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Burn the heretic!

Posted by Lewis on March 03, 2006

In Reply to: Beware of the man of one book posted by Bob on March 03, 2006

: : Can you please elaborate on the meaning (and perhaps, origin) of the Latin phrase: Beware of the man of one book?" Thank you very much. Laura

: Someone more learned will have to address the origin (Smokey? Your knowledge of classics is needed) but I can certainly address the meaning. History books and even our daily newspapers are filled with fanatics who wave The One Book With All the Answers. They demand that everybody follow its rules, they discourage learning and wider reading, they brand as heretics and unbelievers those who are skeptical or doubtful or (worst of all) slightly off course. The world is complicated. Messy. Evolving. Diverse. And to fanatic fundamentalists of all stripes, life is far too complex: they love to simplify it down to one set of rules. Their rules. And on those uncomfortable occasions where the facts don't fit the theory, they change the facts. Beware indeed. These are people who can, if they get in power, slaughter millions without a pang of conscience.

It is not just being 'of one book' that is dangerous - it is being of one interpretation of that one book to the exclusion of all others that is really dangerous - not only do I have the Truth, I have The Truth.

Mankind just doesn't seem capable of understanding the Whole Truth with all its minutiae.

Of course, there are people who are fanatical about fanatics...