Knowledge is acquired information. Intelligence is the ability to use that information to your advantage. Wisdom is learning not to destroying yourself or others in the process.” – Anonymous
In Greek mythology, there are tales of a sacred spring located in the land of Pieria, a region of ancient Macedonia. According to the myth, drinking the Pierian Spring waters would impart great knowledge and inspiration. Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744), one of the great English poets of the eighteenth century, popularized the mythological spring in his 1711 poem entitled An Essay on Criticism,
“A little learning is a dang’rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again”
Pope was expounding upon the danger of shallow learning (or knowledge). Merely sipping on information can be intoxicating as it will make you feel like you know a great deal more than you really do. However, drinking deeply has a sobering effect as you become more and more aware of your own ignorance.
Socrates (469-399 B.C.) the classical Greek philosopher once said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Ponder that for a moment. Actually, the point here is very simple; we really don’t know very much. And that my dear friend is why we must keep learning.
He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” – George Bernard Shaw
Some say that ignorance is the only true path to contentment. According to them, the more you know, the more you realize how happy you were being clueless. Okay, who has not reminisced a time or two about the idyllic days of our youth? So what happened? We grew up. Slowly, as our knowledge increased, we entered the sometimes dark and painful days of adult life. Truthfully, ignorance is NOT bliss – especially when it is used as an excuse to falsely justify apathy. Real joy and peace of mind is seldom found in blithe stupidity.
And then there are those who emphasize spiritual knowledge while shunning intellectual learning. They see the secular and the sacred as somehow mutually exclusive. As a practicing Christian, my faith in God does not require me to abandon practical learning. In life, there are problems to be solved and pitfalls to be avoided. Everyday knowledge is useful – if not vital – while we live in the physical world. But remember, our hopes must never hang upon finite human achievement. No matter the zeniths of mankind’s knowledge, I will always place my absolute trust in the infinite wisdom of the Divine Spirit – the Creator of all things.
But what happens when mankind’s ever increasing empirical, academic and scientific knowledge leads to runaway human arrogance? Can an inability to recognize the inadequacies of our imperfect mortal achievements lead to many dangers and even destruction?
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) once said, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing – but so is a lot.” You know what? I think he was right. In an age of “info-mania” with most of humanity swept up in the vortex of intellectual and technological advancement, an increasing dependency on human knowledge alone can be very dangerous indeed. The prospects of an unchecked knowledge explosion in the hands of people who may have questionable motives or little regard for moral boundaries and restraint is frightening. While the pursuit of knowledge can yield many blessings, its misuse can become a curse. Quoting Einstein once again, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” He made this observation more than 60 years ago. I can only imagine what his reflections would be if he were alive today.
Just look around. We live in a time of extraordinary achievements – the information age – modern marvels. Many of these advancements have improved our quality of life immensely. I am certainly not anti-progress. But, what has the knowledge explosion really cost our nation and the world? Traditions and morality continue to fall by the wayside. Our once cherished values are almost meaningless. Vanity is now celebrated as a virtue. Religion is trampled underfoot. Self-absorption is a doctrine and perversions of every kind are the new norms.
The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief” – Sigmund Freud
John Bertram Phillips (1906 – 1982) was an English Bible scholar, translator, author and clergyman, perhaps best known for his translation of the scriptures – The New Testament in Modern English. Dr. Phillips sheds some keen insight in his rendering of a passage in the New Testament book of Romans. Here, the apostolic writer Paul is addressing the Christian community living in ancient Rome:
3-8 “As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all. (Romans 12:3)
Hmmm. A well-balanced assessment of who we are. The ancient Greeks had an aphorism (concise statement) that you may have heard – “know thyself.” The only way to really know ourselves is to know the one who made us. Learn the truth about God – who he really is and what really happened to his creation – and you will begin to know and understand who you really are.
I once read that the first diamond found in South Africa was picked up off the ground by a farm boy who took it home for his sisters to play with. He had no idea what it was. To him it was just another pretty stone. I wonder how many people are just like that little boy. A treasure more valuable than a priceless diamond is within their grasp. The wisdom and knowledge of the Almighty Creator of this present reality is hidden in the sacred texts of scripture. And yet, that knowledge is seen as worthless by some due to a lack of understanding.
12 “But though men can do all these things, they don’t know where to find wisdom and understanding. 13 They not only don’t know how to get it, but, in fact, it is not to be found among the mortals. – (Job 28:12-13).
You can of course, in your arrogance, reject every word I have written today. But that doesn’t change a thing. There isn’t an opt-out clause in the bible. You are and you always will be subject to the truth. If God is all knowing than his knowledge is perfect. He is therefore absolute truth. For that reason, what He chooses to reveal to humanity is the truth for all of mankind. However, if ignorance is your bliss, enjoy yourself. But remember, Truth always triumphs in the end. There will come a day of reckoning.
It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.” – John Locke
As a follower of the Liberator Jesus and a believer in the only wise God, the path before me is now certain. I have resigned the perfunctory practice of mere religion so that I can live my life in true freedom under God’s Amazing Grace. My knowledge grows with each passing day. His Divine Spirit enables me to see his principles and precepts in pure focus. His wisdom is now my goal; for it is by wisdom that I know how and when to apply the knowledge he has caused me to understand.
7 “Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And with your wisdom, develop common sense and good judgment (understanding).” (Proverbs 4:7)
May we pray? Almighty God, “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; Cause me to understand wherein I have erred” (Job 6:24) and please Lord, “Give me understanding, and I shall live” (Psalm 119:144) and help me to grow each day in wisdom even as I learn to walk in your ways. (Psalm 111:10). Amen
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656