Understanding to understand

To be fair, this topic is extremely complex. Breaking down the two words “Eternal” and “Wisdom” does not make it any easier. We can easily look up each word in the dictionary and this would give us the simplest and most direct answer for each word’s definition, but not their true meaning. If we consider Eternity to be the ongoing of something ad infinitum, then we open many pandoras boxes. For example, if one believes in true eternity, then the Universe, and all the matter in it (whatever form it happens to eventually take), will exist forever.  However, there are many in science who believe in the Great Collapse, whereby the Universe is expanding today, and someday it will begin to contract on itself, going from a cool state to a hotter state as matter condenses, eventually forming a singularity before exploding again and starting the cycle all over.  We do see this pattern in nature in all things. The smallest cellular organisms are born, live, and die, the largest Galaxies are born, live, and die.  So where does that leave Eternity?  Can something be eternal when its existence relies on the very fabric of space and time itself?  

Now that the complex cosmological questions have been presented, let’s slow this thought process down a few light years and agree that Eternity as we know it is based on the laws of nature that we understand today.  In the time and space where humanity has existed, our understanding of eternity might be described as something that outlasts humanity itself.  In the context of our topic, Eternal Wisdom, this seems to make the most sense.  To those humans who believe in a Deity that existed before time and will exist afterward, it’s a safe bet that such an omnipotent being would also have everlasting, and obviously, eternal wisdom.  For the sake of this essay, however, let us open the discussion to less divine beings and if so, what does Eternal Wisdom look like for them? Is it something a human being can achieve?  Or might something else achieve such vast experience?  

Can something be eternal when its existence relies on the very fabric of space and time itself?

Scientia non providere experienta 

Knowledge does not provide experience. This is a critical concept, as the Latin above pronounces in the subhead. One can be extremely intelligent, imbued with vast amounts of information, but none of that leads to experience. There is a connection between the neurons in a brain and the outcome of a learned capability. Homo Sapiens evolved over time and have developed ever better abilities to acquire knowledge about a thing, and then over time, gain experience in a thing. This last bit about time is what defines one’s ability to gain Wisdom. True wisdom is being able to learn about a thing you have experienced to the degree that you are an expert in that thing, whatever it is.  

Take for example the art of negotiations.  A graduate from university with a shiny diploma and sparkling smile may have acquired very valuable knowledge about how to negotiate with other people, whether it be for legal purposes or capital trade. They may have even tried these methods in various classes and among groups. However, it is very likely that a well-seasoned used car dealer knows more about how to gain the advantage over their adversary in the art of negotiation without ever having set foot on a university campus. The reason is experience. The used car dealer has thousands of iterations of negotiating skill built into his or her brain. They can detect the subtle shift in tone, facial expressions, words being used, inflection of a voice, and they can size up a person and form a far better judgment in their minds at near instant speeds; whereas the student is oblivious to many if not all of these hidden pieces of information. Wisdom comes from experience, which is reinforced by understanding: “I have done a thing and I was successful, but I realized WHY I was successful and have implemented this learned thing.”  This process might continue many more times before true wisdom about a thing is gained.

True wisdom is being able to learn about a thing you have experienced to the degree that you are an expert in that thing, whatever it is.

Merging wisdom with eternity

As a student of history, it is impossible to approach the topic of Wisdom itself without invoking the Divine. This article is agnostic as we attempt to rationalize what Eternal Wisdom looks like without a Divine entity, if that is even possible. I believe we will see that it could be, within the scope of our framework outlined above, in our Universe, and with our laws of nature as we know them to be. Take an average human lifetime as a good example: when people are born, we humans take quite a while to develop autonomy, but from the very beginning we can observe quick and critical learned experiences, which eventually lead to expertise, but not necessarily Wisdom of a thing. “I know how to write my name with a pencil.  I learned this skill in my early years in school. Over time I became better at it, my letters became more legible, and my letters stayed even across the lined paper.” However, for most of us, the quality of our penmanship reached a plateau and there it remained. It stopped getting better, not necessarily for the lack of trying, or the lack of ability. We reached a level where our conscious mind inferred that enough experience had been gained for us to move forward without needing more practice. This is Wisdom: knowing when you know enough. You probably expected Wisdom to be more profound and Divine than a left-handed person with terrible penmanship, but consider that the most beautiful penmanship does not make one a better person, a better salesperson, than the person with poor penmanship. Some of the greatest minds had terrible penmanship. It was wisdom that allowed the person with poor penmanship to stop practicing and move on to more complex thoughts and ideas; that ability is wisdom.  

Expand this to thousands upon thousands of small experiences accumulated over time exponentially growing and creating new neural pathways in every human’s brain (and every animal brain for that matter, for wisdom is not unique to humanity), and we see the very beginning of Eternal Wisdom, which is carried over in our DNA and through generations from parent to child, from sibling to sibling and from person to person.  In a sense, whether we realize it or not, all of humanity is part of a giant collective of interconnected wisdom; we are contributing to a massive information system made up of 7.7 billion humans on planet Earth.  Wisdom is therefore expanding and developing at an exponential rate. The average human brain has 86 billion neurons and at the present time of writing this article there are 7.7 billion humans on planet Earth, which means as a collective species we have 6.62220 neurons working individually, but also loosely connected to advancing our collective wisdom. We are a massive biological computer and as long as humans exist, our knowledge will exist, as will our ever-growing body of wisdom. There is a very good discussion to be had about Humanities Wisdom at the current time of this article, and whether we have the wisdom to control the technological level we have progressed to. Such a topic is beyond the scope of this discussion and could be a future topic itself. Suffice it to say, we are in extreme danger as we have progressed very quickly in technology but lack the wisdom to understand and control it.  

In a sense, whether we realize it or not, all of humanity is part of a giant collective of interconnected wisdom.

Wisdom eternal

Reversing the title gives us a better context of what is possible.  Wisdom comes first, then the eternity of what that wisdom can become. Eternity before Wisdom implies some divine involvement, which is above humanity and above us; that was the concept our ancestors believed, from Moses to Jesus to Plato.  

As we humans continue to develop our collective consciousness and move beyond the information age to the next phase of intellectual and social evolution, we will see our wisdom increasing exponentially about all things. We humans have come a very long way. We have mastered fire, we have wisdom about the seasons and the crops, we know seafaring and we understand the human body in ways we never could before. We have wisdom, not just knowledge of these things.  Wisdom, which is passed on to new generations.  However, can it be eternal?  Is it possible for humanity’s collective wisdom to exist without humanity?  No single human has the wisdom of all humans, far from it, we barely have the wisdom of ourselves and our close associates much less the rest of the planet, but there might be a way.  If we imagine beyond the current information age, to a time where people’s minds are directly connected to a global network, sharing and accessing this information at the speed of thought, tremendous possibilities reveal themselves.  This very science is being worked on, tested, and thought about by countless scientists around the world.  It may be another hundred or two hundred years, but the day will come when all people will be connected at the neuronal level.  This connection essentially turns all of humanity into one giant computer, using the collective power to solve daily problems and more that we cannot even dream of.  In that framework, in that world, Wisdom can in fact be Eternal, because even if humanity might fail, it is very likely that we would be able to migrate our Wisdom to other mediums outside the biological, or at the very least some regenerative system, while not human, may still be biological acting like a silicon-based computer that we know today but biological. This is not fantasy. An example of this kind of science is “Dormio,” a project to build a device that could record and even guide people’s dreams. The end result was an ability to actually see rudimentary images of what people were dreaming, and even guide those dreams by implanting objects and features.

Eternity before Wisdom implies some divine involvement, which is above humanity and above us; that was the concept our ancestors believed, from Moses to Jesus to Plato.

We can take our wisdom to the stars. We can explore the universe and everything in it. We can be eternal.

In the image of God, we become divine

While trying to remain agnostic, most cultures believe that humanity was divinely created in the image of its creator, that our uniqueness was provided to us and is that which separates us from all other living creatures.  Suppose for a moment that such a divine entity does in fact exist, that the Universe as we know it, or the Multiverse, is not the madness we think (pun intended), and has an overarching order to the chaos, the grand birth, life and death of all things.  In this case, and in its own image, perhaps Humanity may exist in a way that allows us to take our Wisdom with us and keep that Wisdom eternally.  As we mentioned earlier, we are as a whole, one very large biological computer.  We know that DNA is a storage medium for information, and we know that this information is passed on to our progeny.  At the dawn of the 21st century, we see ourselves at the pinnacle of technological sophistication.  We have developed the computer, the information age, global networks, and immediate information. We have explored neural networks and modeled the human brain.  We are, however, infants.  Barely one hundred years ago, the horse was still a common mode of transportation for most of the world, airplanes were still a new thing, and computers were more idea than reality.  Let’s imagine for a moment, Humanity of the future, perhaps the 23rd century.  By that time, it is likely that we will have left our silicon, copper wire, technology and moved on to different mediums.  What if that medium were biological and self-healing, what might that look like?  It might look very much like a human being of today, our carbon-based bodies today do not repair themselves well over time, we age and oxidize and ultimately our senescent cells grow old and take up more and more of our bodies, and we die. Quite literally, we succumb to time and usage. However, it may not end up like this in the future.  We might very well see a time when humanity’s understanding of biological systems, and our ability to manipulate those systems at will, can provide us with unlimited repair, unlimited change and modification to endure the rigors of space travel, and in a sense time travel as well, as we use our knowledge of chemistry and biology to enhance the Homo Sapiens of today into an Eternal version of tomorrow.  Sounds like hogwash, but we can see the seeds of this capability in our research today.  Here is a short list of advanced research we are doing today to explain what I mean. We have the building blocks for nano technology, both silicon-based and biological-based “robots” that could eventually repair our bodies at the molecular level.  Just like in the movies, you get a cut, it heals very quickly as these internal bots repair the damage using resources from your body.

We can take our wisdom to the stars. We can explore the universe and everything in it. We can be eternal.

We have used DNA to store entire swaths of data; massive volumes have been stored on a single strand of DNA because DNA is something of a computer.

We are learning to map the human brain and have implanted false memories into the human brain; we have visualized images from dream states on our silicon-based computers.  We can take brain data and move it elsewhere.

These and many more advanced research topics are in progress now, and provide us with just a glimpse of the potential that humanity might achieve in the 23rd century.  Once we master the ability to repair our bodies, migrate and manipulate biological-based data at will, communicate and leverage those advancements for the collective good, humanity will indeed become as Eternal as the Universes it inhabits.  We will have reached a level of consciousness where we will have truly achieved Eternal Wisdom.  In the Old Testament, when God realized that Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, He said,  “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” (Gen. 3:22-23).  To bring us full circle, Wisdom Eternal can only be gained by a group and a collective of learned experiences over time, passed from generation to generation until such time as we have reached a state of being where we are in fact creating the Tree of Life. It is up to you and I, and all of Humanity to pass the test, to overcome the trials before us, by using our collective wisdom to become Eternally Wise.