We Think We’re So Smart

We think we’re so smart. Everyone is an expert on something, and we’re eager to share our expertise. (I’m no exception—witness my two blogs!)

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” —Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1895.

I’ve been reading Ephesians lately, and this morning one verse popped out at me. Paul wrote, “Be completely humble….” (Eph. 4:2). Yeah, right.

“If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.” —W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954.

How many truly humble people do you know? (I could brag about my humility, I suppose.) And it isn’t just individuals. Our society at large has a problem in this area. Read the newspapers, check your news feeds online, and everyone is stating their dubious facts with unmerited confidence.

Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” —Pierre Pachet, British surgeon and Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

I’m not sure which are worse, some politicians or some scientists. Both claim to have insider knowledge. Both get upset when questioned about their facts. (I realize that there are many ethical scientists out there, more than willing to subject their results to peer review and further research. I’m not talking about them.)

“Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives, but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous.” —Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, then soon-to-be British Prime Minister, 1939.

Perhaps a lot of our hubris stems from our lack of understanding when it comes to God. Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God, not us. Sometimes, we confuse the two.

“The world will be ‘…11 degrees colder in the year 2000 (this is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age).’” —Kenneth Watt, speaking at Swarthmore University, April 19, 1970.

Even in areas where we consider ourselves to be experts, it’s good to remember that God knows a whole lot more than we do. We would do well to humble ourselves and submit to His superiority. Ask His advice. Follow through on His suggestions. “Lean not on [our] own understanding” (Prov. 3:5-6).

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”Decca Recording Co., rejecting The Beatles, 1962.

Next time you hear someone insisting that thus-and-so is absolutely correct, take it with a grain of skepticism.

Sci-fi writer and journo Bruce Sterling told the NY Times in 2007 that “using Twitter for literate communication is about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite The Iliad.”

I guess they had to get one right.

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