The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

–    Werner Heisenberg

Christians often quote Proverbs 9:10, which says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Do we really know what this means, though?

In the past few decades, popular culture has stereotyped Christians as uneducated or naïve, if not ignorant and bigoted. This can be true, of course. Believers are not exempt from ignorance or foolishness, even when sanctified. Salvation is transformative, but it is neither a mystical superpower nor an excuse to behave foolishly (not to mention, attending a church does not inherently make one “saved”). All throughout history, plenty of folks in churches have used their religion as a tribe through which they could exclude undesirables, and plenty more have used the headship of their clergy as an excuse to not think critically about what they believe – “My [pastor/priest/rabbi] told me so, and therefore I will not question it.”

When I was attending a private Christian university, I once had a professor ask a class of about 20 students to raise their hands if they thought Christians were smarter than the secular population or dumber. I was one of only two people to assert that Christians were smarter.

The professor had each student explain their reasoning, one-by-one. Most people repeated the same tropes you often see in media – Christians are uneducated, they tend to rely on their church to think for them, they’re sheltered, and they’re close-minded toward those who think differently. When it was my turn to defend my position, I had quite a lot to contend with. Yes, I agreed, all of the above can be true. Unfortunately, the US is not lacking in churched people who behave as poorly as the world.

And yet, I argued, those who do not believe are missing a crucial element in their intellect. No matter how intelligent or educated an unbeliever may be, they can never fully arrive at a complete view of reality. Since God is very real and the Bible is packed full of unimaginably profound truths, it could also be said that any person who denies those facts or does not live accordingly is missing key, foundational principles of the universe. If that’s the case, what kind of wisdom can they really have?

All other knowledge, no matter how prestigious or advanced, is worthless unless it is built upon the foundation of all wisdom. Paul tells us in Romans 1 that ignoring God leads to futile and foolish pursuits. Without a fear of the Lord – or, put another way, a reverence for the Lord and His holiness – whatever other knowledge humans can conjure is built on an incorrect view of the world that lacks context.

Proverbs tells us that wisdom existed before creation as a part of God’s nature and as an inherent part of His design of the world (Prov 8:22–31; 3:19). Wisdom is woven into creation. The laws and forces of nature follow wisdom’s principles, and as an extension, so do the directives that God gave mankind. In Job 28, God tells us that wisdom and understanding are outside of our scope and unattainable without Him. We are merely inhabiting tiny portions of the universe, and He even tells us that His wisdom designed the path of lightning bolts and the cycles of the rain (Job 28:12-28). Our minds cannot truly comprehend the scope of how all of creation works, but the more we learn in our scientific pursuits, the more we find that God’s commands for us in Scripture are intrinsically tied to living in harmony with each other and the world as He originally intended.

And so, as Solomon, Paul, James, and many other authors of Scripture tell us, we have a duty to seek wisdom, and in doing so we must also seek the Lord and His ways.

–    Matt H.

Managing Editor, ISOW

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