Thursday, July 23, 2009
The Wisdom Of Teeth
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil." That quote has been attributed to Cicero, a Roman statesman and philosopher. Cicero is widely considered to be one of Rome's greatest orators. I had an experience this week that made me start thinking about wisdom.
For the past few weeks I have had a very painful toothache. I went to the dentist on Tuesday. After taking x-rays, he told me that second molar on the lower left was in bad shape. One of the reasons that it had deteriorated was because it was up against my "wisdom tooth". He recommended that I have both teeth pulled.
Having the teeth pulled was quite an ordeal. The wisdom tooth was laying sideways, and the root had a hook that was in the bone. The procedure wasn't that painful, but the pulling, pushing, cutting, tugging and prying made it very uncomfortable. When the anesthetic wore off I was in a lot of pain.
While I was at home nursing a very sore mouth I started wondering why the third molars are called wisdom teeth, and why we have them. I found out that they are called wisdom teeth because usually they come in when a person is between age 17 and 21 or older; old enough to have supposedly gained some "wisdom". Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars. Sometimes these teeth can be a valuable asset to the mouth when healthy and properly aligned, but more often they are misaligned and cause trouble.
I found the explanation of the term "wisdom teeth" to be somewhat amusing. 17 to 21 year olds aren't the first age group that I think of when I think of wisdom. Wisdom comes with experience. The dictionary definition of wisdom is "the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; discernment, or insight.
We to often aren't sure of the difference between wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. There is some overlapping of the definitions. Wisdom is knowledge with understanding. Anyone can get knowledge, but understanding is another thing. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:13, "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding".
I crave knowledge. I am curious about so many different things, and want to learn about them. It is interesting to me to see all the different "facts" that you can find on a given topic. Sorting through the "facts" can make understanding an almost impossible task.
1 Corinthians 1:19-20 tells us "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world"?
I want to make sure that in my quest for knowledge that I look to God for understanding.