Intelligence vs. Wisdom; May 18, 2023

Proverbs 13:14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
turning a man from the snares of death.

This actually is a good guideline for judging wisdom: does it bring life? It also points up the distinction between wisdom and intelligence: there have been and are plenty of intelligent evil people. Of course the ultimate example of wisdom is Jesus. As He Himself said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) The devil is more intelligent than any merely human being, but as Jesus said in that same verse, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” That’s the scary thing about Artificial Intelligence. There’s a lot of debate right now over whether it is, or ever could be, sentient, but in a sense that is beside the point. The thing is, it can never be wise in the sense of reflecting the heart of the Creator. The best it can do is reflect the hearts of the human programmers who develop it. AI has the potential to transform society in a number of ways, both good and bad, but we must never forget that distinction between wisdom and the merely intelligent. For true wisdom we must always seek the Creator of life. The Bible says repeatedly, with minor variations, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) That is the path to life, just as it says here.

I’ve always been a techie, into science fiction and all that, so the idea of machine intelligence isn’t at all new to me, but now that it is upon us I realize that this distinction between intelligence and wisdom is of the utmost importance. As I have seen quoted recently, a line from Jurassic Park is very pertinent: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” On a very personal scale, I was blessed with a high IQ, but that doesn’t mean all of my pronouncements or actions have been wise. I desire that my teaching would be a fountain of life, but that will happen only to the degree that I am submitted and obedient to the One who is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6) I have learned the hard way that I have no wisdom inherent in myself, but I have also learned that the Holy Spirit will guide me into all truth. (John 16:13) I desire that my words be useful to the Holy Spirit in turning people from death, just as this verse says.

Father, thank You for the intelligence You have given me, and for enabling me to realize that intelligence by itself is never enough. Help me always seek, fear, and love You, so that Your wisdom may be reflected through me for the salvation of many, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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