Einstein, IQ, Emotional Intelligence and the Holy Spirit

Recently I’ve been reading Walter Isaacson’s fascinating biography of Albert Einstein: His Life and Universe. Isaacson takes his readers all the way through Einstein’s life, from his childhood in Germany to his rejection of German citizenship to become Swiss and on to his flight from Germany to the United States. He also discusses in non-technical terms the amazing contributions Einstein made to theoretical physics in the twentieth century and beyond.

Einstein is the icon for genius throughout the world. Few people during the last century have made as great an impact on human thought as he. Not only did he change the way scientists view the physical world, but his discovery of relativity and his contributions to quantum mechanics — along with several other notables — have changed the way we look at the world around us. These discoveries have caused us to question whether there is a God at all and, indeed, if there are any constants in the universe.

Having said that, you may be wondering what in all the world I’m talking about and I wouldn’t blame you. We both might be able to quote his famous formula E=MC2, but that doesn’t mean we understand it. Take comfort. Even the most renowned scientists of the 21st century are still struggling to pull all these discoveries together into some complete theory. Meanwhile, let’s take a short look at this thing called genius. What is it, after all? And how should we evaluate it?

Normal intelligence quotients range from 85 to 115. According to these studies, maybe 1{44f93193654ee8e357ba54f38b49cfc3563b7d623a8103b2d4e387aa181f7fed} of the people in the world have an IQ above 135. These figures are based upon a scale first developed in France by psychologist Alfred Binet and his collaborator physician Theodore Simon. Since then, the test has been refined again and again to give us the current Stanford-Binet 5. The test measures five factors: Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, and Working Memory. Each of these factors is tested in two separate domains, verbal and nonverbal.

The results of these tests have been severely and strongly criticized. Notable is the deceased Stephen Jay Gould’s book The Mismeasure of Man. Such tests, he writes, have been used to promote racial bias. He further challenges the premise that heredity influences intelligence.

By the way, Philosopher Bertrand Russell (died 1970) estimated Einstein’s IQ at just over 160, far below a true super-genius like himself with at least a 180 IQ.

But wait, we’re only getting started. Since the 1940s psychologists talked about factors other than intelligence, but it wasn’t until 1995 that the term “emotional intelligence” became a buzz word. That was when Daniel Goleman published his book Emotional Intelligence–Why it can matter more than IQ. In his book Goleman argues that idolizing IQ is far too narrow a way to look at humans. He defines emotional intelligence in terms of self-awareness, altruism, personal motivation, empathy and the ability to love and be loved. Emotional intelligence, writes Goleman, is not fixed at birth. It can be developed.

Wow! When I first came across that book I realized that this is precisely what the Bible tells us the Holy Spirit does in the life of believers. The Apostle Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Galatians 5:22-26).

When I read Einstein’s biography I came to realize that although he may have been extremely intelligent from an intellectual viewpoint–he was a genius after all–he still had a long ways to go when it came to emotional intelligence. Read the book. You may enjoy it. Meanwhile, I suggest that you also read and meditate further on the Apostle Paul’s counsel: “live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16). ???

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