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The Great Egg-Balancing Hoax (When People Believe What They Want to Believe)

Perhaps you’ve done it—balanced an egg on its wide end sometime during the vernal or autumnal equinox. A friend of mine introduced this phenomenon to me recently, explaining that on these two days of the year, the sun and the earth’s gravitational pulls are balanced enough to keep Humpty Dumpty from wobbling.

I tried it and it worked. There we were, marveling at the wonders of the universe, never minding that we had gone through several eggs to find just “the right one”—particularly one with a tiny tripod of calcium deposits on its base.

I posted our miracle on Facebook and someone replied with a video showing how equinox egg balancing is, in fact, a hoax. The power of suggestion (and lack of patience) disables spring devotees from balancing eggs any other day of the year.

I felt the chagrin associated with being taken by a scam. My friend felt far worse, refusing to believe it at first. She’d balanced eggs on the first day of spring and fall every year since she was a kid. It was a beloved family tradition, a magical memory, and—so she thought—a wonderful science lesson to pass on to friends.

When I emailed this photo to my friend, two days after “the window of opportunity” to balance an egg—she confessed to being a “doubting Thomas.” She said the whole experience caused her to examine her mindset in other areas of her life.

I am reminded of the day I too examined a particular mindset. I awoke one morning and asked myself, Why do I believe in the God of the Bible? What if it’s a hoax—a beloved tradition that I am unwilling to let go of, one that blinds me to objective truth?

I realized it could not be about what I want to believe. It has to be about wanting to know the truth.

Some days I don’t want to believe morality matters (because relationships matter). That there is Someone Who watches over every jealous, envious, resentful, deceiving, bitter, complaining, arrogant, self-righteous and impure thought and intent of my heart.

Or that there could be a place of voluntary, eternal separation from a freewill-giving God people choose to reject.

So I had to dig for answers outside of my Western, American-Christian traditions and conditioned responses. I had to patiently, diligently, “steady the egg” through studies in Biblical archeology, the authenticity of ancient manuscripts and so on.

To my astonishment, truth stood upright before my wide-open eyes, on the bedrock of reason.

Do you know why you believe what you believe?

(Resources: there are so many brilliant Christian apologists out there, but my favorite resource is this book.)


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