Big Bang Theory: The Wisdom of Man
So if we are honest, most of us don’t have a clue on some of the science and technical aspects that are discussed on Big Bang Theory. We don’t like to admit it but we are a lot more on the Penny side of some of these things. I’m married to a scientist, so when we watch this show together, it’s funny for completely different reasons. I get all the geek pop culture/superhero/comic book/video game references, and my wife gets all the nerd science/math/etc references. It’s still enjoyable either way, but I’m not even gonna pretend I have half the understanding she does. The characters are smart, there’s no denying it. Leonard & Sheldon are both Physicists, Howard is an Aerospace Engineer, and Raj is an Astrophysicist. Their intellect alone should be enough to take over the world, but one of the things the show points out, much to our amusement, is that even though these guys are geniuses, they often lack common sense. In fact in some cases, Penny is the wisest out of the group because she can actually grasp social situations.
You can also factor in Bernadette and Amy into this equation as well. In most of these cases, these people represent the pinnacle of intelligence, yet the show is a comedy. Because sometimes it doesn’t matter how smart we are, it’s about how we apply the knowledge we have to our lives and whose definition of wisdom we are striving for.
One of the ongoing jokes of the series is the “Dr.,” “Dr.,” “Dr.,” gag where they leave Howard out because he isn’t on the same level as his other compatriots or even in regards to making jokes of Penny’s intelligence. Let me be clear, I’m not complaining, I find it funny, this illustrates the point that we as a people take pride in thinking we are right. We take pride in thinking we know more, are more informed, or have more intelligent opinions than others, and that’s something God warns us against.
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul demonstrates, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” (Verses 18-20).
God knows full well how highly we think of ourselves, but as He teaches us, it’s futile to become wise by the world’s standards alone. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for higher education and continual growth. Even Jesus grew more wise. Luke 2:52 “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with
God and man.” But it’s a matter of whose standards of wisdom we are clinging to. As Paul stated, the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. How often have you watched this show and thought “these guys are idiots.” They may be extremely intelligent, but God has his own definition of wisdom.
Check out James 3. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (Verses 13-16). Pause for a second. How many times have you seen these men of wisdom get into fights over who gets credit for a project, the most recognition, grant money, the girl, or even the “spot” on a couch. Intelligent, yes; wise, not so much. Going on, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (Verses 17-18).
This is what wisdom really looks like, not just who can solve insane equations and sound most convincing when they discuss string theory. If our wisdom doesn’t translate over to how we live, how we treat others, and how we love, we truly are fools. Being fools in these terms also makes it really hard to see God, how He is moving, and the reality He plays in our day to day lives.
1 Corinthians 1:18-21 “ For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.”
Sheldon was even brought up in a “Christian” environment (at least in sitcom terms), but Sheldon refers to Christianity as "pre-enlightenment mythology." His own intelligence almost prevents him from seeing anything beyond his own understanding. When his World Of Warcraft account gets hacked he exclaims "Why hast thou forsaken me, o deity whose existence I doubt?" This is a guy who has a better understanding of the way the universe works than anyone. This should be something that draws him closer to God, not further away. I’ve heard speakers preach Gospel messages for 20 years, and to this day one of my favorites is hearing my wife teach as a scientist. She explains the ridiculous precision in an optic nerve, or the way a baby’s hearts start pumping in the opposite direction when it takes its first breath, or a million other science-y things that show how powerful and amazing God’s creation is. Her vast knowledge of science and medical experience doesn’t blind her to God, but it makes her see Him more clearly, and that’s because she has made the distinction between knowledge and wisdom. She has enough knowledge to throw down with Amy Farrah Fowler, but still the wisdom to see how God works it all together. Back to Sheldon though, I don’t blame him for not believing. I don’t blame anyone for not believing; it’s hard stuff to swallow sometimes, and I’m fully aware of that. But if our own intelligence gets in the way of us seeing God in our lives, it becomes not just foolish, but dangerous.
That is why I think this passage is so important; Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” When we let go of our pride, ego, and self-reliance we are free to look at things objectively and see that there is more out there than just what we know. Bill Gates is one of the most intelligent men currently living in our world. I’m sure he could give any of our big bangers a run for their intellectual money. While Bill isn’t completely sold on placing his faith in Christ he doesn’t necessarily lean on his own understanding either. Bill Gates told Rolling Stone Magazine “the mystery and the beauty of the world is overwhelmingly amazing, and there's no scientific explanation of how it came about. To say that it was generated by random numbers, that does seem, you know, sort of an uncharitable view [laughs]. I think it makes sense to believe in God.” Bazinga!