What is intelligence? Clearly not the ability to cast doubt. The simplest of minds can do that. Skepticism and doubt may help narrow the field of possible candidates when trying to arrive at the right answer, but there has to be more for our beliefs to take root. It requires the determined and practiced use of our intelligence.
Intelligence is the degree of mental ability we see in the powers of sound reason, reflection, perception, insight, and good judgment. These emerge as evidence of their effectiveness. Actually, intelligence is many things. As an example, here is one we often don’t think of: Intelligence is detected in having the insight to ask the right questions. Think of this familiar adage, “Ask the wrong question and you get the wrong answer.”
Our Intelligence Relies on Evidence
A more detailed definition of observably intelligent behavior (but still not complete) is:
- The skilled development and use of our mental faculties.
- Our use of straight thinking and the avoidance of crooked mental paths.
We often resort to the avoidance or explaining away of evidence because of a preconceived belief that is threatened by “awkward and disturbing” evidence.
Therefore, it is evidence that provides our intelligence with food for thought and belief. Evidence is where we can find muscle for our faith.
Is It Our God?
Einstein said, “We should take care not to make intellect our god: it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.” Coming from Einstein, that statement is telling. Intelligence often evolves into the god of the intelligentsia, giving them the giddy feeling of being elevated above others. It then becomes their god, whether they recognize it or not.
The “Personality” of Intelligence
We could debate the second thought in Einstein’s saying: “no personality.” However, understanding and thoughtful insight can be seen as intelligence’s personality, and perhaps Einstein missed that. The gathering of knowledge is step one in the pursuit of intelligence. Understanding what we know is step two. In step two, intellect shows its personality. Understanding the data of knowledge is what makes intelligence shine and reveals the truth that lies, at times, hidden in the data.
It Is NOT the Ability to Find Doubts
Note: There is no mention in the dictionary that intelligence is the ability to find doubts. Why then, do people feel pride in championing doubt? We can doubt anything that we don’t have full knowledge about. What we don’t know can hide anything. Also remember, doubting any person’s faith is not proof that it is false, either. A goal for skepticism that leads to solutions is not reached by simply exposing doubts. Doubts leave an issue open to ridicule. And ridicule does not advance knowledge.
Parents, the many points in the brief comments above about intelligence will also give you a lot to talk about to educate your children in the productive use of their minds.
In my new book Who Am I?, I describe how we have become “crooked thinkers” and how to break out of this prison of the mind to become instruments of change for a better world by recognizing the source of our value as humans. You can get your copy HERE. (Psst! Subscribers to my weekly updates can receive a 15% discount and free shipping from the above link!)
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