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Oyster mushroom
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Oyster mushroom

Knowledge based on authority

Faith & Inspiration

Yesterday I told you about my trip into the woods, the discovery of nematodes, and my lack of humility. I failed to mention the mushrooms, which were the main purpose of our little band’s venture with our tour guide Jim, a self-made expert in the gilled fungi.

Jim is a person you want to have with you in the forest. He will keep you from nibbling the alluring but poisonous shrooms and see to it that you do not pass by the edible varieties. Though I have forgotten most of what he told us (sorry, Jim), I am in Jim’s debt for knowing that oyster mushrooms are fine for human consumption. We sampled some on the spot.

We also came across little red berries ensconced in tiny dark green leaves that we learned were winterberry, also consumable, and tasting remarkably like wintergreen gum. I popped quite a few of those. I understand there are other red berries, just as fair, that will kill you.

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As we foraged like feral animals, grazing on some of nature’s offerings and forswearing others, it occurred to me that I was betting my whole life on Jim’s words. I was making a decision, at some level of consciousness, concerning certain propositions: 1) Jim is an intelligent man and knows the forest and 2) Jim is a good man and does not want us to die.

I then realized that most of what I know (or think I know) about the world is based on authority, not on my empirical observation. It is the same for all of us. Because our personal experience is so limited, the so-called “facts” that we live by are mostly derived from authorities. We have simply decided that these authorities are reliable and so we believe their information—we can hardly do otherwise. Maybe 99 out of 100 things we believe in we have never seen for ourselves. I believe that New Zealand exists, but who knows?

The Scriptures are my supreme authority. I believe what the Bible has to say on every subject, even when at points it seems to fly against my experience and other information sources. I am committed to putting the Word of God above the word of man, no matter who the man, not matter how persuasive the theory.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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