I had an interesting discussion with a friend some time ago. He is trained and makes his living in the biological sciences. We discussed a variety of topics related to his discipline—Charles Darwin, natural selection, evolution, Intelligent Design and the book of Genesis.
I told him that one of the things that bothers me—a pet peeve, to be honest—is the way in which people comment upon and dismiss out of hand concepts about which they know little or nothing. Most of the people I know who eschew anything remotely connected to Charles Darwin and evolution have probably never read On The Origin of Species. If you mentioned the word “beagle” to them in context of a discussion about Darwin, they’d think you were talking about a dog rather than a ship.
Disclaimer: I’ve never read On the Origin of Species, though I’d like to in order to hear Darwin on his own merits. And for my purposes here, I’m not even discussing my own personal beliefs about how the universe came to be.
What I’m after is giving people a fair hearing on every matter rather than going on hearsay. This leads to libel, slander and all sorts of misunderstanding. And it gives ignorance a platform it doesn’t deserve.
When I attended seminary years ago, one of the strengths of the program in which I was enrolled was its insistence on reading primary sources. In other words, we got our information from the horse’s mouth, rather than from those who kept—or thought they kept—the horses. For example, we didn’t read an analysis about Thomas Aquinas; we read Aquinas. You encounter trouble rapidly when you get your information second-, third-, or fourth-hand.
- How much do you know about Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Richard Nixon from a) their own writings, b) their public lives and service, c) their respective voting and executive records, and d) their tax returns? You get this from going to the source. And that source is their own lives, their tax returns, public records and writings, not necessarily mainstream media.
- Where, in the Scriptures, is the verse “God helps those who help themselves?”
- Was the Peter, Paul & Mary song “Puff the Magic Dragon,” written by Peter Yarrow, about drugs? (You will be surprised!)
These are some teasers. You can find your own. You must do your homework–you can’t outsmart the work. But whatever you do, have the integrity to get your information first-hand. From the principals themselves, not their defenders or critics.
That is, from the horse’s mouth.