My 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Ruth, told us: "Math is perfect. It always works. There is always an answer that is correct, and most of the time, you know exactly what you're looking for in the answer."
Third grade was the first time anyone had told me that something could be perfect. The perfection of math was the first standard of perfection I had in my mind as a measuring stick. I've been a "counter" since I can remember (at least since 2nd grade when I counted the steps I took to get to school), so math is something that naturally appeals to my mind and the way it works.
Math requires no opinion. Even imaginary numbers are complete and perfect. It works backward and forward. It is provable. Mathematics is a man-made, man-discovered, and man-named concept. It is perfect, yet it advances (which to me makes it UBERperfect). It cannot be taken out of context. Errors in calculations are easily found and corrected.
When we study math, there is no gray area (aside from mathematical intellectuals seeking new ways to explain concepts or occurrences). We know that X means multiply. We know that Pi roughly equals 3.14159. We know squares have 4 sides, that circles have angles within them that sum to 360 degrees, and that right triangles always have one 90 degree angle in them. We know how many inches are in a foot, and how many feet are in a mile. We know concrete facts in math; not because someone told us that we must believe 1+1=2 in order to survive, but because someone taught us how to prove it, and required us to show our proof to prove we understood the concept.
All of that brings me to the problem I have with the bible; the claim that it is the inerrant word of God, meaning it is perfect in form.
Aside from my ability to be a good mother, one of my most cherished traits is intellect, or wisdom. I feel I have a keen understanding of many things and many people. I truly desire to understand things and concepts and people. I hunger for knowledge. I enjoy other people who are as eager to learn and dissect things as I am.
My search for wisdom in the bible started with some "good" results, ones that seemed to be in favor of my fondness for wisdom.
Proverbs 3:13 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.
So I'm not a man, but mother nature isn't a woman, so I'll take it.
Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
This makes wisdom sound very important.
Proverbs 19:8 He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.
Here, it is good to be proud of your wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. (12)Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.
Wisdom is better/more beneficial than money - it can even be what preserves life!
Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Even Jesus' wisdom is commended, as he is favored by all.
All of this seems to point to wisdom being a virtue. Then, the other side of wisdom...
Ecclesiastes 1:18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
Wait, something that can preserve my life can make me grieve? 6 chapters later, wisdom can preserve life? Is that grievous?
Ecclesiastes 2:15-16 Then I thought in my heart, "The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?" I said in my heart, "This too is meaningless." (16) For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die!
So, since everyone must die, there's no point in doing anything? Understanding anything?
Acts 17:17-34 In this story, Paul is appealing to intellectuals and philosophers of Athens, utilizing his wisdom and knowledge to convince them that their unknown god is now known through Christ. He only gained a few followers, so...
I Corinthians 1:18-25 Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are not particularly wise, and cites the prophet Isaiah as saying "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Therefore, when talking to mental midgets, Paul's stance on and appeal to intellect falters, whereby bringing in the notion that God chose the fools to shame the wise, so that no one can boast....
The only 2 things that I could find as being actually ascribed to Christ himself on the topic of wisdom were a little disconcerting also.
Matthew 11:25 At that time, Jesus said, "I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."
Mark 4:10-12 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked about the parables. (11) He told them "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables (12) so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!"
Obviously, unlike math, the bible is not perfect. No one can seem to agree on the value of wisdom, and even Jesus seems to revel in the cleverness of his own cryptic teachings. These verses are like variables in math, and if the bible were perfect, each variable could be taken as a singular and be perfect. That is to say, if the bible is perfect, everything about it would be perfect, and there would be no need for "study bibles" and human intervention and translation. It would be universal in language and meaning.
While trying to gain further understanding of some of these verses, some bible studies I came across said that "wisdom" and "understanding" actually refer to the wisdom and understanding of God and the nature of God. Spiritual wisdom/understanding, if you will. Seems quite presumptuous that I should go into reading scripture knowing that anything said about my brain is actually referring to my heart.
I will also mention that NONE of the first 5 verses (the ones I thought were positive) about wisdom and understanding were listed in either the topical index or the concordance of my bible (The Quest Study Bible, New International Version). All of the others were. Is it really any wonder why I subscribe to conspiracy theory?
I'm blaming Paul for this one.