You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

‘You only know what you know. You don’t know what you don’t know’

That’s a phrase that I’ve always told myself during exam revision – it’s sort of a warning to myself: Don’t assume you remember everything that you’ve just learned. Read through your notes again and see if there was something you don’t remember or know.

And yet, when I thought about it the other day, I realised that it strongly reflected the limitations and parochial nature of the human mind.

For example, have you heard of the ‘god particle’?

If you have, it’s because you are aware of it. And if you don’t know about it … it’s because you don’t know about it.


In the same way, I think this phrase can be applied to religion and to man’s spiritual longing.

Forgive for my lack of extensive knowledge, but if we look at the primitive tribes that still exist or until recently, had existed, we notice that many of them have a religion. Whether it be witchcraft, the gods of nature, or the manifestation of god in one of their people – there is a spiritual aspect.

Of course, they’ve got the wrong religion, but it does not preclude the fact that in tribes with no contact with the bigger world and lack knowledge of the rest of the world, there is still a longing for a god.

So I asked myself: What about the phrase ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’?

Surely, if we apply this idea to such circumstances, then the fact that people have created a religion and desire to reach out to the spiritual realm strongly indicates that deep inside us humans, there is an inherent ‘GPA’ to reconnect with a God that we once knew, or were meant to know.

People believe in a spiritual realm because we know something about it. If we never knew about a higher being, we would not have thought of such an idea.

People want to reconnect with a God, that somewhere inside of them, they believed in.

I find it odd that if there was no god in the world to begin with, that humans would have suddenly thought of the idea of a higher being. In this respect, we discover religion because somewhere in our hearts, minds and souls, we knew there was one.

‘You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.’
St Augustine’s Confessions


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