Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Gordon Runyan
Religion columnist 

'Experts,' too, will be standing in line on final day


April 5, 2023

I’m sick of being told what the experts say. Specifically, I’ve had it with experts who take it upon themselves to tell us how the world needs to change (and right now, mister) or else.

I can’t even blame the experts themselves too much: they’re simply giving their opinion. The real culprits are the non-experts who constantly insist that the exalted ones should be regarded as oracles.

The appeal to supposed expertise has taken on a religious flavor in our day. It’s a flavor that colors everything we argue about publicly.

You can’t hold to Opinion A, even if you can muster evidence and sound reason to support it, because you’re not an expert. The experts have determined that Opinion A is wrong, and no, you may not ask them about that. Questioning their pronouncements is blasphemous. They got their knowledge from a secret place that scrubs like us can’t go.

Most of us never had the advantage of taking a serious class in logic, including myself. If we did, we’d encounter a common error called the “appeal to authority.” It runs like this:

My opinions are right because they are verified by this person or group of persons over here. All the smart people agree with me.

Now, just because you appeal to authority to justify your view, it certainly doesn’t mean you are wrong. Your authority can be right, in which case parroting them would make you right. All I’m saying is that asserting you are right based upon your agreement with an authority is not, on its own, a logical argument.

Every human authority can be wrong. Possessing the label of “expert” does not grant you divine infallibility. People make mistakes. They guess wrong. Sometimes they even lie, especially if they think their little fib will advance an overall good cause.

One problem with making decisions based on what the experts say is this: How do you know who they are? Who told you to regard this person as an expert? Is this other person (the one advocating for trusting them) an expert in picking the right experts? Doesn’t the fact that there is never unanimity among all the experts mean that being an expert doesn’t guarantee that you’re right?

Why would anyone ever get a medical second opinion? Isn’t your first doctor an expert? Who are you, ignorant and uneducated, excluded from the academy, to question the first advice?

I have, in my work as a pastor, the things we generally think make one an expert. I’ve got the graduate degree in biblical studies. I’ve got over 10,000 hours of study and practice. I’ve published books in the field. I can muster a group of recognized religious experts who will agree that I’m the bee’s knees. That being said, I’m the first to tell you, don’t take my word for anything. Do your homework. Use the awesome brain your Creator gave you.

When we stand before God on the final day, as we all will, and give an account for how we lived, the excuse that we were only doing what the experts told us was right, will not fly. The experts will be standing in the same line with you, waiting their own turn.

Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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