15 But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them.
16 And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.
17 And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.
18 Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it.
19 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned.
20 Then shall the Lord God say unto him: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.
(2 Nephi 27:15-20)
Formal education can stand in the way of true learning in at least two ways:
- When we are educated in a specific field, we may refuse to examine evidence which contradicts our opinions, because we think we already know the answer.
- When we lack formal education in a field, we may be reluctant to dedicate time and energy to the topic because we feel we aren’t qualified.
The two characters in the passage above represent these two fallacies. In this passage, Nephi paraphrases and elaborates on a much shorter passage in the book of Isaiah:
11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:
12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.
The first character has the background and training to evaluate the book but refuses to do so because it is “sealed.” In Nephi’s retelling, this character receives some of the words from the book but wants to examine the book for himself. When he is told that the book is sealed, he says simply, “I cannot read it.” He seems eager to find an excuse to ignore the information that has been presented to him and to focus on more important things. Nephi further explains that this man wants the book brought to him “because of the glory of the world and to get gain.” He may be more interested in showing off his knowledge and being recognized as an expert than in actually learning the truth.
The second character is hesitant to read the book because of his own lack of education. He says, “I am not learned.” In Nephi’s version, the Lord does not accept this rationale, but responds: “The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.” If educated people refuse to take the book seriously, then an uneducated person must do it. God can help him to do so successfully.
Today, I will avoid falling into both of these traps. In the areas where I am knowledgeable, I will strive to remain humble and eager to learn new things. In areas where I know less, I will trust that, with God’s help, I can gain the knowledge that I need.