Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Fool Who Follows Him...

Take a close look. I thought this was clever at first. The Last Supper, but rather than Christ and His disciples, well-known scientists-- 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 do. 
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. 

Look again. 
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


  1. Wow. Terrific post! And you are on the same path I'm starting out on...
    I took an email break that led me over here, midway though writing the first of two blog posts on how trust and obedience mesh. The one I'm half done with today is about trusting and obeying God--and our reluctance to do that--because we question it, because we don't trust Him enough. The follow-up post is to warn against trusting others in place of Him! Like those above. Great (and sobering) thoughts here.

    1. You are right, Sylvia. Trust and obedience go hand in hand, although obedience only will do in a pinch...
      As for those we follow and revere in God's place, the most heart-breaking of them all is when we elevate our pastors to that position...and when they encourage us to do it. So hard.

    2. Amen to that, Mrs. P. I've seen the sad consequences of just what you are talking about.

    3. As have I Sylvia. Still trying to figure that all out. Thinking that we have stuck our poor pastors with a church model Christ never intended and almost certainly dooms them to failure and disappointment.

  2. Such, such truth here! We each do have a "vast capacity for being wrong" - and there's such danger in following other humans too closely! We must constantly check ourselves to ensure that we are following God and not what men tell us about Him. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. Such a sobering post! (Sylvia recommended I read it.) I might add that some of us may not even be that smart, but have the gift of persuasion. Again, something to be prudent in. All of our gifts must be continually surrendered to the Lord. Blessed are the meek...