This is a picture of a female red-breasted merganser and it was the first time had seen one. At first I was unsure of what I was seeing. It is slightly smaller than a goosander of which I am more familiar. In fact there was also a male goosander within sight of this bird which confused me because on the one hand you could tell by its size that it was smaller, yet I was worried that there might some variation in the plumage of a female goosander that I was unaware of. So when I got home I checked my bird identification books and found that the closest to what I had photographed was a female red-breasted merganser (only the male has the eponymous red breast). I still had my doubts though. While the feathers that stick out of the back of its head are characteristic of the merganser, maybe I feared this was just a scruffy looking female goosander so to make sure I decided to consult a work colleague who is more expert than myself in these matters. When I showed this picture to him he immediately confirmed that this was a merganser though when I had first broached the subject he was somewhat sceptical. So as a result it was several days before I felt it safe to post this picture on Facebook. However, another person posted a picture that he claimed were red-breasted mergansers which were in fact goosanders.
So what are the lessons that we can draw from this? Simple, check your facts before you post your comments on social media. However, there is an aversion in some Christian circles to scholarship. All you need is The Holy Spirit so you don’t need to bother with reference books. I once turned up at a Bible study on Matthew with a Bible commentary on Mathew and the person leading looked at it as if he had never seen or heard of such a thing as a commentary. I was shocked. Sadly, just because atheist intellectuals virulently attack Christianity, and traditional centres of Christian learning have watered down their theology, all academia and learning is tarred with the same brush. It is just that the secular media only reports on things that appear to question Christianity and put it in a poor light, ignoring those who still support Biblical values. But that is no reason why Christians should use sloppy nonsensical arguments because of woeful ignorance. “After all logic was invented by the pagan Greeks” seems to be their reasoning. It is not that God is illogical but that His logic is higher than man’s logic, and thus better than the greatest of the Greek philosophers. Let’s face it, it is very easy to get our facts mixed up with our faulty memories, so spending a short piece of time checking the facts is better than having admit you have got them wrong.
David Rose, 2018.