On your next half-hour break, take a listen to this fascinating Radiolab feature on the real origin of the AIDS pandemic. I learned all kinds of stuff — including how old HIV really is, according to some very dedicated biologists and researchers.
What really got me thinking was how expertly the researchers demolished the notion that “Patient Zero” of the AIDS epidemic was a French Canadian airline steward who launched what we have come to know as the modern AIDS pandemic, c. 1981. That’s not even close to the truth. Listen and you’ll find out why.
One thing that continually frustrates me as a journalist is that people are all too ready to accept the conclusions of lousy research (or plain ol’ fairy tales) as gospel truth. Thank the Lord for websites like Snopes.com that put the lie to rubbish that is accepted as fact. For example, contrary to a once-popular rumor, you do not have to register your cell phone number with a Do Not Call registry to keep telemarketers away. I never have, yet I never get a call from anyone trying to sell me a time share in Sarasota.
We need real truth. Christians have the real truth. He lives inside us. His name is Jesus. In his word, Jesus commands us to be very wary of lies and half-truths and ideas that sound very much like the truth, but really aren’t. In fact, we’re supposed to know the truth so well that we can instruct others in it:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Christians need to be the best-informed people around, because our enemy, the devil, wants very much to discredit us in the eyes of a cynical and unbelieving world. The bigger suckers we are for lies, the less credible Jesus looks to the world.
We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard of knowledge and truth. Simple as that.