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The Last Man Who Knew Everything

Thomas Young was known as “The Last Person Who Knew Everything.” The 18th-century Britain was a polymath, meaning a person whose knowledge spans a substantial number of subjects, using complex amounts of knowledge to solve specific problems.

As a child Thomas was precociously talented; by the age of 13 he had read 30 chapters of the Book of Genesis in Hebrew, a language he taught himself. In 1801, he had been appointed to a professorship of natural philosophy at the Royal Institution, where he delivered as many as 60 lectures in a year. In 1808 he completed his medical training at the University of Cambridge and set up practice as a physician in London. Young's skill as a physician, however, did not equal his skill as a scholar of natural philosophy or linguistics. His opinions were sought in many areas, such as the introduction of gas lighting to London and methods of ship construction.

In physics, he had the boldness to contradict Newton and propose a wave theory of light. In physiology, he made significant advances in understanding the mechanisms of the eye, explaining how it focuses, and defining astigmatism. Egyptologists hail Young as one of the founders of their science. He provided key insights into deciphering the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs on the Rosetta stone. In medicine he was a distinguished physician. In music he invented a technique for tuning keyboard instruments.

The “Last Man Who Knew Everything” was one of the most versatile minds of the 19th century.

Possible Preaching Angle:

The world gives great praise to brilliant minds, such as Thomas Young, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Stephen Hawking. But God considers the wisdom of the world as foolishness (1 Cor. 1:20) because it overlooks the One who was truly wise – “One greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42, Luke 11:31). Only Jesus could show us the true meaning of life, true wisdom, and could give us eternal life beyond the grave.

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