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A Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing




Romans 1:19

Because I had to work from 4 pm to 12 pm while going to school there was much missed education that accompanied my degree. But what scraps of knowledge I retained is because some of my professors did not write me off.


In the bottom part of the class that made the top part possible. Classmates of privilege who went to the library to study and write their learned papers while I went to work as a janitor. Upon returning to my dormitory on the campus I would stay up late to try to read the long pages of required reading for next days’ class. In the first class I had trouble staying awake and would feel my head popping my neck and my eyes refusing to stay open due to sleep deprivation. When the bell rang to end the class a student of economic privilege who did not need to work and go to school, would say loud enough for everyone to hear; “Jim, wake up .It is time for your next nap.” Such words did not shame me to cease from studying under trying circumstances. An inner voice reminded me of the words of Alexander Pope. ‘’A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep or touch not the Pierian spring. Shallow droughts intoxicate the brain. Drinking large sobers us up again.”


Drinking deeply for knowledge is the human search of asking questions. What is this world all about? Has this world always existed? Why is there something rather that nothing? What is my place in the world? Are there answers to my questions and how do I find them? Beyond the impenetrable horizon of scientific investigation and research and the mathematical logic of our greatest philosophers are infinite truths to console and comfort the pointless and hopeless conclusions of human existence. Scientific knowledge may share descriptive knowledge that there are some 100 billion galaxies in the universe with 100 billion stars in each one, where each star is dying, exploding, splitting atoms and fusing nuclei under enormous temperatures. But science fails to share with us the motivating power behind this action that staggers our puny understanding. Who dictated the laws of physics and astrophysics? Nobody?


Water weighs eight hundred times more than air, yet to have rain, it must be lifted against the force of gravity, held in suspension above the earth as clouds, moved to different locations, and brought down as rain. It has been estimated that approximately sixteen tons of water fall every second as gentle rain drops that we take for granted. But by a process called evaporation, the water is raised from oceans, lakes, and rivers to make this happen. What cosmic intellect planned such mystery and was it a pre-historical event? Every fall frail and fragile feathered migrants find their way over long stretches of the sky without chart or compass? How do these birds know to return on subsequent summers to the same trees they left.


The celebrated advocate scholar from Oxford University, Professor Richard Dawkins has many followers who applaud his views expressed in his book; The God Delusion. He gets widespread coverage in the media of Great Britain where many church cathedrals are empty. Dawkins says, “The atheist view is correspondingly life -affirming and life- enhancing while at the same time never being tainted with self-delusion , wishful thinking, or the whining self-pity of those who feel that life owes them something.<page361 The God Delusion>.” Professor Alister McGrath who has PhD ‘s in molecular physics and theology debated Dawkins saying that contrary to Dawkin’s caricature, biblical faith is informed faith, faith based on reason and an honest examination of the evidence. Dawkins without producing evidence says that belief in God is a virus of the mind.


Mc Grath concluded the debate asking might atheism be a delusion about God? Instead of living our lives as if there is no God, could we remember that a little learning Is a dangerous thing and that we remember that God does matter, and that God matters most supremely. God is the final reality with whom each of us face and reckon.

As Robert Hamill taught us God is not a power, or principle or law. God is a living, creating, communicating, person, a mind who thinks, a heart who feels, a will who acts whose best name is Father/Mother.

J Alfred Smith Sr.

Pastor Emeritus,

Allen Temple Baptist Church,

Oakland Ca.

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