For purposes of this discussion, I would like to propose the following three assumptions:
1. That there is a God (to those who are fully convinced that there is no God, I would respectfully ask that this discussion not be for debating that issue).
2. That God is inscrutable (therefore man, on his own, cannot know God).
3. That God has revealed himself to man (therefore, if man chooses to cut himself off from God's revelation of himself, man cannot know God).
Assuming these 3 assumptions are true, in what way or ways do you think God has revealed himself to man? And, in the final analysis, how do they answer life's greatest question ... Who is God?
Requiring #1 - I understand... but if #2 is true, then we cannot answer your question. It is precluded entirely by the required assumption.
It is by definition.
Inscrutable = impossible to understand, impenetrable.
Even if god "reveals himself to man" - he remains, by definition, impossible to understand. We can try to understand revelation, but God himself, remains inscrutable. Man cannot know god. We can, at best, interpret what he has chosen to show us.
In totality, quite true. In what he chooses to reveal of himself, comprehensible.
So as a hypothetical - let's say you meet a man, who has every appearance of being a doctor. Knows the lingo, dresses like one, has credentials on the wall, etc.
This man is actually an actor playing a doctor. But you've only seen what he has chosen to reveal.
Can you say you know anything about this man, other than that he can play a relatively convincing doctor? Is that a useful, or even remotely accurate picture of the nature of this man?
Appropriate, given that many doctors have a god-complex.
And from this it only gets worse. To get anywhere you have to start accept a host of other assumptions and assertions.
1. That what God has chosen to reveal is not deception. (requiring further assumptions about what we *believe* the nature of God to be).
2. That what has been revealed has been accurately and completely recorded.
2a. That personal revelation is actually god, and not delusion, or mistaken information (or poorly interpreted) - the unreliability of first person experiences being well documented.
3. That what has been revealed is enough information to realistically know much about God.
4. That only one set of revelations (e.g. the Christian ones, not the Muslim ones, or the Hindu ones) is true - or you get into contradictory conceptions.
5. That the one you know, is the true one.
No, I do not think you can say anyone knows anything at all about God, based on "what has been revealed." Not without a whole host as assumptions beyond the 3 you list as prerequisite.
The exercise is to assume all three assumptions are true, and to build from there. Not play devil's advocate to attempt to prove they can't be true.
Herb - I am granting you all three - the above problems exist and show that you cannot know even the smallest things about god, even with ALL your assumptions in place. Both by definition in your provided assumptions, and as a practical matter from those things which follow from them.
There is no devil's advocate here. I'm playing by YOUR rules.
Balderdash! Clearly only 52 angels can dance on a pinhead.
Liam, Herb has a point here. Devil's advocate may be excessively literal, but consider that when you say you must assume your further points, you make no attempt to say whether they can be proven or not. You seem to assume they cannot, or else why focus on the assumption rather than attempt to flesh out the proof or the relation of the assumption to any specific case? -- To start from where you seem to start, you would have to pick up the Bible just like any other book & do your damnedest to find out what its author meant to say. Whether there are many authors or one, whether human or divine will make no difference to you, unless you could possibly prove that the author or authors or later editors were incompetent. But that does not seem possible without proving that you've understood what they meant & that it's not true. There is only so much avoiding the issue that you could possibly do. At some point, you are either incompetent as an interpreter, which should hold with the Bible as much as with Shakespeare or anyone else worth reading, or you begin to test your set of further assumptions by seeing whether the author agrees with you or not, whether he can satisfy you as to your queries, &c.