On a recent episode of Real Time, Bill Maher began his concluding monologue of New Rules by saying: “Before we tackle any of our daunting specific problems here in America, we have to figure out how a country can solve any problem if so many of its people are intractably, astoundingly, and mind-numbingly stupid.”
Maher went on to show a video produced by a TikTok site called “Project Better” where they asked people on the street the following questions:
Who was the first person to land on the sun? The answer given was Lance Armstrong.
What is the biggest city in the world? “Europe” and “Asia” topped the list.
If you were born in 2021, how old would you be? “21”, the 20-something girl answered.
What country is Venice, Italy located in? “Paris?”, the woman studying to be a teacher answered.
Maher’s point in showing these examples wasn’t simply to mock people’s lack of knowledge, but rather show that the shortage of brain power today has very practical and devastating implications. Unlearned and unwise people make all sorts of bad decisions that boomerang back not only on them but on everyone else as well.
Put another way: fools are just killing us today.
God’s view of a fool
The term “fool” is found nearly 200 times in Scripture, but nowhere is it found more than in the book of Proverbs (76 mentions). The best Hebrew lexicon (HAL — The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by Koehler and Baumgartner) defines “fool” as “stupid in practical things; insolent in religion.”
The writers of Proverbs start describing the nature of a fool in chapter 1 and don’t stop until chapter 30, just one chapter shy of the book’s total of 31. Many examples given in the book highlight the real-world damage fools cause.
For instance, Proverbs 14:1 says: “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” Might this be applicable to something today?
Let’s take our economy that was functioning quite well several years ago, but now looks like it’s been hit by a category 5 hurricane. Question: what happens when you inflate the money supply through, I don’t know, printing and giving away lots of money so that its percentage increase exceeds that of economic growth? Answer: inflation, as the most basic economic textbooks will tell you.
Now deliberately hobble the supply side through unreasonable business shutdowns, which exacerbates the situation so a recession or stagflation is unavoidable. Rather than building our house up, the country’s current leadership has been a fool and torn things down with its own hands. And then, of course, they lie about the cause.
Or how about Proverbs 18:2 that says: “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.” A good example of this is the premature and incoherent rush to green energy and electric vehicles, which is done in a manner that reflects no understanding of how to do things right.
Instead, we have an ideologically driven agenda that doesn’t match current reality and won’t acknowledge that the basic tech and infrastructure requirements are nowhere near ready to allow for the dismantling of our current energy platforms. As proof, witness a recent Wall Street Journal article by Rachel Wolfe who rented an electric car for a four-day road trip from New Orleans to Chicago and says she spent more time charging the vehicle than sleeping.
Throughout His Word, God inextricably links morality and the knowledge of Him to wisdom and solid decision-making. Maybe this is why, in their Hebrew lexicon, Koehler and Baumgartner describe a fool as “insolent in religion.” It’s also likely why Proverbs 10:23 says, “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool.”
Like American evangelist Dwight Moody said, if you take a godless man who is stealing nuts and bolts from your railroad and send him to college, he’ll come back educated and then steal the whole railway. A fool can know plenty of facts but still be a moral disaster.
So, while Bill Maher is correct in his conclusions about bad results arising from people’s lack of knowledge, being someone who rejects God, he doesn’t realize that education alone won’t cure what ails our country. We need a moral remedy that only comes from above.
We’re all familiar with the verse from the Old Testament book of Hosea that says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (4:6). But what’s not as well-known are the preceding verses that describe a people who don’t know God and His design for a well-functioning society:
“Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
There is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish” (vv. 1-3).
Replace “Israel” with “America” in verse one and, although it was written thousands of years ago, it perfectly depicts what we have in 2022.
So, what do we do? My suggestions: 1. Return the skill of critical thinking to the top of the educational food chain; 2. Refuse the cancel culture anarchists who attempt to make sure their team is the only one on the communications playing field; 3. Remember that what a culture knows and believes determines how it behaves, and most importantly, 4. Evangelize so that more people have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).
Thinking that the first person to land on the sun is the guy who won the Tour de France seven times is dumb for sure, but that pales in comparison to people who say in their heart “there is no God” and stubbornly live in a way that’s contrary to His design. That’s the true definition of a fool (Ps. 14:1).
And fools are just killing us today.
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.