Everyone knows that Albert Einstein, the father of relativity, was a genius. Over the years, we have published several articles dealing with relativity and how it helps us understand modern cosmology and the nature of God. One unintended lesson we can learn from Einstein is that a genius in one area of human endeavor may still be below average in other areas. Nobody is an expert in everything.
Reader’s Digest had a wonderful story of an area of human endeavor in which Einstein failed miserably – sailing a sailboat. In 1939, Einstein rented a cottage in Cutchogue, Long Island, New York. A sailboat came with the house, and Einstein decided to go sailing, thinking that he could be oblivious to the world while sailing.
The problem was that Einstein knew nothing about sailing and couldn’t seem to learn how to do it. On top of that, Einstein had never learned to swim. He capsized the boat over 30 times, requiring local people to rescue him and the boat, towing them to safety. Once, Einstein got caught in a strong wind that took him to Connecticut, where he was stranded and again had to be rescued.
Interestingly, movie stars or professional athletes often comment about politics, education, or how to raise a family, and the media presents it as an expert opinion. A star quarterback in the NFL is probably a poor choice to give a lecture on global warming or vaccines. Being good in one area does not mean you are good in all areas because nobody is an expert in everything.
The same goes for religious leaders commenting on cosmology or paleontology. Sometimes, when I have discussed rock types or methods of measuring time and distance in outer space, a preacher will counter with a comment showing a lack of understanding of those topics. I have heard statements from church leaders indicating that granite was laid down by Noah’s flood or that the Web telescope is looking at galaxies created less than 10,000 years ago.
Knowledgable young people recognize when a church leader makes a disproven scientific statement, and it causes them to see the Church as a relic of the past with no help in their daily lives. Those factors are part of the reason young people leave Christianity. Nobody is an expert in everything, but sometimes, we are better off being silent rather than displaying our lack of understanding.
— John N. Clayton © 2023
Reference: Reader’s Digest, September 2023, pages 60-61.