By Dr. Jim Ferguson
Sometimes people say things and it finally resonates with you. Becky and I are soul mates, but we just process information differently. Sometimes we don’t hear what the other says. Paul once said we all have “gifts differing,” This week I finally understood that that dogma is the zeitgeist of our modern era.
I don’t fancy myself as thick headed, but sometimes illogic can confuse a logical person. Anecdotally, Mr. Spock, the quintessential logical “person” of Star Trek, was often flummoxed by Dr. McCoy and other humans who sometimes operated by feelings and were driven by emotion rather than logic.
A video now circulating on YouTube from the Family Policy Institute of Washington is jaw dropping. This socially conservative organization went to the University of Washington to interview students in a man-on-the-street style. The interviewer was a young white male who asked students what they thought when he challenged them with the notion that he identified himself as an Asian woman and considered himself six foot five inches tall, though he is actually five foot nine inches. I was stunned to hear the students respond by saying if he felt like a tall Asian woman, so be it. Sure, the video was politically engineered. However, I was stunned to see that observational reality has become eclipsed by politically correct emotional relativism. (Maybe my “inner self,” as a black woman, can now finally come out of the closet.)
You should watch the video yourself and make your own opinion. They’re even talking about it on our local talk radio. The video is entitled “College Kids Say the Darndest Things.” However, as I consider which bathroom I am to use in the future, Sex Week at the University of Tennessee each spring and the ridiculous brouhaha over the Diversity Department at UT, I think logic has left the building and our country. The students in this video were either incapable of using their senses of observation or were unwilling to buck the bullies of political correctness and act rationally. At the end of the video the interviewer asks, if university students have such trouble with silly questions, how can they be expected to sift through complex issues and make rational decisions? My disturbing conclusion is that the Age of Reason has been replaced by the “age of feeling.”
I was similarly gobsmacked to read that Bill Nye the Science Guy has recommended prosecution and jail time for deniers of man-made global warming. I’ve read that Mr. Nye graduated with a degree in engineering, but he apparently forgot that science isn’t based on dogma. Perhaps he’s never heard of Galileo who was forced to recount his scientific discoveries because they conflicted with the politically correct, dogmatic views of the intolerant church.
Nye became a celebrity by answering science questions on his children’s show. I’ve previously questioned the expertise of celebrities who pontificate on issues outside their profession. Apparently, Nye’s celebrity status has overruled any logic or notion of the scientific method. I cringe to think what Nye has taught kids over the years. However, Nye is not alone with his intolerance and dogma. Sixteen state attorneys general are preparing to investigate and prosecute global warming deniers. Apparently, tyranny is not limited to Washington.
Lately, I’ve been wondering if things are worse or whether I’m just more aware of wars all over the world, corruption in government and gang killings in Chicago which have apparently moved to Knoxville. A fellow church member recently told me he thought everything in our country was just great. I disagreed with him. In my study of history there have always been injustice and tyranny, and I’m sure I’m biased to our present situation. Unfortunately, it seems every generation must learn the same lessons over and over again. I’ll admit I was naive and a liberal when I was young, but the lessons of history and life have convinced me otherwise. And understandably we are more aware of the mayhem as a result of the internet and 24 hour cable news. But it seems some just bury their heads in the sand like an ostrich.
Yet despite our problems, there remains wonder and majesty for those who seek to find it. Lately, I’ve been meditating on Psalm 8. You should read this 3000 year old reflection. Aristotle championed the notion of causality, logically arguing that something cannot come from nothing. Some scientists dogmatically reject something they can’t observe or prove, and now posit our universe budded out from some other reality and is just one of many multiverses. Their logic breaks down when they demand proof of something beyond our reality. Their hubris prevents them from seeing the hand of a Creator and Creative force in the genesis of all we can ever know.
I went into Internal Medicine because I’m a contemplative type rather than a surgeon. Late one night I was stewing over the diagnosis of a sick patient with abdominal pain. After reviewing the situation and tests with a surgical colleague, he quipped, “Ferguson, quit analyzing; nothing heals like cold steel. Your answer is just a few inches away inside that fellow’s abdominal wall.” This time he was right and my patient was cured by removing his inflamed appendix.
In the absence of an emergency, thoughtful management of patients prevents rash decisions. Internists are specialists in adult medical diseases like diabetes. As I considered my career direction I felt Family Practitioners were spread too thinly, and sub-specialists, like cardiologists, knew more and more about fewer topics. Obviously, if you knew you were having a heart attack, a cardiologist is a better option. But what if you don’t know the cause of your exertional left jaw pain?
Humans stand astride the Creation just as internists do the medical spectrum. Confused? Hang with me! The Cosmos extends 13.5 billion light years; that’s 1024 meters or 10 followed by 24 zeros. Folks, that’s huge! At the other extreme atoms and the quantum world are unimaginably small (~10-24 meters).
The psalmist said we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are imbued with reason to contemplate our origin and purpose, and even the extremes of reality and God. As far as we know, humans may be unique in all of Creation. I’m not so sure, but then I’m not blinded by dogma.