Evolution, the Bible, and the 3.5 Million Dollar Violin

by Jeff G.

It was 7th grade biology class, and we began to learn the theory of evolution. The evidence seemed absolutely clear to me—evolution was an undeniable fact. I picked up my bible and compared what I read to what I learned in my biology class. The accounts seemed clearly contradictory. It didn’t take much time for me to conclude that all of Christianity was a sham. I will come back to this in a bit, but first, do me a favor and let me tell you another story…

In January of 2007, world-renowned violin virtuoso Joshua Bell took his 3.5 million dollar violin to the Washington D.C. metro station to play some songs as a street musician.  Dressing modestly in a baseball cap, jeans, and a long-sleeved t-shirt, Bell left his violin case open for tips as he played 6 classical songs, one of which has been called the most difficult song on any instrument—J.S. Bach’s Chaconne. Of this song, the great composer Johannes Brahms said, “if I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.”

With violin virtuoso Joshua Bell’s level of talent, playing this sort of music, you might expect that Bell would draw a rather large crowd. So what happened? After 43 minutes and 1097 passersby there was no crowd, and only seven people stopped during the entire performance, at least for a minute. However, as the Washington Post notes, “Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”

The experiment was to see if people would recognize genius if it came in a form they were not expecting, or if their prejudgments (in this case, against street musicians) would blind them to the modest looking man playing some of the most difficult music in the world on one of the most expensive instruments in the world. The results were clear, people’s prejudice did blind them to see the genius right in front of them…

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