Make Good Use of Your Curiosity
“Man is a being who asks questions. From the time we are born we begin to ask questions . . . It might even be said that mankind’s history is the history of questions and answers that we men have formulated.”—Octavio Paz, Mexican poet.
WHAT inspires a chef to create a new recipe? What impels an explorer to venture to faraway places? What makes a child ask so many questions? More often than not, it is curiosity.
What about you? Do new ideas or a quest for answers to intriguing questions excite your curiosity? For example, Where does life come from? Why are we here? Does God exist? From childhood, many of us are compelled by curiosity to ask such questions as these and to find out the whys and wherefores of things. When an idea fascinates us, we strive to find out all we can about it. Thus curiosity can lead to many wonderful results. However, it can also lead to problems, even disasters.
Caution and Balance Needed
Many have heard in one form or another the popular saying: Curiosity killed the cat. Yes, if followed improperly, curiosity can be dangerous. For instance, out of curiosity a child might touch a hot stove, with disastrous consequences. On the other hand, an inquiring nature can motivate us to deepen our knowledge, to get to the bottom of things. But would it be wise to pursue just any interest that may excite our curiosity?
Obviously, there is knowledge that is not desirable because it is harmful. Curiosity about pornography, the occult, or teachings of cults or extremist groups can easily endanger our well-being. In these and other areas, we would do well to imitate the Hebrew psalmist who prayed: “Make my eyes pass on from seeing what is worthless.”—Psalm 119:37.
Then there is knowledge that may not be harmful in itself but is actually frivolous and unnecessary. For example, what benefit is there in knowing all about the private life of movie stars or celebrities, in learning the statistics of every sports team and player, or in knowing all about the latest gadgets or the newest models of cars? For most people, being “experts” in these subjects does not lead to anything beneficial.
A Motivating Example
Curiosity, of course, has its positive side. Consider the case of Alexander von Humboldt, the 19th-century German naturalist and explorer after whom the Humboldt Current, off the west coast of South America, was named.
At one point in his life, Humboldt said: “From my earliest youth I had felt an ardent desire to travel into distant regions, which Europeans had seldom visited.” This desire arose, he said, when he felt “an irresistible attraction in the impetuous agitations of the mind.” At the age of 29, he traveled to Central and South America on an expedition that lasted five years. With the information that he collected, he compiled a 30-volume chronicle of his travels.
Everything attracted Humboldt’s attention—the temperature of the ocean, the fish that lived in it, the plants he found in his path. He climbed mountains, explored rivers, and sailed the oceans. Humboldt’s research laid the foundation in several fields of modern science. It all began with his intense curiosity, and his insatiable desire for knowledge accompanied him throughout his life. In the words of American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Humboldt was one of those wonders . . . who appear from time to time, as if to show us the possibilities of the human mind, the force and the range of the faculties.”
A Field Worth Investigating
Of course, very few of us have the circumstances to become world explorers or to make contributions to established sciences. There is, however, one field of knowledge in which we can apply our mental faculties and reap rewards far greater than from any other endeavor. Jesus Christ pointed to this endeavor in prayer to his heavenly Father: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
Knowledge of the true God, whose name is Jehovah, and of his Son, Jesus Christ, can reward an inquiring mind in ways that no other information can. Recall the questions about life mentioned at the beginning of this article. To them we can add: Why is there so much suffering in the world? Will the earth be ruined, even destroyed, by men? And what will God do to ensure that mankind will not suffer such an outcome? Finding answers to these questions will do more than satisfy our curiosity. As Jesus put it, “this means everlasting life.” Why can we be sure of that?
The Bible is the inspired Word of God. Regarding it, the Christian apostle Paul wrote: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”—2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
Just think—the apostle said that the Bible provides knowledge that can equip or enable us to do all that is good. It can help us to look at things from God’s point of view. And we know that God’s knowledge and wisdom are far above that of anyone else. The prophet Isaiah was inspired to record this profound statement by God: “‘The thoughts of you people are not my thoughts, nor are my ways your ways,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”—Isaiah 55:8, 9.
Would you like to know about God’s lofty ways and thoughts? Does your curiosity impel you to find out what God’s Word, the Bible, has to say about God’s ways and thoughts? Are you eager to learn what God will do to end all suffering and what good he has in store for obedient mankind? The Bible extends this invitation to you: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good, O you people; happy is the able-bodied man that takes refuge in him.”—Psalm 34:8.
The powerful truths of God’s Word can have an impact on a sincere heart much as light can have on a person who sees for the first time. The apostle Paul was moved to declare: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are!” (Romans 11:33) The truth is that it will take an eternity for us to come to appreciate fully the riches of God’s knowledge and wisdom. Before us is the thrilling prospect of never becoming bored, of always discovering something new.
Keep It Alive!
True, most of us will never become famous explorers or inventors. And perhaps we will never in an average lifetime come to understand everything that we would like to understand. Still, do not allow the capacity to be curious to go dormant. Keep alive the thirst for knowledge that God has so lovingly created in us.
Make good use of this wonderful gift from God, and develop an accurate understanding of God’s inspired Word, the Bible. If you do, you will find meaning and joy in life now, and you can look forward to doing so throughout all eternity. “Everything [God] has made pretty in its time,” says the Bible. “Even time indefinite he has put in their heart, that mankind may never find out the work that the true God has made from the start to the finish.”—Ecclesiastes 3:11.
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Are You Aware That . . .
• Centuries before the shape of the earth was indicated by Columbus and Magellan, the Bible stated that this planet is not flat but spherical?—Isaiah 40:22.
• Long before astronauts had a glimpse of the earth hanging in empty space, the Bible pointed out that it is suspended upon nothing?—Job 26:7.
• At least 2,500 years before English physician William Harvey discovered the circulatory system in the human body, the Bible referred to the heart as a fountain, or source, of life?—Proverbs 4:23.
• Some 3,000 years ago, the Bible described in simple terms the earth’s water cycle as part of the ecosystem that makes life on earth possible?—Ecclesiastes 1:7.
Is it not amazing that these scientific facts were touched on in the Bible long before humans came to understand or discover them? Actually, in it, there is a treasure trove of information vital to life, just waiting for you to discover.
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Alexander von Humboldt