Galileo Galilei, Marie Curie, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Thomas Edison, Aristotle, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins and Charles Darwin.
Harmless. Even funny. But then I saw.
Not the heresy of it, although there is that component.
It's the danger of it. Not because it's a joke, but because it isn't.
My former amusement dies to a choke, a strangle. I can't laugh at this because I live with it every day, as does every single smart person God made.
Suddenly, I get scared. Really scared.
This is the problem:
Smart people get used to being right.
They get used to it because they often are, or sound like it. They know the right arguments, the pertinent facts, the scientific proofs. Most of them don't mean to lie or to deceive. Smart people are sincerely trying to help others understand. They are teachers, doctors, researchers, philosophers, scientists....and pastors. They are the best of us, aren't they? We go to them when we want to learn, want to improve, want to get well.
But they have a problem. Us.
Because we believe smart people so completely, we have given them permission to believe themselves.
We have given them license to ignore their own capacity for self-deception.
We ignore, and let thus let them ignore, their own humanity.
Oh sure, we all say no one is perfect, that we're all only human, and screw up, but then don't universally apply what we acknowledge to be universal frailty.
We permit some people to be more perfect than others.
We permit some people to be like God.
And that is what this picture is really about.
Each of these men and women used their intelligence to figure out something important, and I am grateful for that.
But some one of them also believed, and seemed to have convinced some of us, that their ability to figure stuff out makes them so special as to discount their own vast capacity for being wrong.
And this makes the smartest of us also the most dangerous.
Listen to them, but don't trust them.
It is easy to deceive a really smart person when the deception involves their own perfection.
They will believe in their own rightness almost every time.
After all, they're smart, aren't they?
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.--Proverbs 14:8