I just finished reading a book called “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against established knowledge and why it matters” by Tom Nicholes. The book explores the fairly recent phenomenon of using the label “Expert” and “Intellectual” as a negative attribute
A quote from the book:
We can take being wrong about the kind of bird we just saw in our backyard, or who the first person to circumnavigate the globe, but we cannot tolerate being wrong about the concept of facts that we rely upon to govern how we live our lives.
This made so much sense! People use religion to govern how they live their lives. They cannot tolerate any challenge to this from “So called Intellectuals“. So when an “expert” in astrophysics tells a believing Mormon that the moon is 238,855 miles away (on average), they have no problem with this as it does not challenge any fact that they use to govern their life with.
Now take another expert, say in archaeology, that has just as much education as the above astrophysicist. She says that there is absolutely no evidence for the the Book of Mormon, This is challenging a fact that contributes to how a Mormon governs their life, so this expert becomes suspect. Change the expert to a DNA specialist, a geologist, or a nutritionist. They have all been minimized in one way or another through our church history as they challenge the fundamental aspects of our religion (BofM, Age of Earth, and WofW).
It sounds like what we do in challenging these experts is just human nature. The book did not talk about religion at all, but it appears to be natural to reject an expert that challenges our very soul. But is using titles like “So Called Intellectuals” really the right way to confront the problem? What if every time a secular newspaper, when referring to church leaders, used “President Nelson, the so called prophet”, or “Elder Oaks, a so called apostle”. This sounds very condescending, and the members of the church would be up in arms about it, claiming it is disrespectful. It is also disrespectful to the experts in the world to belittle them just because they teach something that threatens our beliefs.
How do you treat experts that contradict your belief systems? Do you minimize them, or write them off as a so called intellectual?