God In Creating Man Overestimated His Ability Meaning Explained

Some of you might ask what is all these God overestimated man’s ability meaning?

Well, it is about the meaning of this popular epigram credited to Oscar Wilde:

I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat over-estimated his ability.

Before I delve into the meaning, let me highlight there is a confusion with this quote.

The pronoun “his“.

It is spelt in both “his” and “His” in different books.

This quote is in fact taken from the 1949 book titled “Oscar Wilde And The Black Douglas

It was written by Francis Archibald Kelhead Douglas, 11th Marquess of Queensberry, together with author Percy Colson.

Francis Douglas was the nephew of Lord Alfred Douglas, the lover of Oscar Wilde.

(Oscar Wilde And The Black Douglas By The Marquess Of Queensberry In Collaboration With Percy Colson, London: Hutchinson & Co. Ltd, 1949, Ch. II: Oscar Wilde’s Parentage And Youth, P. 20) source

Note: There is a typo error in the Google Book, as it stated Francis Archibald Kelhead Douglas Queensberry as the 10th Marquis.

It should be the 11th Marquis.

The quote as published on page 20 is:

I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat over-estimated his ability.

The letter ‘h‘ of “his” printed in this book is in small capital, so it means man’s ability.

This quote is reproduced in another book “The Epigrams Of Oscar Wilde” as:

I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated His ability.

(The Epigrams Of Oscar Wilde, Edited By Alvin Redman, With An Introduction By Vyvyan Holland, London: Alvin Redman Ltd., 1962, I. Men, P. 31) source

In this book, the letter ‘H‘ is printed in capital letter, so it means God’s ability.

Both versions are extensively used in the digital and physical publications.

God overestimated man’s ability meaning

Now, let’s find out, whether is it God overestimated man’s ability or God overestimated His own ability, as uttered by Oscar Wilde.

To do that, we need to refer to the passage where this quote is found.

Here is the snippet of the passage on page 20:

“Never try to pull down public monuments such as the Albert Memorial and the Church. You are sure to be damaged by the falling masonry.” But the Creator as an artist did not meet with his whole-hearted admiration. “I sometimes think that God in creating man, somewhat over-estimated his ability,” he remarked to a friend.

Should there be no typo error in this original source, then I think Wilde meant man’s ability.

But anyway, it doesn’t really matter.

It is because this line is just a remark, or a hearsay.

As you can see from snippet above, it was transcribed from a purported remark by Oscar Wilde.

The authenticity of this so-called Oscar Wilde quote is yet to be verified.

God Overestimated Man’s Ability Meaning

Here is my interpretation of the quote:

The word overestimated means estimate (something) to be better, larger, or more important than it really is.

It can mean overrated or over-expected.

Ability is capability, potential or skill.

We can rephrase it as:

I occasionally think that when God created human being, somehow God has over-expected human ability or potential.

I think what Wilde meant is the capability of humans does not reach to the level, what God had expected it to be.

We turn out not to be as good or smart, as what God had intended us to be, so to speak.

And it is God’s erroneous estimation.

As we are all so-called God’s creations, you can say, alas, man’s limited potential or our weaknesses is God’s blunder.

Remember, this Oscar Wilde‘s remark is just a tongue-in-cheek aphorism.

This quotation is not meant to be rude or offensive to any religion.

That’s why Wilde cheekily or aptly threw in the phrase “I think” and the adverb “somewhat” within the quote.

By the way, even though this epigram is ascribed to Oscar Wilde, it cannot be officially verified as true or authentic.

It is just a casual witty comment allegedly made by Wilde as mentioned in the book “Oscar Wilde And The Black Douglas“.

Talking about true, these two quotes are certainly by Anglo-Irish Victorian playwright Oscar Wilde:

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Critic As Artist By Oscar Wilde, A Dialogue, Part II) source

(The quote is also found in: Intentions: The decay Of Lying, Pen, Pencil And Poison, The Critic As Artist, The Truth Of Masks By Oscar Wilde, New York: Brentano’s, 1905, The Critic As Artist, A Dialogue, Part II, P.185) source

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible…” – Oscar Wilde

(The picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Hamilton, Kent And Co. Ltd, 1913, Chapter II, P. 29) source

(The quote is also found here.)