I came home from work Monday evening and discovered my wife sick in bed. She had dried blood on her lips and all over the inside of her mouth. When I talked to her, she would look at me, but she would not give me any sign that she knew what I was saying.
I called 911.
When the paramedics arrived, they said that she was running a temperature of 106.4 degrees, and that they needed to get her to the hospital. I spent a long evening wondering if she would live and, even if she did live, whether the Lesley that I knew would still exist in her body.
She is in the Intensive Care Unit, but she is doing much better. Right now she is sleeping, and I am taking advantage of this opportunity to do some writing.
One issue that came to my mind this evening is that his is precisely the type of situation in which others would begin to pray, and in which atheists are supposed to lose their 'faith' in a godless universe and start pleading for divine help. People who think such things may be expected to ask whether I felt any inclination to pray. Did I have any interest in clutching at divine straws and saying, "God, if you do exist, please do not take my wife?"
The answer is, "No."
Not even a little bit.
Prayer will not help. Whether Lesley gets better or not -- whether we will get to finish out a long life together -- depends on one thing. It depends on trained professionals who know what happens when certain chemicals mix with the chemicals in the human body at certain temperatures. That knowledge is what will determine the difference between life and death, and the quality of life if there is one.
From the moment that I discovered her at home, I have sought to save her life soly by relying on the discoveries of those "atheistic materialist scientists" have been making since they started looking for real-world material explanations for events.
Note: I will use the term "atheist materialist scientist" in this blog entry, even though many scientists are not atheists and many theists make good scientists. This phrase, "atheist materialist scientist" is a derogatory term invented by people who want to denigrate science by associating it with something that a majority of the people already hate -- atheists. This is a tried and true marketing technique used to manipulate perceptions -- to associate what one wants others to hate with something they already hate. In this case, they want to exploit the fact that 'atheist' in the minds of most people is a word much like "nigger" or "kike" -- a term of hate. Still, I will use their term.
As I said, the first thing that I did was call 911. Over the course of the past few centuries, "atheist materialist scientists" were not content to say that nature was 'irreducibly complex.' They sought natural explanations for events in the real world. In doing this, they discovered the powers of electromagnetism. They learned how to set up an electromagnetic field in one area and use it to send a transmission through space that will set off an electromagnetic field in another location, and do so in a way that transmits information. In this way, I was able to quickly give information to rescue teams set up for just such an emergency.
Using this technology, I summoned help. Within five minutes, I had a dozen people in my house trained to deal with just this type of an emergency.
I would also like to note how this situation refutes the claim that 'without God, all things are permissible.' Without God, atheists have far more reason to set up institutions like 911 and rescue squads and moral institutions that say that it is better to help than to ignore those in need. With no God to touch Lesley with a loving hand and save her, her fate was in the hands of my fellow citizens, with whom I must be able to communicate efficiently, and who have to want to help her. Without a God, we need heroes more than ever.
They arrived in vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. Over those same centuries in which "atheist materialist scientists" were studying electromagnetism, they also studied how gasses behave under different temperatures and pressures, and of how certain liquids, in the presence of oxygen and heat, create gas through combustion. Using this information, they learned to squirt liquid into a cylinder, add a spark, create a gas under pressure, and use that pressure to turn the wheels of a vehicle. Within minutes after I made my call, they were parked outside my house, and a team of individuals seeking to provide aid to those in need were inside the house looking after my wife.
When we got to the hospital, I was most grateful for hordes of people who had abandoned the idea that disease was the 'irreducibly complex' product of a perfectly benevolent God. It was once the case that the church said that we should not fight disease and illness -- that doing so was 'playing God', and that meant it was wrong. Countless people suffered and died under this philosophy. Fortunately, I lived in an era when people 'play God' on a daily basis, and were willing to take on the task of seeing to it that my wife, who would otherwise have died, would live instead. If that is not 'playing God', then nothing is.
I did not want a bunch of witch doctors with painted bodies chanting and dancing around the bed spreading incense as a way of asking God to save Lesley. Instead, I wanted her surrounded by people who were gifted at understanding the findings of those "atheist materialist scientists" who had been studying how the physical human body works. Those were the people who discovered that high temperature had a material explanation -- typically infection. Other "atheist materialist scientists" trying to discover how these bacteria live and die discovered a number of antibiotics, which they started putting into Lesley right away.
She is still not out of the woods. The fever is broken, and she is coherent again. However, there are some residual complications that we are concerned with.
There is no value in praying or asking a God that does not exist for any favors. What Lesley needs are people who understand the atheistic materialistic explanations for how the human body operates -- people who can then look at what is not working well and figure out how to correct the problems.
One could then respond that this is just another type of "faith" in another type of religion.
That's absurd. This "atheistic materialistic scientist" looks for results that can be replicated, and then selects those methods that produce the same results.
If only religion would seek to subject their faith to scientific tests in order to discover who is right and who is wrong, rather than resorting to bombs, guns, and laws that aim to diseducate children before they are old enough to understand what is being done to them. I have never heard of a religious group dividing malaria patients into two groups, subjecting one to the rituals of Religion A, while subjecting the second to the rituals of Religion B, to see which group God favors over the other. This would be one way to discover if God is a Christian or Muslim.
However, these tests do not provide any meaningful results. All religions are equally impotent. However, if we divide patients between one group that is prayed over, and another that obtains the benefits acquired by those "atheist materialist scientists" -- antibiotics, CAT scans, MRIs, saline solutions, dopamine, and surgery -- we see a significant difference in recovery rates.
To the degree that evangelicals attempt to denigrate "atheist materialist science", to that degree these evangelicals are putting barriers between the people whose lives and well-being are at risk and the answers that might actually help them.
It does not matter to me whether the doctor or the nurse believes in a God. I am not saying that a person must be an atheist to be a good doctor or a nurse. In fact, I will insist that such a statement is false. However, the good doctor or nurse does have to be able to read, understand, and apply the findings of the "atheist materialist scientists" who are working to discover the material causes and effects of changes in and to the human body.
Ultimately, the biggest threat to Lesley's life and well-being is ignorance. She will live or die according to how much those "atheist materialist scientists" have figured out about people in her position. She will live or die depending on how much her doctors and nurses understand of what has been learned. How much they understand will depend on how much society has promoted and encouraged its members to study whe findings of these "atheist materialist scientists."
I am not writing these blog entries to present cute little word games. These are issues of life and death -- real lives, and real death, and the quality of the lives that we can live.
Aftermath: March 15, 2006
My wife is home from the hospital and resting. She is missing a gall bladder, and now has a pacemaker. After the incision to install the pacemaker heals, the doctors say that she will be able to continue her life with no restrictions (other than avoiding strong magnetic fields).
The research that those "atheist materialist scientists" conducted -- looking for natural causes for natural events -- were entirely responsible for the fact that she has come home healthy. Those who want their loved ones to come home healthy as well have every reason to make sure that those "atheist materialist scientists" are able to continue to do their work unimpeded.
Indeed, anybody who cares about curing the sick needs to care that we have more, not fewer, "atheist materialist scientists" out there.