Tom Gilson

No Intelligence Test for the Family of God

“So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.”

I ran across that rather jarring statement the other day on the Internet. It came from the mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), an extraordinarily intelligent man — and a very vocal atheist.

Those are the opening lines of my guest column today at the Newport News Daily Press: “There’s No ‘Intelligence Test’ for the Family of God.” I invite you to take a look at it.

(That link will expire in a few weeks. The article is also available permanently in PDF form here.)

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7 thoughts on “No Intelligence Test for the Family of God

  1. Great article, thanks for sharing it with us. I for one am glad there is no intelligence test for God’s kingdom, I am sure I would falter on that requirement, but the “general public” would be in big trouble too 🙂

  2. Hi Tom,
    I’ve wondered for a long time about that quote from Russell. Doesn’t Jesus say in Matthew 10:16 “be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” The Greek word used for wise means, as far as I can tell, thoughtful and discerning.
    In Luke 10:27 we are told to love God with all our heart and soul and strength and mind. God wants us to use our intelligence, but for His Glory. So it seems to me.
    Of course there is nothing in the Gospels that praises intelligence divorced from wisdom and purity of heart. No surprise there!
    Any further thoughts on this?
    P.S. You have a great blog!

  3. Good points.

    I heartily agree we need to love God with all our minds, and to pursue wisdom.

    That’s not quite what Russell had in mind, in my opinion. But I could be wrong. My impression wasn’t that Russell was encouraging people to use all their potential; rather, that people who have higher native intelligence ought to be praised. And that’s what you don’t see Jesus saying.

    So if I misinterpreted Russell then that would certainly cause confusion.

  4. Proverbs 1:7=The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.(NIV) but now I admit I must go read your article….though I might have to agree with Russell if he defines intelligence as the American educational system does…..

  5. Proverbs 1:7=The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.(NIV) but now I admit I must go read your article….though I might have to agree with Russell if he defines intelligence as the American educational system does…..
    Having read the other article – I would add that knowledge and wisdom are given to us. The concept of intelligence is that it is congenital.
    How could one not believe?

  6. I rather think Russell either didn’t know how to read, or was being deliberately difficult. Setting the issue of “wisdom” or “being wise” aside, which I think is a good argument for the praise of the application of intelligence and theology to everyday life. The very nature of the interactions of Jesus with others as recorded in the gospels calls on the reader to bend their mind to the task of discerning the meaning and content.

    Jesus argumentation style with the Pharisees is a classic praise of intelligence and wit. It would be pedantic to have to “praise intelligence” after watching him in action. Sort of like watching a great baseball player knock one out of the park and then saying, “Now there is a man who can hit the ball very well.”

    Repeatedly Jesus asks others to reason, and repeatedly calls people foolish for not reasoning through properly. No, there is not one word in praise of intelligence, there are many.

  7. My intelligence is what grants me immense humbleness. 🙂
    I adored Russel and thought he was my new hero.. the first 15 minutes of discovering him on You Tube. Now his premises are in the same dust-bin with Dawkins’ fairy-tales.
    Neither persue truth.
    I defy ANYONE to use their intellect to understand and define THE most evident truth in human existance. Their own consciousness right here right now.
    Science can’t go there. Intellect can’t go there.
    Science is a trivial branch off from philosophy just as religion is. Surely the “tree of knowledge” describes this all-advised god of reason with a devotion to odds. Einstien knew intuitively (religiously or not) that no such god of random could be allowed.
    Science by nature worships the delineation of odds. Works great! Bit it’s unwise for intellect to confine itself to that method to the exclusion of all others, such as Einstein’s just as demonstrated intuition, devoid of experiment.

    Father Jonathan Morris invited Dawkins onto his philisophical turf. Dawkins declined, to his credit, but then ventured back into the “bad effects of religion”, ignoring Father Jon entirely.
    Some scientist.

    My whole point is that WHEN??!! will philosophy or even it’s offspring, science, stand up for other forms of knowledge besides empirical evidence whose buildings of posulates in the clouds have a foundation of ONLY it’s own cross corroboration. Devoid of truth.

    Can anyone honestly state that there are not certain truths you were born with which have nothing to do with the intellect? God is one and all of those truths.

    Thanks for the read, sir. Just a dtrive-by post. 🙂

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