At some point experience and knowledge become interchangeable. Regardless of the discipline, becoming proficient requires, to varying degrees, a measure of both applied experiences and the didactic experiences of pedagogy. In this way, it is axiomatic that knowledge is a distilled translation of experience. So this is why those who have given decades of their lives to the acquiring of specifically applied and educational experiences are deserving of the deferential designation of expert.
Before the modern era of experts, one would enter a barber shop for a haircut and a shave . . . or a bloodletting, amputation, and a tooth extraction – talk about your one stop shopping! So needless to say — things have changed. Almost mindlessly, we enjoy many benefits of modern expertise. Beyond the obvious expertise of brain surgeons, airline pilots, and rocket scientists – we regularly take advantage of the expertise of farmers, auto mechanics, and clothiers. In truth, our reliance upon experts in our culture is more than just an economic dynamic, it’s an anthropological phenomenon . . . an ever refining of translated personal experience by proxy.
Prior to the Great War (World War I), there was an optimism within western intelligentsia regarding the future of humanity. It was predicated largely on the existential framework of Hegel and Nietzsche, informed by the theories of Darwin and Marx – until eventually a collection of experts was formed known as the Fabians. This became a coalition of those considered most equipped to decide the future of mankind’s evolution. They envisioned an oligarchy of experts making all of the big picture decisions for us, and of course, they naturally imagined themselves to be the best qualified purveyors of such wisdom. The most notable of their social engineering ideals gave us the bloodless expedience of eugenics. . . the horrors of which were perfected by Nazi Germany.
Allowing the experts to do our thinking for us is very seductive, as we can simply parrot their thoughts on various topics, as if they were our own. Not only does this afford us the appearance of intelligence, but it also allows us to pursue our own interests without the distraction of having to form a thoughtful opinion of our own. No doubt, you’ve experienced people on social media like this, people who answer almost every question by hyperlinking you to some expert opinion. Makes you wonder if they’ve actually ever taken the time to internalize the meaning and value of that opinion they just took off the shelf.
A brand new shiny bullet train sure is impressive –until you realize that where it’s headed is . . . off a cliff. So I suggest that before our brains experience complete atrophy, we begin to understand ourselves as tasked with assessing the veracity of expert opinion, learning to discern between an experts actual sphere of expertise and when they’re merely inserting personal values. And we should do so within our faith disciplines where such discernment is refined. So when a secularized promise of a better world attempts to offer us a better means to a better end – the question you need to remember to ask yourself is: Where do they place their hope? . . . and then remember where you place yours.
My hope is in Jesus Christ, and so I follow his call – not to create a better world. Creating a better world is the mantra of modernity — so I say, let them chase that mirage off into oblivion. My confession is Hebrews 12:1, 2 “. . . and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross . . .” Because his is the way of redemptive sacrifice — where the human soul is held as sacred . . . something for which the scientific machinations of the experts has no category.
Donald Fagen is the master of satirical lyrics
. . . and this song became hard to resist when writing this weeks blog