a black and white image of an old man

What is Wisdom and Who is Wise?

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Age is often equated with wisdom. This belief is based on the idea that knowledge is something which is accumulated, but I dispute this. I don’t believe knowledge and experience are things that are stored up, as many people believe, in the cells of our brains. I don’t believe that in any given moment a human being is holding onto a certain amount of wisdom within their body.

What we think and believe is determined by God, out of His infinite wisdom. So I agree with the Christian Scriptures when they say God alone is wise (see Jude 25, for example). I believe that our thoughts and feelings arise because God chooses to manifest them in a certain way at a certain time; God does not necessarily determine them based on what we’ve been through in the past.

We think of children as growing wiser with age, but this isn’t true. Children do not become wiser, they simply change in their character and behaviour, according to how God chooses to animate their thoughts and actions as He unfolds their lives.

We can hold beliefs for a while, and God may change those beliefs as we grow older, but we should never become puffed up and think, “I have been through a lot, therefore I know better”. Such a statement is to misrepresent the way knowledge and wisdom function in human beings.

Think of the actions of a tiny spider, no bigger than a couple of millimeters, which is able to create a relatively vast and complex web. The spider is a vessel for God’s wisdom; it is not wise in itself. It does not require a large brain to know how to undertake complex tasks, because the tasks it does are not based on accumulated knowledge, but by the present-moment animating power of God.

If you need convincing that knowledge stored in brains isn’t the cause of creaturely activity, look at the example of the jellyfish, which has no brain, and yet lives a full and varied life just like any other creature.

Animals do not function as a result of brain activity, and neither do human beings. We are all animated by God, and there is no part of us that can be said to ‘contain’ wisdom. We are merely vessels for God to express different aspects of His infinite wisdom, and animating the lives of creatures is a game God plays (in endless different ways) as He unfolds the story of the universe.