Fear of God is Not the Beginning of Wisdom


“The fear of God is not the beginning of wisdom. The fear of God is the death of wisdom. Skepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom.” -Clarence Darrow, Why I Am an Agnostic and Other Essays

I was always taught that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. Now I no longer believe that’s true. How do we find true wisdom? By exploring the world around us, learning as much as we can about everything, gaining life experiences, and then thinking carefully about our actions and beliefs so we can make the wisest decisions possible for ourselves and those around us. THAT is true wisdom, and that is why we tend to become more wise as we age- we have more knowledge and life experience.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Translated: “You can’t begin to become wise unless you are afraid of our God.” Fear, according to many Christians, is essential to becoming a wise person. When did fear become a good method for learning? How is this an effective teaching method? Why should we have to fear our teacher?

Wisdom is defined as “…the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.” So how does being afraid of a deity help us in aquiring wisdom? Surely an all powerful, all knowing deity would not expect us to rely on fear to learn.

You don’t have to fear a god to become wise, and in fact I would argue that fear of God may make you less wise because you’ll be less likely to question the potentially harmful teachings of your religion if you’re constantly living in fear of a deity. You can be wise, kind, moral, and loving without ever believing in any gods or deities.


No trolling, please! Genuine dialogue for the purpose of mutual understanding is appreciated; debates are not. General comments are welcome.

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