My parents became Christian around the time of my birth, and Dad starting preaching as soon as he could. Both parents are very intelligent and well read. Mom is competent at math and science (she spent years as a radiological tech) but doesn’t enjoy them as Dad (chemical engineering degree, a wide range and many years of technical work) does. He doesn’t enjoy them the way I do. Though of course he never had the free time.
Rationalist readers must wonder, “how do such smart and knowledgeable people turn into religious fanatics?” First, of course, they must notice the itch: what is it that separates us from the animals? Is there a purpose? Is there anything else like us, out there, anywhere? If life does have meaning…what is it? What does it all mean?
That’s the itch. I’m sure it’s part of being human, but some people never seem to notice it. Others feel it but successfully ignore it, or savagely try to drug or drown it.
Some of us can’t help but scratch. So naturally my Dad’s furious scratching led him to Christ through the mysteries of sanitary engineering.
Er…I guess you had to be there?
Anyway, that’s what happened. I’ll skip over his research. If you’d like to recreate all his work with secular sources and historical records, I’ll let him know. He’d love to help.
Long story short: millennia before the scientific method, at a time when enlightened Egyptwas treating wounds with crap poltrices…a pissant, semi-nomadic tribe suddenly began numerous, advanced sanitary techniques: separation of waste, segregation of infected, quarantines which accounted for latency periods, etc. etc. These methods remain better than most of humanity has ever adopted.
Neat trick, eh? Skip the scientific method, avoid that costly research and development phase, just do what works from the start.
This was a tribe of supergeniuses, then? Um…no. Definitely not. Only one thing was special about them: they were real religious weirdos. Monotheists, if you can believe it. And their deity was apparently really anal-compulsive about keeping His words and their records truthful. So what do offical records claim as the source of the marvelous new health practices?
Why…Him, of course. Do these things, He said, and you will suffer “none of these diseases”.
And thus, a truly maddening itch…where the f did that knowledge come from?
If you think, “well, obviously not some fantasy ‘God’”…you’re exactly where my Dad was. What, you think he researched this crazy story believing it was true? He expected to disprove it. He failed. Just as the man who’d given him that book, None of These Diseases, had earlier failed to do.
And that’s why I promise he’d love to see you try and succeed where he failed. For the record, my Dad’s pretty sharp. Maybe you’re smarter than him…
…do you care to take the chance?