Knowledge: Acquired versus Experienced

Knowledge can be gained in one of two ways: acquisition or experience. If I tell my daughter that the stove is hot and that she ought not to touch it as it will hurt her, she has acquired knowledge. (It remains to be seen what she does with that knowledge.) If she touches the stove and gets burned, she has acquired knowledge through experience.

People can take accumulated knowledge that is gained through either acquisition or experience and also come to know other things (provided that it is built upon accurate information). For example, if my daughter has experienced a hot stove and I tell her that the iron is also hot, she can correctly conclude that she ought not to touch the iron as well.

A question that frequently comes up when discussing the events in the Garden of Eden is why didn’t God want Adam and Eve to know about Good and Evil (See Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-19)? There is an assumption in that question; the assumption is that God didn’t want them to have that knowledge. But perhaps it was that God wanted them to acquire that knowledge rather than experience it first hand. That is, God would teach them and they would accept the knowledge from him rather than finding out by their own personal experience. (As a side note, in the process of their rejecting God as a reliable source of information, they dishonored God and by their actions said that they believed him to be unreliable.)

This topic will be built upon in a later post regarding how we come to know about God.