WHY THE FLAT EARTH SOCIETY MATTERS

Image: Pastor Dean Odle

By: Matthew Archbold

In an age when everyone seems to possess his own ‘truth’, there is little wisdom to be found.

On election night last November, I took great joy in seeing the glib so-called “experts” look increasingly surprised (horrified?) that everything they thought they knew was proven wrong on the most widely watched event of the year. People put up YouTube videos of it, Facebooked about it, and emailed it to each other. That reaction has many experts fretting about the lack of respect being shown to experts.

In fact, there’s a book called The Death of Experts about just that. A few days ago I read a piece by Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame about “The Suicide of Experts.” Reynold’s point is that the “experts” haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory the past few decades. To be honest, I’m a fan of thumbing my nose at so-called “experts.” Few things bring me greater joy than a hyperinflated expert being publicly proven wrong. That’s why I love climate “experts” who warn that whole cities will be submerged by next Tuesday. That makes Wednesdays so much fun.

I cheer the non-experts. I root for the Bigfoot hunters and hope that one day they’ll drag a Sasquatch from out of the woods and be covered in glory for their exploits that proved all the experts wrong.

And now I read that the Flat Earth Society is back! Fun. It came to popular notice recently when NBA star Kyrie Irving said he believed the earth was flat and then some others jumped on board. I’ll admit, I kind of thought it was sort of fun. Maybe it’s me but I kind of like how myopic he is. The man is a genius on the court. And he’s obviously put all of his mind and energy into excelling at the game he loves. And that…focus has left some, er… blind spots.

That being said, I actually have a concern here. And it’s not that nobody’s listening to “experts.” My concern is that everyone’s an expert on everything. You can hardly touch upon a subject on which anyone and everyone doesn’t feel (key word there is “feel”) that they have an expert opinion to offer. But, sort of like that great line from The Incredibles, if every one’s an expert, nobody is an expert. And nobody likes to listen to experts anymore so nobody listens to anyone else. We don’t have dialogue anymore. We have competing lectures. (See Facebook for evidence.)

But this aura of immediate expertise in all things permeates every facet of our culture, sadly, including morality and faith. I’ve heard good people who go to church on Sundays tell me that they’re “devout Catholics” but they think the Church is wrong about homosexuality or abortion or some other issue. Never mind the fact that they’re publicly opposing Church teaching while claiming to be a member of the faith. But it’s typically not even an informed opinion. I’ll sometimes ask them what research they’ve done to counter 2,000 years of thoughts and research by an institution created by Jesus Christ himself. Inevitably they talk about something they saw on the news or about knowing a guy who is gay or a woman who had an abortion. So, 2,000 years of wisdom is ignored because you know someone? No research? No studies? No theological consideration of why the Church might teach this or that? Nope. They know a guy!

In this age where every bit of information is at our fingertips, it seems we’ve never been so ignorant; as if the omnipresence of information has inoculated us against wisdom. The advancement and easy promulgation of science and technology hasn’t opened us more to truth, it’s actually made us suspicious of everything. We believe in nothing anymore, except ourselves. It’s like we can’t get past Descartes first building block of philosophy “I think, therefore I am” which would today be more accurately changed to “I feel, therefore I am.”

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