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Just Something I Believed! (10.17.05--That Person!--Mark 6:2-3)

Sometimes we want to believe something so hard that even when we know the truth, we cling to the error.

I grew up believing that all cats were sneaky and couldn’t be trusted. All dogs were rather dumb and couldn’t be devious if they tried. It was just something that I picked up and learned as truth. There was little if any imperical information at my disposal. It was something that I believed.

When I was in college I moved into a lower flat where dogs were not allowed but cats were. I wanted a pet, so I went to the local shelter and discoverd Jussi Pushkin, a large Manx cat waiting to be adopted. I did. It was neither sneaky nor not to be trusted. In fact, it acted more like a dog (a slight bit dense but always trustworthy). Years later, my wife and I acquired a mini Dachshund. Anything but dumb and often untrustworthy, it acted more like a cat than a dog. However, even after years of evidence, I still believe that, as a group, cats are devious and dogs are trustworthy. I believe it because, I guess, it is a notion I want to believe.

For centuries people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all time, and surely he would not be wrong.

Anyone, of course, could have taken two objects, one heavy and one light, and dropped them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one did until nearly 2,000 years after Aristotle’s death. In 1589 Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten-pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same instant. The power of belief was so strong, however, that the professors denied their eyesight. They continued to say Aristotle was right. (Bits & Pieces, January 9, 1992, pp. 22-23.)

Sometimes we are so blinded to the truth that, even when presented with the evidence, we refuse to believe otherwise. Some cats are sneaky while others aren’t. Some dogs are trustworthy and others not. When Jesus preached to His hometown of Nazareth, they heard His words and saw His miracles. Yet, since they “knew” that carpenters don’t speak like this or do miracles (and Jesus was a carpenter), he could not be the Son of God he claimed to be. Their preconceived notions about Him were enough to blind them to the truth. If we believe things about people just because we happen to believe the notion rather than the truth, we are no better. It is so easy to hide from the truth in our prejudices.

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