It’s an interesting question –what is the origin of the information that leads to knowledge and understanding? Once we acquire it, does that make us wise? Is one’s worldview a function of thinking about that information in a way that shapes ones movement through life? It seems logical that information leads to knowledge which may result in understanding and, ultimately, wisdom. Let’s explore these elements in more detail.
Information is everywhere. We cannot open our eyes without being bombarded with it. So we know that it exists – but where did it come from and to what end will it be used? In the short term, information comes from the mind of one who first had the thought and then shared it with others. That new thought is likely some combination of previous information absorbed in the mind of a person which, with time, becomes part of that person, whether conscious or subconscious. The larger issue is the origin of “original” thoughts and ideas, from which “new” thoughts are generated. If one thinks back to the beginning, those original thoughts must come from the mind of the Creator, shared with us through His revelations. For example, look at an apple tree – there it is – that’s information.
Though information can be observed or sensed, it is not necessarily absorbed or processed by the mind (Job 38:2) into knowledge. Personal knowledge, or one’s “knowledge pie”, is two of the three portions of the pie. In a very tiny slice are the things we know. In a larger, but still very small slice are the things we know that we don’t know. The huge, remainder of the pie consists of the things we don’t know that we don’t know. The accumulation and cataloguing of knowledge is what libraries are all about. However, they are of no value unless someone checks them out. Continuing the above example, the apple tree has beautiful blossoms that can produce apples.
This is the action step – knowledge is transformed into an awareness of that which can be used or applied in some relevant circumstance. It is achieving the potential for the transition of knowledge into some action(s). Understanding is reading the books in the library with the expectation of some benefit. In our example of the apple tree, understanding is equivalent to one properly feeding, watering and cultivating the tree such that it will very likely produce apples.
The “proper” outcome of understanding is wisdom. Here is where your worldview becomes important – it’s all about assessing what is proper. Godly wisdom, in my view, is the descriptor of the best process for the transformation of information into action. We gain some insight into the origin of such wisdom, when the Creator, speaking rhetorically to Job, states, “Who endowed the heart with wisdom, or gave understanding to the mind.” Some of the attributes of this wisdom are given in James 3:17. God has shared His wisdom with us thru the revelation of His Word, the Holy Spirit and that which can be seen directly from His creation. To complete our example, cutting down the apple tree for firewood has a benefit, but is unwise. Selling some of the apples to produce income to buy necessities, including fuel for heat, plant more trees, add employees and fund the needs of the poor (read more in “Godonomics”) exudes wisdom.