Before reading Bart Ehrman’s recent book Did Jesus Exist? I had maintained that there was no evidence that Jesus of Nazareth ever existed. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar and self-described “agnostic with atheist leanings,” demonstrates (to my satisfaction, anyway—I cannot speak for yours) that behind the Jesus-legend there probably was a real person.
This isn’t the first time I have had to relent.
For instance, after a host of books convinced me that women are inherently better at certain tasks and men at others, Carol Tavris, in a TAM encounter I don’t expect her to recall, was kind enough to refer me to Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender. Fine’s book turned my thinking around.
Likewise, I relented when a Richard Dawkins book convinced me that the Theory of Evolution wasn’t riddled with holes after all … a Michael Shermer book convinced me that a God belief isn’t a requisite for a moral society … an SGU podcast convinced me that anthropogenic global warming is likely … a Brian Dunning book set me straight as to what immune systems are and are not ... and that’s just a smattering. Were I to list my every comeuppance, we’d be here all day.
I have, in fact, relented so many times that when I review my personal journal I am embarrassed at the poor dupe its pages betray. Yet I love the revelation, for surely I am making progress or I wouldn’t see in him a dupe at all.
The look back can also humble. (This is no small feat, as my name and “humble” rarely appear in the same sentence unless separated by words like “decidedly not” or followed by words like “don’t joke when I have a mouthful of coffee.”) Having been wrong about many things serves as a reminder that I may yet be wrong about many more. There’s no telling the number of reversals or, for that matter, re-reversals that yet await me.
It also serves as a reminder to treat with care people who don’t see things my way. Carol Tavris was consummately courteous when she righted my thinking. I would do well to follow her lead.
Besides, maybe, just maybe, the person who doesn’t see things my way won’t turn out to be the one who has it wrong.
Though he remains open to being convinced otherwise, Steve Cuno served as the as-told-to writer with Joanne Hanks in her new book, “It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass: Confessions of an Ex-Mormon Ex-Polygamist Ex-Wife.