Surely you set them in slippery places; you cast them down into ruin. How they are brought into desolation in a moment, utterly consumed with terrors! Psalm 73:18-19 Hebrew World translation
Surely – What do you know for sure? What is it that absolutely cannot be doubted? That is a question that has plagued the Western Greek-based paradigm for 2500 years. That answer from the Greek worldview is this: “Nothing.” If we had the time, I would take you through the progressive devolution of Western thinking and show you that the quest for certainty ends in despair and utter relativism. In fact, unless you realize that this slippery slope must end in epistemological anarchy, you won’t understand why today’s Western society is in such a mess. It isn’t moral corruption. It isn’t failed economics. It isn’t lack of leadership. It is the nightmare of not knowing anything for sure. By the way, Islam does not share this hopelessness. Consequently, Islam moves ahead on a completely different paradigm about what is true. Since the West doesn’t share this paradigm, the Western view of the world is not simply incompatible with Islam; it is incomprehensible to Islam. The idea of a negotiated peace between the West and Islam is myopically imbecilic. Hebraic thinking is much closer to Islam than the West will ever be.
The opening word of Asaph’s verse is ‘ak. This particle (the very smallest meaningful part of a language) covers such a wide range of uses and expressions that a translator must determine by context how it should be expressed. Quite often, it is simply not translated at all. In this verse, ‘ak is used like an exclamation point. It underlines the thought. Asaph doesn’t merely say that the wicked are on a slippery slope. He says that God has absolutely put them there!
Now we can see the difference between the Greek worldview and the Hebrew worldview. From Asaph’s perspective, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever because God has said so. From the perspective of the West, we would ask, “How does Asaph know this is true?” We want evidence. Asaph is epistemologically content with revelation. That’s the big difference (put as ‘ak before this sentence). Because the Western closed universe of cause and effect has eliminated revelation as a legitimate form of knowledge, the West has no assurances about anything. Even the history of science shows us that one theory is replaced by another, one explanation gives way to another. Everything is constantly changing. But Asaph doesn’t share this closed universe point of view. God reveals truth from outside. To ask, “How do I know?” is to disclose your commitment to the wrong paradigm. How did Hosea know that the word of the Lord became in him? How did Yeshua know that He was the Son? How do you and I know that the Spirit is involved in our lives? Cause and effect explanations fail. There is knowing that goes beyond their limitations.
Hebrew thinking is a world of revelation, not a world of gathering information. Islam shares this same epistemological view, as do most of the ancient near-Eastern cultures. Some questions simply aren’t asked in these worldviews because the questions don’t make any sense. One of those questions is, “How do I know God said so?” Asaph answers the only way he can. ‘ak.
What kind of questions are you asking? Are they the questions asked in a paradigm that is already bankrupt? Or are they questions that are underlined with ‘ak?
Topical Index: surely, ‘ak, epistemology, Islam, closed universe, Psalm 73:18-19