This past year, I began all of my school-aged children in various years of Ambleside Online. I have a daughter in Year 1 and a daughter who began at Year 3. Since Parables of Nature is read in both of these years (and since my Year 3 daughter had not read it), we have been enjoying it over lunch once a week or so. Some of my older children enjoy listening in as well.
This week we read the chapter: Knowledge Not the Limit of Belief. This selection shows us a conversation between a zoophyte and a sample of seaweed. They are quite entertained that Man has misunderstood which is a plant and which is an animal. Then along comes Bookworm, who naturally is quite well read and understands much about the knowledge and behavior of Man.
“But you should not fancy either that you do know everything, or that you are able to know everything. “
Bookworm, a bit frustrated, sets out to help Seaweed and Zoophyte understand a bit about knowledge versus belief. Seaweed and Zoophyte have very narrow and limited knowledge and that leads to a very narrow and limited view of how big life and the world truly is.
“As I said before, even where you cannot understand the wonderful powers themselves, you may have the grace to believe in their existence, from their wonderful results.”
The girls and I had a great discussion about knowledge and belief. My Year 3 daughter was quick to point out that if we relied only on what we have seen, then we won’t know much. We have never been to space and seen the moon up close. We do not have a telescope to view that stars. But we have understanding of the work of the moon and that the stars are more than just twinkling lights. We have never traveled to the Grand Canyon but we know and appreciate its beauty.
“To be sure, because there is no end of strange things for you to believe! And what you can’t find out for yourself, you must take upon trust from your betters. It’s the only plan. Observation and Revelation are the sole means of acquiring knowledge.”
We know of Christ’s sacrifice for us even though we were not standing at the foot of the cross. We know of God’s mercy and grace. We know of His forgiveness.
“But to limit one’s belief to the small powers, would be to tie oneself down to the foot of a tree, and deny the existence of its upper branches.”