-entropic First Cause that brought about the Big Bang that in turn has propelled the universe ever since; God is also the super-conscious, entropic transfinity that tows us forth from the other end (this is called an attractor). And God is the delta of natural law that perpetually governs the part between these extremes; the alpha and omega, if you will (1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 22:13).

Time is like a highway that started as a path that started as a track. The beginning of that highway is not the first point of the highway but a deer lumbering through the wilderness. The universe didn't start at the Big Bang in the temporal sense; the singularity is just one of its two extremes on the stage of complexity. Wisdom, likewise, does not begin with the first fact absorbed but with an all-encompassing child-like attitude of curiosity and awe within which all facts will eventually settle (Psalm 111:10, Matthew 6:33, Luke 2:52).

The universe is the visible manifestation of an invisible consistency (Hebrews 1:2-3), and it is the emulation of that invisible consistency that science is after (Leviticus 11:44, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1). Nothing that is not a manifestation of that underlying consistency can be part of the universe after the point of material stability (John 14:20), which is why all belief in all falsehood must eventually decay (1 Corinthians 6:2). Despite the raging of the great sea, a small breach in symmetry yields dry land. Despite the cosmic war between red and black, the little green zero will always let the house win (Psalm 118:22).

Reliable with little, reliable with much

The verb γινωσκω (ginosko), meaning to know, not merely describes the having of knowledge, it also describes the economy of information; how data is handled, the operating system of the mind, so to speak. That's how Paul could talk about "knowing" the love of Christ that surpasses all "knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). In Christ are contained all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3) but the "love of Christ" serves as the operating system that allows the management of what is known, that gives syntax and meaning and an ability to mine more knowledge from existing knowledge rather than having to make additional observations (Daniel 12:4).

The love of Christ makes the brain work in precisely the same way as the universe works: with an ever increasing entropy and perfect consistency. A mind that operates on this particular operating system is righteous, irrespective of the amount of knowledge it contains. A mind that doesn't operate on this operating system is ultimately incompatible with all other minds, and must eventually decompile (1 Corinthians 8:2-3). The love of Christ is what the universe operates on, and what the unified minds of man operate on.

Knowledge itself, however, might be a tad overrated. All the data that determines the qualities of natural elements is stored in atomic nuclei, and there are not too many kinds of those (a little over a hundred). It's electrons and virtual photons that bind those hundred different kinds of atoms into the unimaginably vast diversity of molecules and objects that together make the world we live in and are part of. The book of nature operates on an alphabet of atoms, and the great human library of knowledge will doubtlessly one day be found to consists of one too: a small array of indivisible principles that together describe everything there is (John 21:25).

A city coming out of heaven

Knowledge can be acquired either via direct observation, scientific contemplation or persuasion. The verb for the latter is πειθω (peitho), from which comes the noun πιστις (pistis), which is the New Testament's word for faith. Faith, therefore, is not a forced fidelity to some religious system but logically deduced relevant and practical information. Paul's famous definition of faith sums up the crucial elements of the scientific method: faith provides an intimate understanding of both the unseen and the foreseen (Hebrews 11:1).

Note the striking similarity between our verb γινωσκω (ginosko), meaning to know, and the verb γινομαι (ginomai), meaning to be or begin to be (hence English words such as gene, generation and even genius). Since the introduction of formal information theory we know that information is energy and convention increases entropy. This explains evolution (rather than survival of the fittest) and it also means that knowledge is substantial; it's a real thing. A bit of knowledge is as real as a brick. It fits in a wall. It can build a house, and houses like that can form a whole city (Ephesians 2:21, 1 Peter 2:5, Revelation 21:2).

It has been shown that language (which in essence is convention) is a key ingredient of conscious thought, and knowledge strongly determines people's identity, what they choose to deal with and how they live their lives. Our cities too are not merely bricks and cement, because our societies mostly consist of objects and dynamics that need to be understood before they attain their essence. Our beloved fellow citizens of the canine, avian or rodent variety simply don't get it, which is why they cross streets without looking and never ring door bells, pay at registers or sit on chairs and such.

The identities we humans render things like Saturdays, flea collars and veterinarians simply don't cross dog, bird or mouse minds, even though they benefit greatly from these things and are unsurpassable experts in their own worlds. Muggles too may be experts in worlds that wizards are only theoretically aware of, while at the same time not equipped to fathom the blessings of scientific rigor. It's probably up to wizards to demonstrate why muggles would do well to let their wizards do the driving, while wizards in turn should never demand that the muggles understand what driving entails (1 Corinthians 2:9, Matthew 5:22).

Captain, I believe I speak for everyone here ...

Another persistent folly embraced by Gnostic thinkers is the idea that the laws which govern our human world are artificial and pulled out of thin air. That would make them alien to everybody but the one who made them. This in turn necessitates their continuous scrutiny, expounding and amendment by special experts, and of course a police force equipped with billy clubs and tear gas. It would also mean that anyone can make rules up, and that they require very honorable people to rise above the plebeian rest.

Wizards, on the other hand, know that humans are natural and that the law that governs them in their free state is natural too. In fact, this law is intimately woven into the fabric of our own existence (Deuteronomy 30:14, Jeremiah 31:33, Romans 2:15) and every child is familiar with it (Matthew 11:25, 18:3). In our modern age we see that while our world gravitates more and more toward convention, it also becomes more and more playful. Grownups increasingly experience difficulty to function in a world that's run by pimply nerds, and in which the most complex problems are routinely solved by teenage gamers. Elders used to be venerated for their accumulated wisdom; now our elders require special courses on smart phones and online banking.

Rules that thwart and choke are hard to keep and must ultimately disintegrate. Natural laws don't disintegrate but are wholeheartedly embraced and confirmed by everybody given the chance (Matthew 11:29). Freedom is the only thing that everybody agrees on and scientists are liberators in the full Messianic and Caesarean sense of the word. People who don't respect the eternal supremacy of natural law, and surmise that anybody clever enough has the right to draft law, run the serious risk of being swallowed up by the naturally evolving earth (see the story of Korah).

Also sprach der Übermensch

Yet another major flaw of Gnosticism is the idea that there are higher and lower forms of life and higher and lower forms of thinking. This idea forgets that all forms of biological life and all systems of thought on earth have evolved equally long, and that both the biosphere and the mental sphere are closed ecosystems in which every element requires the whole economy to exist (for more on this, see our article on the World-Mind hypothesis).

The measure of specialization within an ecosystem depends wholly on its diversity. That means that humanity's celebrated brain could not have been brought about without the efforts and considerations of all the other creatures on earth (Genesis 2:19-20). It also means that no religion or system of belief (including Christianity and science) could have come about without all that went before (including alchemy and belief in the ethereal universe), and that no system of thought in its modern form can exist without any of the others (including the gay rights movements and Norwegian Black Metal).

Wizards love their enemies, because the true threat is uniformity. Gnostics abhor their enemies and insist that only they are right. Gnosticism allows itself the ludicrous notion that salvation belongs to an elite few — particularly an elite few that behaves according to a certain code or has all the necessary information. It would mean that someone who is rich enough to ponder the mysteries, read books and consult fellow luminaries, has a greater chance to end up in eternal bliss than the slob who has to slave all day, who is forced to choose between paying the rent and feeding the children, and whose destitution drives him to despair and rage rather than serenity and grapes.

Gnosticism (or philarguria; the "operating system" that comes from financial security instead of knowledge of the natural world — 1 Timothy 6:10) is a comfortably rich man's philosophy, which not only promotes ignorance about the natural world and the universal freedom therein, but also allows the shameless exploitation of one's fellow creatures, and even provides a self-congratulatory golden ticket to a Willy Wonka afterlife. It's the stupidest and most irresponsible attitude one can have, and will not go unpunished (Matthew 19:19, Luke 16:25, 1 John 3:17).

All the families of the earth

The Bible is obviously typically not Gnostic and although the acquisition of knowledge is discussed as the highest good, no economic inequality ever leads to the salvation of the wealthy and the damnation of the destitute. What wizards intimately comprehend and muggles rarely consider is that wizards need muggles as much as muggles need wizards (Revelation 21:24). Just like it's ludicrous to have a favorite body part, there is also no "highest" member of an ecosystem (Romans 2:11, Proverbs 12:10).

Modern humanity depends so heavily on domesticated chickens, sheep, dogs, cows, pigs, camels and horses that it simply does not exist without them. Modern man is a symbiont and differs as much from natural man as the spectrum from dachshund to Great Dane does from the gray wolf. Anatomic humans could not have arisen without all the other animals arising and sculpting and stretching the biosphere (Song of Solomon 2:10-14). No multi-cellular creature can even physically exist without symbiotic clouds of single cellular creatures that live inside it, many of whom wouldn't exist without their multicellular hosts. Not an elite few but the whole of creation awaits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19), and whatever creatures form the biosphere that allows the coming about of these sons of God will join these sons in the next age (Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2, John 14:2).

The natural world organizes itself according to natural principles, and similar natural structures appear in the mental sphere and in the biosphere. The mental equivalents of the likes of T-rexes and brontosaurus are as doomed as their physical predecessors because even without that unfortunate meteor their ecosystems can't sustain them beyond a certain level of complexity. That is why their bloodlines went the way of the top quark. It's how ecosystems are naturally equipped with mechanisms to purify themselves of large, stagnant concentrations of energy and to ever raise their internal entropy (Psalm 12:6, Isaiah 40:4, Malachi 3:3).

When these reptilian giants physically ruled the earth, a small family of tiny mouselike mammals lived fearfully among them. The story of the Bible is about that family, and how they came to thrive. Its story is about all of us and its message has always been for everyone (Genesis 3:20, 12:3, 1 Kings 4:34, Isaiah 40:5, Haggai 2:7, Zechariah 8:23, Luke 2:10, John 12:32, Romans 14:11, Revelation 22:2).

All creatures — whether heavy leptons, dinosaurs, Neanderthals, Romans, Christianity or Facebook — are subjected to the same primary law: if you don't diversify through the pursuit of convention, you'll ultimately inbreed yourself to death (Genesis 1:22). Those that do diversify through convention will bring forth eternal offspring (Genesis 13:15) and live happily ever after (Genesis 1:28).


From our verb γινωσκω (ginosko), to know, come the following derivations:

  • Together with the prefix ανα (ana), meaning on or upon, and thus also "again": the verb αναγινωσκω (anaginosko), meaning to recognize (to re-know). Actual physical recognizing is in the New Testament commonly covered by the verb επιγινωσκω (epiginosko; see below) and our verb αναγινωσκω (anaginosko) is consistently used in the sense of "recognizing" words, that is: to read or recite. Also note the connection with the verb αναγνωριζω (anagnorizo), meaning to make known again (see below). Our verb αναγινωσκω (anaginosko) is used 32 times in the New Testament, ; see full concordance. From this verb comes:
  • The noun γνωμη (gnome), which literally describes a "means of knowing" or "means of making known" and which may denote anything from a secret handshake to a clear statement to ultimately the mental faculty that allows knowledge: intelligence or thought, and hence thoughtful expressions thereof that are designed to make something known (quite literally: a piece of one's mind). Our word may describe an opinion (1 Corinthians 7:25) or resolution (Acts 20:3). It may describe a collective resolve (Revelation 17:13) or state of mind (1 Corinthians 1:10), but always one as publicly announced rather than privately entertained: the devices through which an individual or group is known about. This versatile word occurs 9 times; see full concordance.
    The English language has two words "gnome". One derives from our Greek word and describes a "short pithy statement expressing a general truth, a maxim or aphorism" (says the Oxford). The other "gnome" describes the familiar little chap with pointy red hat, whose homographic name probably came from the Latin genomos or earth-dweller.
  • The noun γνωσις (gnosis), meaning knowledge both in the sense of one's private library of convictions and in the sense of a shared scientific body of established theory. From this word comes the tainted term Gnosticism, the "science" that demands that knowledge can be achieved by concentrating deeply on nothing at all. Modern science is of course the opposite of Gnosticism and dictates that only what can be measured or rationally deduced is that which can be known. Our noun is used 29 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it comes:
    • Together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning not or without: the noun αγνωσια (agnosia), meaning ignorance. In a wisdom tradition as observing as the Jewish one, ignorance was a serious flaw and persisting ignorance a shameful act of infidelity (1 Corinthians 15:34 and 1 Peter 2:15 only).
  • The noun γνωστης (gnostes), meaning a knower; one who knows (Acts 26:3 only).
  • The adjective γνωστος (gnostos), meaning known. This word may describe personal acquaintances (Luke 2:44), someone familiar (John 18:15-16), or a thing known (Acts 1:19, Romans 1:19). This word occurs 15 times, see full concordance, and from it derives:
    • Again together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning not or without: the familiar adjective αγνωστος (agnostos), meaning unknown. This word occurs only once in the New Testament, in the inscription of the altar dedicated TO THE UNKNOWN GOD (Acts 17:23). It's this word that T. H. Huxley transliterated to demonstrate his "agnostic" position, namely that both the existence of the First Cause and the essential nature of things cannot be known. Had Huxley been aware of the nature of time (time is a function of the universe and not the other way around) he would probably have considered the hypothesis of the First Cause unworthy of further effort, and left the term "agnostic" for someone else to coin.
  • Together with the preposition δια (dia), meaning through: the verb διαγινωσκω (diaginosko), meaning to decide by thorough examination (Acts 23:15 and 24:22 only; note the link with the verb διαγνωριζω, diagnorizo, meaning to make known throughout; see below). From this verb comes:
    • The noun διαγνωσις (diagnosis, hence our English word "diagnosis"), meaning a decision by thorough examination (Acts 25:21 only). In the New Testament these word are used only in legal context.
  • Together with the preposition επι (epi), meaning on or upon: the verb επιγινωσκω (epiginosko), meaning to "upon-know" or rather: to recognize. Strikingly parallel with the verb αναγινωσκω (anaginosko; see above), which describes the theoretical recognizing of words — that is: "to read" — our verb επιγινωσκω (epiginosko) emphasizes physical recognizing (Matthew 17:12, Luke 24:16) or the beginning of knowing something or someone: to perceive or look upon (to observe in order to understand the observed) or to meet (in order to get to know better) or to acknowledge or recognize (to see an unfamiliar thing in the realization that it belongs to a familiar category, or to recognize a whole by understanding a part: Matthew 7:16).
    Our verb επιγινωσκω (epiginosko) may also describe a discovering (Acts 17:39) or finding out of something, or reaching some new conclusion or judgment. In 2 Corinthians 1:13-14, Paul uses this verb three times in a row, apparently to express the hope that his readers will recognize the validity of his writing, and that they will study his message from their first introduction to it until their full understanding of it. Paul also uses this word in his famous saying "For now we see secondhand through a lens, but then face to face; now I know [ginosko] in part, but then I will recognize as much as I am recognized" (1 Corinthians 13:12). This verb is used 42 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
    • The noun επιγνωσις (epignosis), meaning a recognition, or initial knowledge. This word is used 20 times; see full concordance.
  • Together with the noun καρδια (kardia), meaning heart: the graceful noun καρδιογνωστης (kardiognostes), meaning heart-knower; one who knows the heart (Acts 1:24 and 15:8 only).
  • Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon: the verb καταγινωσκω (kataginosko), or to "know against" someone, to perceive something negative about someone, to condemn (Galatians 2:11, 1 John 3:20 and 3:21 only). From this verb comes:
    • Once more together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning not or without: the adjective ακαταταγνωστος (akatagnostos), meaning not receptive of someone's negative opinion, un-condemnable (Titus 2:8 only).
  • Together with the preposition προ (pro), meaning before, in front of: the verb προγνινωσκω (proginosko), meaning to know before or earlier. This potent verb is used 5 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it comes:
    • The noun προγνωσις (prognosis), meaning foreknowledge or prognosis (same word). This noun is used twice only, in Acts 2:23 and 1 Peter 1:2.


Probably related in an etymological sense but surely also from the same Proto-Indo-European root "gno", the verb γνωριζω (gnorizo) means to make known, and thus to declare, proclaim or impress upon. It may also be applied to oneself, in which case it means to find out or ascertain (Philippians 1:22). Joined with the prefix of negation "i(n)-", this verb forms the English verb to ignore and the adjective ignorant. Our verb is used 24 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derives:

  • Again together with the prefix ανα (ana), meaning on or upon, and thus also "again": the verb αναγνωριζω (anagnorizo), meaning to make known again (Acts 7:13 only). Note the connection with the verb αναγινωσκω (anaginosko), meaning to read (see above).
  • Again together with the preposition δια (dia), meaning through: the verb διαγνωριζω (diagnorizo), meaning to make known throughout [a region]. This word is used in Luke 2:17 only, and note the connection with the verb διαγινωσκω (diaginosko), meaning to know through and through (see above).