Must you believe it?
The 12-year-old student was struggling to grasp the basic principles of algebra. His teacher presented the class with a seemingly straightforward
“Let x=y and let them both have the value of 1,” he began.
‘So far so good,’ thought the student.
After four lines of what looked like logical calculation, however, the teacher produced a startling result: “Therefore, 2=1!”
“Disprove that,” he challenged his bemused students.
With his very limited knowledge of algebra, the young student could not see how to disprove it. Every step in the calculation looked perfectly valid.
Should he, then, believe this strange conclusion? After all, his teacher was much more versed in mathematics than he was. Of course he should not!
‘I do not have to disprove this,’ he thought to himself. ‘Common sense tells me that this is absurd.’
) He knew
that neither his teacher nor any of his classmates were going to exchange two dollars for one!
In time the algebra student did find the flaw in the computation. Meanwhile, the experience taught him a valuable lesson. Even when someone with
vastly superior knowledge presents a carefully crafted and seemingly unassailable argument, a listener need not believe a foolish conclusion simply
because he cannot disprove it at the time. The student was actually following a very practical Bible principle found at 1 John 4:1—not to believe
too quickly everything you hear, even when it appears to come from an authoritative source.
This does not mean that you should stubbornly stick to preconceived ideas. It is a mistake to close your mind to information that could adjust
mistaken views. But neither should you be “quickly shaken from your reason” in the face of pressure from someone who claims to have great
knowledge or authority. (2 Thessalonians 2:2) The teacher, of course, was merely playing a trick on his students. Sometimes, though, things are not so
innocent. People can be extremely “cunning in contriving error.”—Ephesians 4:14; 2 Timothy 2:14, 23, 24.
Are experts always right?
However knowledgeable they may be, experts in any field may have conflicting ideas and shifting opinions. Take, for example, the ongoing debate in
medical science on something as basic as causes of illness. “The relative importance of nature versus nurture in illness forms the fabric of heated
debate among scientists,” writes a professor of medicine at Harvard University. Those in what has been called the determinist camp believe strongly
that our genes play a decisive role in our susceptibility to various diseases. Others, however, contend that the environment and life-style are the
major factors in human pathology. Both sides are quick to cite studies and statistics to support their case. Nonetheless, the debate continues.
The most renowned of thinkers have been proved wrong again and again, even though what they taught seemed at the time to be beyond dispute.
Philosopher Bertrand Russell described Aristotle as one of “the most influential of all philosophers.” Yet, Russell also pointed out that many of
Aristotle’s doctrines were “wholly false.” “Throughout modern times,” he wrote, “practically every advance in science, in logic, or in
philosophy has had to be made in the teeth of opposition from Aristotle’s disciples.”—History of Western Philosophy
“The Falsely Called ‘Knowledge’”
The early Christians likely met many who were disciples of the noted Greek philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Educated people of
the day regarded themselves as intellectually superior to most of the Christians. Not many of Jesus’ disciples were considered “wise in a fleshly
way.” (1 Corinthians 1:26) In fact, those schooled in the philosophies of the day thought that what the Christians believed was simply
“foolishness” or “sheer nonsense.”—1 Corinthians 1:23; Phillips
If you were among those early Christians, would you have been impressed by the persuasive arguments of the intellectual elite of the day or overawed
by their display of wisdom? (Colossians 2:4
) There would have been no reason for that,
according to the apostle Paul. He reminded Christians that Jehovah views “the wisdom of the wise men” and the “intelligence of the intellectual
men” of the day as foolish. (1 Corinthians 1:19) “What,” he asked, “have the philosopher, the writer and the critic of this world to show for
all their wisdom?” (1 Corinthians 1:20, Phillips
) Despite all their intellectual brilliance, the philosophers, the writers, and the critics
of Paul’s day had produced no real answer to mankind’s problems.
So Christians learned to avoid what the apostle Paul said were “the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’” (1 Timothy 6:20) In
some cases the wise men of their day were, in fact, “suppressing the truth” and ignoring the evidence around them that there is a God. “Although
asserting they were wise, they became foolish,” wrote the apostle Paul. Because they rejected the truth about God and his purpose, “they became
empty-headed in their reasonings and their unintelligent heart became darkened.”—Romans 1:18-22; Jeremiah 8:8, 9.
Those who assert that they are wise often come up with conclusions like “There is no God” or “The Bible is not to be trusted” or that
“Nothing is something.
” Such ideas are
just as foolish in God’s eyes as concluding that “2=1” or that “0=infinity.” (1 Corinthians 3:19) Whatever authority people may arrogate to
themselves, you do not have to accept their conclusions if they violate common sense. In the final analysis, the wise course is always to “let God
be found true, though every man be found a liar.”—Romans 3:4.
1 Corinthians 3:19
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, for it is written: “He catches the wise in their own cunning.”
Common Sense—Why So Uncommon?
Common sense seems to be so lacking in today’s world that an observant man once noted, ‘Common sense, in truth, is very uncommon.’
edit on 21-2-2019 by whereislogic because: (no reason given)