Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When Facts Oppose Opinion

There is an ancient proverb that goes, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Since this proverb dates back to at least the 1600s, its usage has evolved over time. Today, many use it as if to mean that if you are hunting for birds, and have caught one in your hand, it is better to settle with that, than to let it go in order to chase two other birds that you have not already caught. However, this is not the original meaning of the proverb. In fact, the proverb refers back to medieval falconry. In medieval falconry, a bird in the hand (the falcon) is a valuable asset that is certainly worth more than two birds in the bush (falcon's prey). In other words, the falcon can catch many birds for you while two small birds that are prey for the falcon are only worth two birds. Interestingly, some even believe that this proverb is actually a variation of an earlier proverb from Ecclesiastes 9:4, “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” Either way, the point remains the same: Something is better than nothing. But, such obvious wisdom is ignored today in the public discourse concerning science and philosophy.

For example, consider two unrelated articles published within months of each other earlier this year. One article was published in September highlighting the finding of King Solomon’s famous mines. The other article was published in July heralding the scientific declaration that humans may have emerged from the mating between pigs and chimpanzees. Which article sounds more like the falcon and which article sounds more like elusive birds? And, guess which article receives more credibility and was valued more highly? For your own benefit, let’s examine each article in order to answer these questions for yourself.

The original archaeological discovery of Solomon’s mines in the Timna Valley dates back as far as the 1930s by archaeologist, Nelson Glueck. However, this discovery was quickly shrouded in doubt by the discovery of an Egyptian temple in the center of the valley. Such doubt was removed when recent excavations in the Timna Valley turned up artifacts that have been dated to the 10th Century B.C., when the Bible faithfully recorded King Solomon’s rule. This was further supported by Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University. His findings are in line with the chronology that he and other researchers put forth last year in the journal, “American Schools of Oriental Research.” In short, this article is conclusively announcing the archaeological finding that supports a confirming aspect of the historical account of King Solomon from the Bible.

Now, let’s move to the other article. In July, Dr. Eugene McCarthy announced his findings that “The tentative scenario that I picture is that human beings came into being via hybridization between a pig, whose best modern representative is Sus scrofa, and an ape, best represented today by the pygmy chimpanzee, Pan paniscus.” McCarthy, a geneticist at the University of Georgia, is noted as one of the world’s leading authorities on genetics. His findings are based solely upon comparisons between the anatomy and genetic sequences in the DNA of humans, chimpanzees and pigs. However, did his research prove its conclusions? Did they actually mate a pig with a chimpanzee? Did they artificially cross-inseminate either species with the other to see if it would work? Have we observed anything even remotely similar to such a radical cross-species hybridization? Of course, the answers to all of these questions are “No,” “No,” “No,” and “No.”

With that background, which article is given credibility and considered worthy of having been proven? In the broader circles of human influence, that would be the pig-ape article. However, going back to our opening proverb, which article/finding is more analogous to the falcon and which is more analogous to elusive birds? I submit to you that archaeological facts are the falcon and radical, unsubstantiated opinions are the two small birds, if that. Facts always trump opinion. In this case, the two articles do not relate to each other. But, the value that our philosophical and scientific communities place on them is relevant. The broader observation is that these communities at large commonly dismiss actual facts that support the Bible, while heralding wild and unsupported opinions that oppose it. There is a growing theme of ignoring actual data from archaeology while heralding opinion as scientific evidence. This is foolish practice for both philosophy and science. And, it also happens to be foolish in the arena of common sense.

Romans 1:24-25 says, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Isn’t having faith in the unsupported opinion that we are the result of mating pigs and chimps just another form of worshiping the creation over the Creator? Were we caused by unusually promiscuous chimps and pigs? Or, were we wonderfully created by God? More importantly, don’t we have a falcon in the hand with archaeology? So, why are we continuing to foolishly chase worthless birds in the bush?

True Christians align their faith with facts, not opinions. True thinkers do the same.