Intelligence, Knowledge, and Wisdom

Bill Abbate

How do you define intelligence? Most definitions don’t do it justice. The Oxford Languages dictionary states simply “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.” But intelligence is so much more.

Let’s examine a few of the many types of intelligence.

Types of intelligence

Two of the more recognized forms of intelligence include cognitive and emotional. Cognitive intelligence is your ability to think, perceive, and reason. Emotional intelligence is about managing your emotions and understanding the emotions of those around you.

A little searching on the internet will turn up many types of intelligence. One of the more notable sources is Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. His theory includes eight intelligence types:

  • logical-mathematical
  • linguistic
  • spatial
  • musical
  • bodily-kinesthetic
  • intrapersonal
  • interpersonal
  • naturalistic.

Unfortunately, I believe Garner overlooked one of the most important types —spiritual intelligence.

The source of intelligence

Have you ever wondered where all of this intelligence comes from? Did it develop on its own, or did it originate another way? Without intelligence, life would not exist — or would it?

Considering there is far more to this universe than we know, it is challenging to believe intelligence came out of thin air. There must be another explanation. It started somewhere, as did everything in creation.

Logic tells us that everything created must have had a creator. The most prolific inventor in history had this to say about intelligence:

“I know this world is ruled by Infinite Intelligence. Itrequired Infinite Intelligence to create itand it requires Infinite Intelligence to keep it on its course.” Thomas A. Edison (1847–1931)

Is Edison referring to God? What he says makes sense. God’s intelligence is indeed infinite. It also makes sense that infinite intelligence would originate from a single source: God. What other explanation could there be?

What about wisdom?

How does wisdom fit into this discussion? Knowledge is merely knowledge, intelligence is simply intelligence, but wisdom is on an entirely different plane of existence. Knowledge and intelligence lean toward being factual or competency-based.

Wisdom is about making meaning of knowledge and intelligence at a deep level and communicating it. Wisdom can offer different viewpoints/perspectives and profound understanding in ways intelligence cannot.

One person’s take on intelligence without wisdom is:

“Intelligence without wisdom is nothing more thanstupidity that looks smart.” Craig D. Lounsbrough (1959-present)

For example, an ongoing debate today is between intelligent design and Darwinism. What separates the two is wisdom. Theories about Darwinism claim we were created by happenstance, fate, coincidence, the survival of the fittest, and such. Do you believe mankind came from a primordial soup? The odds of a complex being such as a human coming from such a thing are incalculable.

Intelligence design is purposeful, designed, and created. It requires the involvement of someone or something.The explanation for the Judeo-Christian community is simple — intelligence is from the creator of all that exists — God. He is the sole source of everything, including wisdom.

“All wisdom comes from the Lord, and so do common sense and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6, CEV)

Wisdom takes intelligence to a whole new level. Where knowledge and intelligence are neutral regarding good and evil, wisdom recognizes each for what they are. Wisdom provides different perspectives, clearly distinguishing between good and evil. Wisdom leads you to avoid evil and do good. Wisdom can point to the positive and away from the negative.

Most people recognize there is more at play than man and his intelligence.

“The first point one has to get straight in discussions like this, is that [intelligent design] isnot the opposite of evolution. Rather, it is the opposite of Darwinism, which says life evolved by an utterly unguided, undirected mechanism.

If God directed the process of evolution, or rigged the universe to produce complex life, then that is not Darwinism — it is intelligent design. Michael Behe (1952-present)

Throughout history, many brilliant people have recognized there was something more at play in the world than nature.

“There are enough evidences of supreme skill in the structure ofthe human hand aloneto prove the existence, intelligence and benevolence of God…” A. B. Simpson (1843–1919)

In the end, Charles Darwin himself admitted to the intelligent design of the universe:

“Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings,impresses me as having much more weight.This follows from the extreme difficulty or ratherimpossibilityof conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity.

When thus reflectingI feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mindin some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called aTheist.” Charles Darwin (1809–1892)

As you can see, Darwin called himself a theist, someone who believes there is a creator of the universe and that God exists. Atheism conveniently overlooks this and Darwin’s admission in the above statement, “I feel compelled to look to a First Cause, having an intelligent mind…”

In atheism’s belief in Darwinism over intelligent design, their hero, Darwin, destroys their idea that God does not exist.

Another issue with atheism is that most disavow the spiritual world because we cannot see or touch it. Yet most of us know in our hearts and minds that a vast spiritual world exists regardless of what we can see. How else can the continuing “mystery” (in science, neuroscience, and psychology) of consciousness be explained?

Final thoughts

Scripture makes the “mystery” of the single point of all intelligence, wisdom, and creation clear.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” (John 1:1–4, NIV)

God, whose wisdom is far beyond what any human can imagine, sent His son to die for the sins of the world. Having the final say over His creation, God points to the folly of human wisdom.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (1 Corinthians 1:18–19, NIV)

May we become more intelligent and heed God’s wisdom in Proverbs:

“Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15, NLT)

May you always be ready to learn about God’s love for you and accept His wisdom. leave you with these final verses from the Bible. May you accept them in your heart as the ultimate truth in your life!

“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may knowthe mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.” (Colossians 2:2–4, NIV)


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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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