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knowledge

Humans gain knowledge through experience, for example, listening to Mozart or Dave Matthews over and over again and creating the form of Dave or Mozart in our heads. So we need stuff and experience to create knowledge. And our knowledge is distinct from us; it can come and go, and it is limited, based on time and events. I now have some Italian in my head, but have almost completely forgotton the COBOL and C programming languages I once knew. So again, humans are caught in space-time, having beginnings and middles and endings, and having our knowledge limited by our particular circumstances.

But guess what, God's not like that; God doesn't need stuff and experience to gain knowledge or form; after all, he's the one we've named as the mysterious source of all stuff and experience so he could hardly require it. And unlike us, God and his knowledge are one and the same.

Form without words: Think of the great works of Bach or Mozart or of visual art or sculpture, and you have form without words, yet form containing great intellectual content. This may be something like what Aquinas is seeing when he talks about the knowledge of God.

But God's knowledge is not just like him watching reality and following everything that's going on. Aquinas' idea of God's knowledge is much more radical than that. For Aquinas, whatever mystery creates and sustains things in being thinks in a certain way, and because of that thought, voila, we exist. Remember God as form, and maybe all possible forms? By God's thinking about form, the universe exists and some out of all possible forms exist within it. In other words, God thinks, therefore I am. We are all some of God's neurons, firing away; we are God at play in space-time.

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"Not because they are does God know all creatures ... but they are because He knows them."
Augustine, De Trinitate, 15.13.

And Aquinas agrees:
"The knowledge of the human intellect is in a manner caused by things ... But the divine intellect through its knowledge is the cause of things."
(SG 1.61.7)

 
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