Socrates and The Oracle of Delphi

There’s a story about Socrates that I love. Let me quote what says: After his service in the war, Socrates devoted himself to his favorite pastime: the pursuit of truth.

His reputation as a philosopher, literally meaning ‘a lover of wisdom’, soon spread all over Athens and beyond. When told that the Oracle of Delphi had revealed to one of his friends that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens, he responded not by boasting or celebrating, but by trying to prove the Oracle wrong.

So Socrates decided he would try and find out if anyone knew what was truly worthwhile in life, because anyone who knew that would surely be wiser than him. He set about questioning everyone he could find, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Instead they all pretended to know something they clearly did not.

Finally he realized the Oracle might be right after all. He was the wisest man in Athens because he alone was prepared to admit his own ignorance rather than pretend to know something he did not.

Socrates thought that he couldn’t be the wisest man in Athens because he was conscious of how much he didn’t know. But it was that self awareness; the fact that he knew how much he didn’t know that actually made him wiser than the rest.

A couple years ago, I thought my knowledge of scriptures and the nature of God was vast and commanding. I had great confidence in my conclusions. As I worked through the program of my Master’s Degree, I began to discover that I was gaining more questions than answers.

I began to realize how much I didn’t understand, couldn’t explain, didn’t comprehend about God.

And I believe I have become much wiser than I once was. You’ll get a lot fewer definitive answers out of me these days. If you start a discussion about the nature of God, you’ll probably hear me asking lots of questions.

I’ve stopped pretending that I hold answers to the secrets of the universe, but I’d like to think I’ve started asking some of the right questions.