Experimentation and the Revelation of Truth

Once upon a time, scientists thought about things.  They thought very logical things.  Aristotle thought a lot about how objects move; specifically, why they fall to earth.  He thought and thought and thought, and concluded that heavier objects must fall faster than lighter objects.  He might have even dropped a feather and a rock, saw the rock land first, and considered the theory proven.

It seemed quite reasonable.  In fact, it took nearly 1,000 years for someone else to think about this reasonable conclusion and test it out.  According to legend,* Galileo Galilei climbed up to the top of the leaning tower of Pisa – presumably one of the tallest buildings around – and dropped balls of different weights off of the tower.  Again, according to legend, he found that balls of different mass reached the ground at the same time.

What.**

The prevailing wisdom – unquestioned – said that heavier objects fall faster.  It just made sense!  However, once the experiment had been done, that most “logical” theory had to be cast aside.  Nature had spoken!

My friend Darren said it this way, “Einstein’s theories of relativity seem to make perfect sense.  But the first time we see a particle go faster than the speed of light, the theories go out the window.”

We were discussing this bit of scientific history as it relates to 1 Corinthians.  Here, Paul is writing to these “wise” Greeks about true wisdom.  Check it out  (I’ll wait):

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
– 1 Corinthians 2 : 6-16

In this section, Paul discusses how we attain the wisdom of God: it’s a complete gift.  God reveals His wisdom to us.  I love his common sense metaphor: only you know what you’re thinking, right?  In the same way, only God knows what God’s thinking.  So if we have Godly wisdom, the only way we got it is that God told us what He is thinking.

Our worldly “wisdom” is like the “wisdom” of Aristotle’s theory of gravity.  It may make all the sense in the world, but when the truth is revealed – by experiment or Spirit-led instruction – that “wisdom” is chucked out the window.  Once you know what Truth is – no matter how confusing or messy it seems – all Falsehood – no matter how clear and organized – must go.

 

* Current thought is that Galileo didn’t actually perform this experiment, but we’ll consider the legend true because it’s a lovely story and it goes with my point.

** In case you’re curious, note that the reason the feather usually lands after the rock is that most people conduct this experiment in air.  Without air resistance, weight has no effect on falling speed.

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