1519 ended the life of one who was considered the ideal of a “Renaissance Man,” Leonardo da Vinci. He is known as an inventor and artist, but his interests span mathematics, engineering, history and literature. In contrast to our modern understanding of humanism, renaissance humanism had the goal of developing citizens who were able to knowledgeably and effectively engage with their society. This engagement was not in the absence of religion as promoted by secular humanism, but with a broader understanding of the wisdom of God in all areas of life.
So what does this look like today? What does it take to be a well-rounded, educated person? Is it through the three R's: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic? Is it the components of a classical education, the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy)? Is it what has been promoted as a liberal arts education? Regardless of one’s opinion, if God’s definition of what it means to be human is neglected, the education will be incomplete.
The Bible is our source of special revelation about God and it takes a central role in defining what it means to be human. But how does this play out in every area of one's life? It is easy to fall for the accepted wisdom that religious beliefs and participation in society should be kept separate. Religion is private and provides meaning, but participation in the physical universe is public and should be defined by the shared knowledge and experiences of mankind, primarily through the pursuit of science. However, this false dichotomy leads to a wrong perspective on who we are and how we should interact with the world around us.
In order to reclaim wisdom and apply it to the public pursuits of mankind one needs to start with creation. In the first chapters of Genesis theological concepts are established that speak to every area of life. This foundation applies not only to the spiritual nature of mankind, but also to the physical. It affects how we view science, ethics, history and the humanities. Educating and developing the whole person can happen by applying the wisdom provided by God beginning first with creation.