With the omicron variant stirring things up in new ways, we face the discouraging prospect of moving back into more restrictions as Year Two of the Coronavirus plods on into what may well be Year Three. Many people who have been quietly compliant, including many Christians, are now murmuring against the constraints and against the powers that be who impose them. Skepticism, even cynicism, beckons—about public health officials formerly accorded respect, about politicians formerly accorded cooperation, even about pharmaeutical companies and medical professionals formerly accorded admiration and gratitude.
What is a person, a citizen, and a Christian to make of what’s happened, what’s happening, and what’s to happen? Here are a few thoughts.
We should expect more ambiguity, ambivalence, and even contradiction from our experts.
The science regarding COVID-19 has been complex from the beginning, with some facts taken for granted by everyone, other information seemingly reliable giving way to very different data, and many questions still not satisfactorily answered. That’s how science often works in real time.
For scientists to “flip-flop” may be a sign of stupidity. But it’s more likely a sign of humble recognition of an earlier understanding giving way to a later one as both information and interpretation improve. (Would we want scientists to stubbornly refuse to change their minds in the light of better evidence and ideas?)
Waiting until there is a firm consensus makes sense—if we can afford to wait. But if there are other considerations, such as public health mandates affecting livelihoods and life together, then the rational choice is to go with the expert consensus, however fallible and even fractured it might be. The alternative is the madness of everyone deciding for himself or herself.
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