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?
Actually, Egypt was significantly advanced. They performed surgery on a surprisingly high level. Plus, monotheism seems to be, given the current state of research, an Egyptian invention. The problem with McMillen’s book is that it is… not just outdated. It’s simply irrelevant today. Many of these things can be found in ancient China already.
That said, years ago I stumbled over an interesting point. The Chinese language is basically unchanged. Has been like this for a very long time. There is of course the issue of, literally, tens of thousands of letters (if you dig really into it you will find letters that have been used only by certain people in certain documents, but they exist.) But the point was, since Chinese hasn’t changed a lot/at all, wouldn’t it be the language of god?
Btw, who, in history, had the most advanced bathing cultures? Not the monotheists. Rome was pretty strong. But Japan had totally nailed it down. When the first Europeans came to Japan they still believed that bathing makes you sick.
I have a very simple counter. Really simple.
See, I’m going through this from personal experience. I don’t care about some “holy book” (which is full of logic fallacies, was written by humans and has a significant amount of lies in it), no matter what religion. These books all exist for only one purpose: to execute power.
And face it, every religion works the same. You have a god. You have a small group of officials who are allowed to perform all the rituals. And you have a huge group of essentially rightless sheep.
I am a voluntary paramedic. Have been on it for 20 years. In those 20 years I haven’t seen anything that convinces me even remotely that god in any claimed form exists. I’m even tempted to say I’ve seen more death and pain than all people coming here together. I remember all cases we dealt with. Of course some are more memorable than others.
One I remember in particular. It was a weekend night. We were called out to a traffic accident. The classic drunk driver issue. The only problem was that in this case the drunk driver had hit another car. Bullseye, really. Both cars were wrecks. The drunk driver somehow managed to get out of it with a scratch. Literally. The other car, well… Family of four. Father, mother, two kids. All four DOA.
So the bastard gets away, and four innocent people simply die on their way home from holidays.
It gets better than that. The drunk continued driving like that afterwards. When the laws were finally made stricter his licence was eventually pulled. Then he continuted to do it with a so called moped-car. He didn’t change at all. He just carried on.
So… where was god? Any god. Any god of those, literally, millions of gods active on this planet right now (thanks Shinto for that.) He was nowhere to be seen.
So yeah, forgive me if I simply don’t believe, cause I’ve seen absolutely nothing to convince me. Life is a chance. Such incidents prove it. Today we live, tomorrow we’re dead. I can go to work tomorrow and get hit by a truck and die. Today matters. Tomorrow is, well, far away.
As for the usual afterlife thing… I don’t care. Really I don’t. What comes after death is something we all will find out soon enough. I think we should focus on life instead. Death comes soon enough.
Now I have to get some wine. It’s my post-partum depression. I should be over it next week.
and while we’re talking about religion
Yeah, I just saw that. Even Obama’s appointees couldn’t stomach a blatant attack on the 1st Amendment. Too bad they don’t care about other liberties.
Edo, There appears to be lots of disturbing injustices, but God is just because of divine grace and forgiveness of sins thru his Son, a member of the tribe. If we were perfect and without sin we wouldn’t need God and He wouldn’t have created us.
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