Monday, March 4, 2019. What is it that makes humans wise? Today, we all know that we have gained a lot of understanding of natural processes by science. Sciences means the search and research of humans by thinking, testing, experimenting with nature. So we know that without this search and the experiments we cannot gain a proper understanding of natural processes.
Does science make us wise? Mankind has learned by many experiences that sciences helps to understand particular points of nature. Perhaps more, we gain a quite broad image of how important parts of nature work. We do not yet understand many things, but we have a concept for understanding which worked in many cases in the past - and we expect it to help us to gain further insight.
Wisdom and Instruction …
But knowledge alone is not wisdom, and understanding particular elements of nature does not necessarily lead us to wisdom. Here, the biblical texts take up our questions and give us the following input:
1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: 2 To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, 3 to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; 4 to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— 5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, 6 to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (from Proverbs 1)
The text talks about words of wisdom - the words written in the proverbs of Solomon, son of David. He is the wise king who reigned from about 970 BC. Here, one of his key points is that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, and that fools despise wisdom and instruction.
How does this fit to our modern understanding? Let us have a look!
Fear of the Lord …
Is the experiment the beginning of knowledge? Is the ability of humans to search and to think the beginning of knowledge? Where does knowledge start? Or does the author just talk about knowledge of a particular kind, of ethical knowledge perhaps?
From the list of points given to us in the text above, the word “knowledge” is used in context! It is about a man or woman learning, growing in understanding. It is about both wisdom of the mind and wisdom of life. It is not a purely mental knowledge, not just one element of the human mind. It talks about the whole human, about our whole life with all its parts and layers!
I do not see any point of constructing a contradiction of the above passage with science or our understanding of nature. It strongly integrates our human ability to listen to each other and take up the knowledge gained by other people - to receive wisdom and instruction. That has become a major part of our scientific development. Of course, the wisdom Solomon talks about is much wider and addresses our whole life. Here, it is good to listen, to the author of the proverbs as well as to Jesus and his disciples in the New Testament. There is a lot to gain! It is important to start to realize that there is God, who wants to talk to you and to me. We should start to listen to him! (Roland Potthast) ... further texts