Acquire Wisdom Over Wealth

The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty. -Proverbs 10:14

The rich man’s strong city above is his inner wisdom. The destruction of the poor occurs because they haven’t sought wisdom first. Without models to improve their worlds, the poor of spirit are continually stuck in self-destructive cycles.

Religion as a Model of Accepted Irrationality

It’s become very popular to hate on religion, to blame religion for all sorts of atrocities, from terrorism to the crusades.

The rationale goes, that religion is a fundamentally irrational, hateful set of ideas. If we simply cut out the irrationality of religion from our collective experience, we’d eliminate war and hate forever.

I won’t disprove that here, but let’s just assume that some power structures benefit by convincing people of evils which weren’t there. And they sell their own perverted version of “religion” to do it.

That being said, it does make sense to use a model of irrationality to shape your life.

Acquire Wisdom First

So what is wisdom?

Wisdom is the ability to optimally (effectively and efficiently) apply perceptions and knowledge and so produce the desired results.

– Wikipedia

So wisdom is a model for the way the world works. But it’s also a model for how we work best within the world. Religiously speaking, we use wisdom to get the results which give us the fullest life possible.

Incline thine ear unto wisdom and apply thine heart to understanding.

– Proverbs 2:2

So really, the quote above is telling us to acquire working models for the world and ourselves first. These models must improve both ourselves and our worlds in their application.

Admit the Limits to Your Intelligence

The world is a big place. There is a lot to know.

Admitting the limits to your intelligence means focusing on building and testing models, above acquiring facts. It also means being aware of irrational ideas, and using them as necessary.

Religion and Science Are Supposed to Work Together

Religion gives us wisdom presented as the religious metaphor, and science gives us the methods to test which models work and which don’t.

There is no great battle between irrational religious people who want to murder everyone, and the upright scientists who drudge on, facing pure rationality in a world of irrationality.

We test models by putting them to work, and measuring their results. The religious models of wisdom which work we can keep for ourselves. The others we let go of.

Negation of A Model for Wisdom Isn’t Wisdom

Understand, dismissing a religious model just because it’s irrational gets you nowhere. The world we live within is irrational. There are predictable models, yes, and reason takes us very far, but reason alone is an insufficient tool to understand the world.

It’s insufficient because it gives us nothing new, only what’s already there.

Which new models will you begin testing today? Which models have worked in the past?

7 thoughts on “Acquire Wisdom Over Wealth

  1. > The rationale goes…If we simply cut out the irrationality of religion from our collective experience, we’d eliminate war and hate forever.

    No-one believes this. You should read Paul Graham on How To Disagree to avoid accidentally attacking strawmen.

    • Michael,

      You are right, it was a straw man. And it was laziness on my part. I simply didn’t want to go into the details of the arguments against religion, and defend them here. I simply wanted to discuss how the irrational models of religion used to guide lives could be tested, without a moral argument of against irrationality.

  2. I have to admit my first reaction to this was surprise, quickly followed by disbelief, then some brief anger and finally a realization that you have no real understanding of the “real world” and its rationality.

    The idea that some things are irrational or that people are, is a myth. We are rational. Just to different degrees. That reason does not provide anything new is a statement of grand ignorance — Religion is what brings nothing new to the world.

    The idea that religion and science can work together is the modern dogma of those who completely misrepresent reasonable thought and scientific work. Science is anathema to religion. It is its true enemy.

    Your argument of not acquiring wealth over wisdom now seems empty and valueless. I think I will focus on facts, understanding and wealth. I leave you your religion, poverty and wisdom.

    • Fred,

      Understand, when we both say religion and irrationality, I think we are both talking about two different things. When I say religion, I think of methods and models created by people dedicated to figuring out how life really works. Of course, there is some good, some bad in every religion. However, I think it’s too easy to dismiss religion as being something bad, without taking from it the things which might help us understand our own worlds a bit better.

      There is no great battle, between the process of scientific inquiry, and the mythology of our religion. Religions give us stories, and models for the way things work, that are completely different from the way science works. We cannot work with “gut feelings” in science. There must be a control and something measured everywhere. Religious metaphor gives us an opportunity to build worlds to explore the way things might work.

      We can then test them in our daily lives.

  3. It is one’s own choice to accept religion, for it is just a common obligation of a group of people or a community to be under a set of moral rules. What’s more important is a person with a right conscience (who believes there is a God), who contribute his best for the welfate for the society. I prefer a person with simplicity, hard-working, humbleness and one that lives righteously. His wisdom proves that he is wealthy (contended with what he have). Being well educated, his admiration is always on science that has no controversy. No body can question such a person.

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