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The Nitty-Gritty of Things

By JohnK2 --

Nitty-gritty is defined by Merriam-Webster as “what is essential and basic; specific practical details.”

It’s a bit of a cliché, but things aren’t always what they seem. Back when I was a Christian, I was taught at church that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the bible) was written by Moses. I just accepted this as fact, because this is what the pastor and the church-recommended books told me. However, if I had actually done some research of my own on this matter, I may have discovered that: (1) Deuteronomy 34 describes the death of Moses; (2) there are four different writing styles displayed in the original Hebrew of the Pentateuch, each with its own perspective, cultural bias, theology, and name for God; (3) redactors (editors) later compiled these four independent accounts into one big narrative, which was very common in the ancient world with no copyright laws; and (4) that this is formally called the Documentary Hypothesis by bible scholars. Facts and details matter.

Back when I was a Christian, I was also taught that evolution was a lie and that it was a “theory in crisis”. However, if I had actually done my own research on this matter, I may have discovered that (1) different and independent branches of science such as genetics, anatomy and the fossil record have constructed a tree of life through which every known species on earth can be traced back to a common ancestor; (2) our second chromosome (human chromosome #2) is the fusion of two ancestral primate chromosomes 2p and 2q which still exist in the genes of other primates like chimps and gorillas; (3) paleontologists have discovered a lobe-finned fish named Tiktaalik dating to about 400 million years ago with fins containing wrist bones and the beginnings of fingers, a perfect transitional form between fish and tetrapods; and (4) that evolution is considered the unifying theory of all biology by scientists. To quote geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Facts and details matter.

Making an honest and diligent search for the truth of the matter, and really looking into the underlying facts and details either supporting or refuting a particular claim, can profoundly affect your understanding of the world What I am trying to get at is, making an honest and diligent search for the truth of the matter, and really looking into the underlying facts and details either supporting or refuting a particular claim, can profoundly affect your understanding of the world and your pre-conceived notions of the truth (especially if you are religious). Some people call this “critical thinking”. I like to call it getting into the nitty-gritty of things. Unfortunately, this method can take a lot of time and hard work. It is probably so much easier to just accept what you are told and not question the arguments and claims that you have grown comfortable with. And sometimes there is so much information to look through and it can be difficult to sift through the arguments of both sides and really get to the heart of the issue. However, just going through this process of researching and fact-finding on your own will make you more educated, knowledgeable and well-informed, not to mention much better equipped to engage in discussions and debates, regardless of which “side” you eventually end up on.

Many of you ex-Christians and freethinkers on this site already know and agree with me on all this. So this article is written more for the occasional Christian or person on the fence who may stumble upon this site. We live in the information age where you can learn about every conceivable subject under the sun through a few clicks on the Internet, or by making a visit to your local or university library. Yet, so many people do not take advantage of these resources and stay or choose to remain in ignorance instead of delving into the nitty-gritty of things. I encourage you to pull up your sleeves and look more closely at every claim or issue you may come across, and diligently seek the truth, regardless of where that search may lead you. The truth just may set you free.

Let me end with a quote from the most famous scientist of our time, Albert Einstein:
“The most important thing is to never stop questioning.”

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