Always Trust Really Smart People


NOT! But let me explain…

This week in my Middle Ages History class I studied about the Bubonic Plague in the early 14th Century. It was THEE WORST natural disaster in Western history (perhaps human history), claiming the lives of one-third to one-half of Europe’s population, or 35 million people in three years. No one knew exactly how it was transmitted, but they suspected it spread from person to person, perhaps even by speaking to an infected person or having any contact with them. Others thought the Jews contaminated the community water source because the Jews weren’t getting the plague like others. This typical ignorance led to massive slaughtering and burning of thousands of innocent Jews.

So infectious was the plague that there were eerie reports of “death ships” drifting aimlessly at sea, where every crew member had died on board. When the ships were found, the only signs of life were the voracious rats feasting on dead corpses and cargo.

Once a person fell ill to the horrible symptoms (massive boils in the lymph nodes in the thighs and upper arms, excruciating pain, and vomiting blood), it was lights out for that person in a matter of three short days.

During that time, the most brilliant scientists and doctors formulated causes and cures for the plague—many of them godly or religious men. Some thought it was a punishment from God or the start of the “tribulation.” Those at the medical school at the University of Paris studied the epidemic and “confidently reported to King Philip VI that it was the result of an unfortunate alignment of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in the night sky…” (Worlds of Medieval Europe, 2002). Their recommendations for treatment of the disease were to boil blind, de-limbed puppies and bathe in the water four hours after every meal. Oh yeah, also they should avoid sleeping during daylight, exercise, and fish. Fat people should sit in the sun. Olive oil might kill them, so definitely stay away from that. Use regular enemas, and realize that sexual intercourse with women is lethal (narrows the options :D).

As an aside, it was later discovered that the bubonic plague was transmitted by flea bites and could not be transferred from person to person through casual contact.

I find it ironic how even the most brilliant and learned people in all societies can be so far off reality in their dogmatic beliefs. When you think of all we know scientifically now, yet how in the knowing we have realized we have infinitely more to learn, we hopefully begin to realize that it is not good to be too dogmatic about anything.

I learned in microbiology, for instance, that since the discovery of the high powered (electron) microscopes in the last hundred years, it’s been estimated that only 2% of the microbes that make up our world have even been identified and a very small percentage of those—like only 2%!—can even be studied in a lab (kept alive). I don’t exactly know how they know that they’ve only identified 2% but that’s why I’m not a scientist :D.

All this is to say that I sometimes get criticized by some people for writing a book that takes on the views of many smart and scholarly folks down through centuries. Supposedly these smart folks KNOW the truth, and they have arrived at all we need to know in order to know everything.

I don’t buy it, and neither should you.

Bible scholars, pastors, and theologians, like scientists, have possibly identified 2% (although even this high of a number is doubtful) of what Scriptures are really about and if they dogmatically explain everything to you as if they know what most of it’s about, they are either very blind and/or very misled, and certainly very arrogant. And if you believe them without looking more into yourself, then I propose that you have been misled along with them. We have bought into the lie that we fully understand the cause and the cure.

On what do I base such outlandish claims? Listen, I have an entire 200-page book sitting on my shelf, written by a Hebrew scholar, exploring all the inherent and layered meanings in the original language text of GENESIS 1:1 (yes, that’s one verse)! Even then the author claims that he has only scratched the surface after 200 exciting, thought-provoking pages. Most folks don’t even realize just how complex the Hebrew language is, but the Jews claim (and I believe them) that the whole of the Torah can be found in every single verse of the Torah! How is this possible? Maybe you will need to do some research on the amazing layers of the Hebrew characters and language.

As I mature in life, I realize that a greater understanding of what can be known simply leads to a greater understanding of what is not known.

I hope you will take this to heart. The Scriptures are far deeper and more complex than you and I have ever imagined possible, primarily because we listened to really smart people, assuming they told us all we needed to know, and stopped searching for understanding. The Scriptures are living and active. They unfold in layers of understanding through time. Like our amazingly crafted and complex universe, their depths are unplumbable, at least in this age of limited understanding.

And I might add, it is not always smart people who have the greatest understanding about things, it is the children who dare to question and to think for themselves. Let us become like children and learn to question, wonder, and set about discovery.

“At that very time [Jesus] rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, ‘I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight’” (Luke 10:21).

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