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Featured Which Religions Value Intelligence?

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by Sunstone, May 30, 2020.

  1. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    PLEASE NOTE: This is a discussion thread, not a debate thread. State your views. Provide your reasons for them. Ask respectful questions of other posters. Discuss your views with them. Even compare and contrast your views with other positions purely for the sake of clarification. BUT DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PROVE OTHER POSITIONS FALSE OR WRONG! Moreover, please report to the Mods any posts that engage in debate, or attempt to.

    I believe it was Bertrand Russell who famously remarked that he had scoured the Bible and found no instance in which it affirmed the value of intelligence as a virtue. Whether he was right or wrong about that is an interesting question, but a rather limited one here. Christianity is only one of the world's several major religions. With that in mind, which, if any, religions value intelligence?






     
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  2. KAT-KAT

    KAT-KAT Well-Known Member

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    I can't think of (m)any myself. The closest I can come is that a proper understanding of church is important in Catholicism, to the point that many people wanting to be Catholic have to take special classes to join the Catholic Church.
     
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  3. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Good point. Are you familiar with Confucianism?
     
  4. KAT-KAT

    KAT-KAT Well-Known Member

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    Somewhat. Enough for me to understand what others are saying on the subject, but not enough for the conversation to be very two-way.
     
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  5. Left Coast

    Left Coast Black Lives Matter
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    The Bible places lots of value on wisdom, not on intelligence (as in IQ) per se. Intelligence in itself really isn't morally laudable; what one does with it is.

    The Buddha's emphasis, similarly, was on accurate insight into the nature of reality. One could argue that's easier if you're intelligent. On the other hand, intelligence can also lead to over-thinking, rationalization, and the many nuanced defense mechanisms smarty pants folks use to guard their vices and delusions.
     
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  6. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    That would explain a lot. Russell, by the way, was famous for his belief that reason invariably led to humane values and behavior. I think it's possibly he assumed that wisdom was a natural outgrowth of intelligence.

    Sounds like a balanced view of intelligence.
     
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  7. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    Spot on.

    A wise King once wrote....
    "For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it." (Ecclesiastes 7:12 ESV)

    Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge intelligently....so in order to act wisely, one must first be taught well.

    Romans 12:1-2 (Darby)
    "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the compassions of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your intelligent service. (logikos)
    And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [your] mind, that ye may prove what [is] the good and acceptable and perfect will of God."


    God does not want your service to him to be blind, but to value the knowledge that he imparts in order to build your relationship with him by the power of your reason. Prove it to yourself. (Psalm 34:8)
     
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  8. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

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    Then we should prove God to be virtuous by way of learning wisdom and knowledge and the intelligent application of it. Fair enough! Blindly following after God doesn't show any fruitfulness in my eyes.

    I dare say wisdom is intelligence. Wisdom seeks to gain understanding, and will not do without proper knowledge. Knowledge alone is not intelligence. I had a friend in my youth who knew how to make household bombs. One day he charred his leg. Not very intelligent.
     
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  9. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    To add to this, did any pre-modern group value intelligence per se? Did the concept even exist? (I don't know the answer to this)

    Wisdom, reason, etc. were valued but are really about practical application of knowledge and ethics to one's situation/environment rather than an abstract intelligence.
     
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  10. Amanaki

    Amanaki Well-Known Member

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    As far as i know and understand, religions practice has nothing to do with intelligence at all. It is wisdom and insight, morality, ethics, virtue that is the foundation of the spiritual life, not IQ
     
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  11. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    @Sunstone Two very good answers already from @KAT-KAT and @Left Coast both of which I agree with.

    Coast is right about the predominant value in the biblical texts being placed upon the pursuit and cultivation of a "wise" state of mind. Indeed, there is an entire genre in the Bible - amounting to five Old Testament books in the Catholic canon (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Sirach and Wisdom of Solomon) - known by scholars as the "sapiential" (Latin for "relating to Wisdom") literature.

    Wisdom is not set in contradiction to 'reason / understanding': “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding [תָּבוּן, tebunah] it is established” (Proverbs 24:3), the translation of the Hebrew word 'tebunah' being:


    Strong's Hebrew: 8394. תָּבוּן (tebunah) -- an understanding

    And (feminine) tbuwnah {teb-oo-naw'}; or towbunah {to-boo-naw'}; from biyn; intelligence; by implication, an argument; by extension, caprice -- discretion, reason, skilfulness, understanding.

    Wisdom is like an unmediated insight into the nature of things, which the sapiential books portray as a divine gift of grace, whereas 'reason / intelligence / understanding' is basically the mediated way in which that intuitive grasp of knowledge is then 'skilfully' arranged and applied using the intellect (i.e. discursive reasoning).

    By implication wisdom, however, is a higher and purer form of knowledge - but you need 'intelligence' also to apply its insights practically (as in the metaphor of a house, built according to the grand vision of a 'wise man' through his subsequent 'understanding' of the actual construction process).

    As the Book of Sirach - one of the Wisdom books found only in Catholic and Orthodox canons - writes:


    "Every intelligent person knows wisdom, and praises the one who finds her. Those who are skilled in words become wise themselves, and pour forth apt proverbs"

    (Sirach 18:28-29)


    "A wooden beam firmly bonded into a building
    is not loosened by an earthquake;
    so the mind firmly resolved after due reflection
    will not be afraid in a crisis.

    A mind settled on an intelligent thought
    is like stucco decoration that makes a wall smooth.

    Fences set on a high place
    will not stand firm against the wind;
    so a timid mind with a fool’s resolve
    will not stand firm against any fear.
    "

    (Sirach 22:16-18)​


    Solomon was the prototypical biblical exemplar of a ruler who lived in harmony with Wisdom: “God said to him [Solomon], “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice. I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart” (1 King 3:11-12). In the New Testament, wisdom is likewise described as being characterised by the following qualities: "the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason [eupeithes], full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).

    The Greek word eupeithes rendered in the ESV and NASB translations as "open to reason" means: "an attitude that thinks of others instead of self. True wisdom does not insist on its own way but is open to persuasion from others. The wise person is compliant and reasonable, not a know-it-all. He ‘listens carefully to the other instead of attacking him” (The College Press NIV Commentary: James and Jude), as St. Paul writes in his epistles: "[if] I understand all mysteries and all knowledge...but have not love, I am nothing...Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way" (1 Corinthians 13:2-4).

    Thus, wisdom is necessary to temper and tame the arrogance, closed-mindedness and trenchant refusal of some 'smart' people in not being open to persuasion from others, that can arise from 'intelligence' on its own: if sundered from a proper ethical framework and lacking in compassionate loving-kindness for others.

    Wisdom - in the biblical framework - enables a person to understand how one should respond in any given situation: at the right time, in the right way, with the right mindset formed by the right attitude and using the right means to that end:


    There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
    "

    (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)​


    Wisdom is thus knowing what one is to do with the time that is given. As JRR Tolkien said in the Lord of the Rings:


    “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”


    Many of these sapiential books expound upon the nature of Wisdom - equating it with a semi-divine emanation of the eternal God (personified as a woman), which existed with Him from the beginning as the first of His works, functioned as His agent of creation and immanent activity in the world - and the means by which the human seeker is to become a wise person, living according to the insights and knowledge of the Divine Wisdom (which is both a mental and religious activity, inasmuch as Wisdom comes to "dwell" within the person who imitates her, thus amounting to a mystical immersion in God).

    The Wisdom tradition was, therefore, early biblical Judaism's mystical strain of thought (akin to Vedanta) before the Merkabah mysticism and Kabbalah emerged. Again, from one of the wisdom books found only in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles:


    "For Wisdom is a breath of the power of God,
    and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;
    therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.
    For she is a reflection of eternal light,
    a spotless mirror of the working of God,
    and an image of his goodness.

    Although she is but one, she can do all things,
    and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
    in every generation she passes into holy souls
    and makes them friends of God, and prophets..."


    (Wisdom of Solmon 7:25-27)

    (continued...)
     
    #11 Vouthon, May 30, 2020
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
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  12. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    The early Christians were a "wisdom" sect (as well as an eschatological one) of Second Temple Judaism, inasmuch as they regarded Jesus to have been the physical incarnation and manifestation of Wisdom in the flesh, which in their theology was combined with the Stoic-Philonic concept of the "Logos" (Divine Reason immanent in the universe, according to which everything operates) to formulate the first Christologies. In the Gnostic churches, Wisdom rendered into Greek as "Sophia", on the other hand, became the Divine Female Partner of Jesus and the centre of Gnostic ritual life.

    As Jesus himself wrote, referring to himself in the third person as the Divine Wisdom:


    "The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Nevertheless, Wisdom is vindicated by all her children"

    (Luke 7:35)

    Speaking directly in personam as Divine Wisdom herself in another verse, Jesus describes himself using feminine imagery as the "mother hen" trying to bring all of her children under wings:

    Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34:


    Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings!”



    Holy Wisdom - Wikipedia


    Holy Wisdom (Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, Latin: Sancta Sapientia, Russian: Святая София Премудрость Божия, romanized: Svatya Sofiya Premudrost' Bozhya "Holy Sophia, Divine Wisdom") is a concept in Christian theology.

    Christian theology received the Old Testament personification of Wisdom (Hebrew Chokhmah) as well as the concept of Wisdom (Sophia) from Greek philosophy, especially Platonism. In Christology, Christ the Logos as God the Son was identified with Divine Wisdom from earliest times.

    The identification of Christ with God's Wisdom is ancient, and was explicitly stated by the early Church Fathers, including Justin Martyr and Origen. The clearest form of the identification of Divine Wisdom with Christ comes in 1 Corinthians 1:17–2:13.

    When rebutting claims about Christ's ignorance, Gregory of Nazianzus insisted that, inasmuch as he was divine, Christ knew everything: "How can he be ignorant of anything that is, when he is Wisdom, the maker of the worlds, who brings all things to fulfilment and recreates all things, who is the end of all that has come into being?" (Orationes, 30.15).


    As St. Paul wrote:


    "...We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God...

    Among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age...But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

    What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the human heart conceived,
    what God has prepared for those who love him
    ’—

    these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

    Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are discerned spiritually. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.

    ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord
    so as to instruct him?’

    But we have the mind of Christ
    ."

    (1 Corinthians 1.23, 2:1-14)


    "I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge"

    (Colossians 2:2-3)

    St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430):


    CHURCH FATHERS: Sermon 69 on the New Testament (Augustine)


    "Where is that Wisdom, in which you have made all things? Hasn’t she come down? Hasn’t the Word become flesh, and dwelt among us? Didn’t she set on fire the lamp of her own flesh, when she hung on the cross—and didn’t she search for her lost drachma? She searched and she found it, and her neighbors rejoiced with her—that is, every spiritual creature that is very near to God. The drachma was found, and the neighbors rejoiced: the human soul was found, and the angels rejoiced." (Augustine, Enarrat. Ps. 103.4.2.)

    And Pope St. Gregory the Great (540 – 604):


    "The woman lit a lamp because the Wisdom of God appeared in human nature (in humanitate). For a lamp is a light in an earthen vessel, but the light in the earthen vessel is the divinity in the flesh (in carne)" (Gregory the Great, Homiliae in Evangelia 2.34.6.)​
     
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  13. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    Knowledge is nothing more than knowing stuff. Wisdom is the putting it all together and using it in wise ways (sorry for the circular definition). I don't know of any religion, as a whole, that promotes these, particularly when it comes to intelligence. Many shy away from that one.
     
    #13 Shadow Wolf, May 30, 2020
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  14. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    As noted above, I consider wisdom to be an outgrowth of intelligence.

    The foundational Buddhist Eightfold Path is often subdivided (you can never have enough lists!) into three categories, one of which is Wisdom. This consists of:

    Right View.
    The purpose of right view is to clear one's mind from misunderstandings and deluded thinking.

    Right Intention.
    The aspiration to behave in a manner that is informed by right view.

    ("Path" can be a misleading term, since the eight factors are concurrent, not sequential).

    It is, I think, also worth noting that whatever one may think wisdom is, it is something that cannot be simply given to you, it comes from within yourself.
     
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  15. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    I don’t know about intelligence per se. But there are deities that are supposed to represent wisdom in various religions. Like Ganesh in Hinduism or Athena for the Ancient Greeks
    :shrug:
     
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  16. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    As others have mentioned, there quite a difference between wisdom and intelligence. In raja yoga (inner study of the mind) the intellect is studied as a tool, but not worshiped or put on a pedestal of sorts. So in that sense it's valued, much like most of us value these things called computers. (an analogy for intelligence as well) Even 40 years back we could never have these discussions. The computer came out of intelligence.

    But just as we can turn off a computer, there are times in life when we should turn off the intellect.

    Wisdom is the timely application of knowledge.
     
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  17. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    Judaism does seem to encourage reading, deep discussion and discourse, even disagreement sometimes. And it is to that, I think, that we can attribute the amazing preponderence of Nobel Prize winners among Jews given how few there actually are around the world, compared to other religions.

    And in the end, learning to think for oneself is one of the foremost markers of intelligence. Learning dogma by rote to apply to every situation is the opposite.
     
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  18. IndigoChild5559

    IndigoChild5559 Loving God and my neighbor as myself.

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    Judaism? It is valued to be able to read the Torah and Talmud and debate the Law. The rite of passage is a reading test. LOL You kind of need to be intelligent to do those things well.
     
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  19. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    With that in mind, which, if any, religions value intelligence?

    I came across a brief summary of the Baha'i Faith that I'll share here:

    "In thousands upon thousands of locations around the world, the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith inspire individuals and communities as they work to improve their own lives and contribute to the advancement of civilization. Bahá’í beliefs address such essential themes as the oneness of God and religion, the oneness of humanity and freedom from prejudice, the inherent nobility of the human being, the progressive revelation of religious truth, the development of spiritual qualities, the integration of worship and service, the fundamental equality of the sexes, the harmony between religion and science, the centrality of justice to all human endeavours, the importance of education, and the dynamics of the relationships that are to bind together individuals, communities, and institutions as humanity advances towards its collective maturity."

    What Bahá’ís Believe | The Bahá’í Faith

    As a Baha'i ... I admit I have a lot further to go to even begin to live up to these principles.
     
  20. Samantha Rinne

    Samantha Rinne Resident Genderfluid Writer/Artist

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    Catholicism is actually pretty anti-intellectual if you ask me.
    1. They believe the Pope to be some sort of super holy man
    2. They believe the blood and wine literally BECOME the body and blood of Christ
    3. For reference, Protestants refuse to believe either form of nonsense.

    I find this entire stance insulting. Theological study is key to most religious belief, so this idea that priests are uneducated is garbage.

    Let's begin in order...
    1. Animism and Shamanism have virtually no study among the lay. On the other hand, the holy people sometimes are known to study things like herbal lore or incantations. There is at the very least, some degree of memorizing.
    2. Shintoism is largely unrevealed and has fairly basic teachings. The lay do learn some legends, and the priests and mikos might learn some cleansing rituals.
    3. Catholicism has one book, yet the average lay person simply trusts what the Pope has to say. The priest learns a fair amount of theology. But honestly whatever you've heard about specisl training is probably wrong.
    4. Most Protestants are at least marginally educated, but again, they are only required to learn one book. The priests at least have decent grasp of theology.
    5. Next are Muslims, I'd imagine. This is a metter of law of averages. Muslims can be nearly as well read as Jews, particularly if they are theological scholars, since there are is the Quran plus many other additional writings of added teachings and interpretations. But at the other end of the spectrum, many Islamic countries have many people who cannot read Arabic much less know the Quran properly, so what they hear about it is basically misinformation or told directly by the imam. They do have madrasa, but still...
    6. Then we have Taoists. It's fairly high-brow even among its lay, and there are interdisciplinary studies like Ba Gua, Tai Chi, acupuncture, and feng shui. The actual religious text however is relatively short and sweet.
    7. Then we have Jews, who typically learn the Tanakh from birth almost. The Jews are much more educated both in religious mstters and in general (often becoming lawyers or accountants). In addition, they don't just study the Hebrew Bible, they study rabbinical texts, prophecies, legends, etc which the average Christian knows nothing about.
    8. The Buddhists study sutras and even memorize some of them. They have hundreds of writings, and frankly some of these are so high-brow that they almost beat out Hindus. They're also encouraged to understand philosophy and free thought to a far greater degree than (rote memorized) Jews. They are taught to interpret koans or seemingly unanswerable questions, and try to search for enlightenment. And they have many many scriptures.
    9. If you want to be a Hindu, it's sort of a set of stages. There's the theme park polytheism that many people observe, there's Triune Hinduism, and there's a sort of impersonal monotheistic notion beyond this. We are also talking about thousands of years of scriptures. They have a very complicated religion with mant stages of evolution and there is no sense of self-containment unlike the Bible.
    Hindu texts - Wikipedia
    This is a lot of texts.
     
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