Here Comes the Virus

If you’re like me, you hear American government officials and experts assure us that there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to Ebola and you wonder if they just don’t want us to panic. It spreads like HIV (and even then for only a few days) and therefore is highly controllable. Most fears are overblown, fear-mongering, especially if Donald Trump says it.

And then you watch the news, hear the doctors talk about it being out of control, and well… c’mon it sure seems like Ebola spreads a bit easier than HIV. Like one comment tweeted to the CDC, I feel like asking:

“We are told it can only spread through contact with bodily fluids-similar to HIV. But seems more contagious than HIV? Why?”

The CDC assured the tweeter that yes Ebola is spread like HIV and you need close contact with bodily fluids, and then only in a certain window of time.  Ok. Granted.

But…ummmm….

That’s not exactly like HIV, which takes more than mere “close contact.”

HIV is NOT spread through touch, tears, sweat, or saliva.  So says WebMD anyway.

Ebola evidently is.

The bodily fluids that do transmit HIV -like blood for instance- “must come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into your bloodstream (by a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur.”  So says the government. I added the italics.

The CDC, however, makes no mention of Ebola needing to come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue.  To catch Ebola, the CDC says you need only come in “direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person.”  They go on to explain that it spreads in hospitals where people are not wearing “protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves.”

Then when you go to the Canadian Health Department, it gets scary.  They add that people are at risk when, and I quote: “handling the bodies of deceased humans in preparation for funerals, suggesting possible transmission through aerosol droplets.” That explains the need for gloves and “protective equipment.”

Then shockingly, they follow up with, “In the laboratory, infection through small-particle aerosols has been demonstrated in primates, and airborne spread among humans is strongly suspected, although it has not yet been conclusively demonstrated.”

Again I added the italics because I was sitting there going “whaaaat???”

They end by saying poor hygienic conditions can aid the spread of the virus.

Ok, maybe the Canadians are fear-mongering despite the fact they are not named Donald Trump.  I don’t know. I’m not a researcher or any sort of an expert on Ebola or other pathogens.  Neither is it surprising that there is conflicting information about a disease we haven’t fully understood yet.

Nevertheless, it seems a bit obvious that Ebola is spread, and is spreading easier and faster than HIV does. The amount of close contact it takes to spread Ebola is much more casual, which is one reason why doctors don’t have to wear spacesuit-looking gear when taking care of a patient with HIV.

Hopefully, we will get all of these things ironed out, and the US government is not just trying to make us feel better.  Although, between you and me, don’t you just feel like it’s just a matter of time before someone in America gets carried into a hospital and tests positive? I hope not. I’m probably just thinking like this because I’m trying to quit diet soda.

So onto the big question:

Why God? Why did you ever invent anything like HIV or Ebola? Or E Coli for that matter??

If Genesis is correct and God created everything, then one would predict in the beginning everything was “good” like the Bible said.  Since then, however, everything would be breaking down.  The Bible says this started when sin entered the world.  The universe might have been created in perfect balance at one time, but when death and decay became part of the equation, we started to get more and more out of balance.  So a creation point of view would predict viruses or bacteria would get worse over time because they would break down, mutate, or get out of where they were supposed to be.

There’s an article on this you might be interested in, so I won’t go into as much detail, but suffice it to say that many viruses actually serve purposes, or at least didn’t kill us.  One virus was recently discovered that almost every human being has, which scientists theorize is meant to keep the bacteria inside our gut (we need bacteria) in balance.  In fact without bacteria, the world would die. Turns out at least some viruses play a bit of symbiotic role with them and thus… are actually necessary.  The implication is originally, before mutations took their toll, or the environment changed for the worse, that all these things were in balance, living where they were suppose to live, and doing what they were supposed to do.  You have “good”  E coli inside you right now, but there is one strain which lost some DNA somewhere that will make you sick now.  Creation would predict that sort of thing.

Which means that if Genesis is right, then Ebola would be expected to have had some purpose, or some place where it could exist and not harm humans.  For instance, the ocean is full of viruses but sharks and sea life still exist. (However, mutations or changes in that balance could also cause once harmless viruses or bacteria to cause problems. Like with the starfish dying off.)

So why did God create Ebola? I have no idea, but I bet in the beginning it didn’t harm anyone.  I bet  eventually we will discover it played a helpful role somehow. And ironically, if people followed God’s instructions on life, food, etc… We would have avoided many of those viruses. Weird, huh? It’s almost like he knew….

See, HIV didn’t wipe out the primates where it originally lived, and syphilis wasn’t killing sheep right and left either.  Originally, things were in more balance.

Or as the Bible said, it was good.

Since sin entered the world, however, the earth is slowly “wearing out like a garment”. (Psalm 102:25-26 and Isaiah 51:6)

I’m convinced God is letting the ship sink slowly (the earth) so people will look for the lifeboats.

A Cultural Tipping Point

coexist2Politically, one of the questions after this season’s presidential election is has the nation changed?  Has the electorate changed?  Mitt Romney crudely mentioned that there is a certain percentage of people who weren’t going to vote for him no matter what, and the Presidential re-election team worked very hard to marshal entire segments of the population to vote for him overwhelmingly.  In the end however, people wondered if maybe some of the traditionally Republican ideas and stances have been rejected by society to the point that a “tipping” point has been reached?  That’s what Ann Coulter called it.   Bill O’Reilly offered that this isn’t a traditional America anymore, and Newt Gingrich said “we were clearly wrong on a whole range of fronts.”

It’s an interesting possibility to consider and those who are involved in politics for a living are studying this very carefully.

Whether you agree or disagree with the idea of a political tipping point, perhaps we should consider a “tipping point” in world-views, especially in regards to spiritual beliefs. In fact, such a tipping point may have already come and gone. Specifically, I’m talking about reaching the end of our journey as a culture to that place where the Bible is assumed to be full of errors, fairy tales and myths- not the place where this argued seriously, but the place where this is assumed, regardless of your arguments.

I’m talking about a tipping point where society as a whole assumes that science has conclusively proven the Bible wrong  and arguing evolution or Noah’s flood is assumed to be impossible.  In such a society, people would only go to listen to a debate at a university over the age of the earth for instance, because they enjoy seeing the uneducated, unevolved creationist receive a public flogging.  They don’t go because they want to hear the other side of the argument because they don’t believe there IS another side of the argument.  Oh they would be surprised of course, but the fact that “surprise” exists at all points to the tipping point.

It’s a tipping point where society assumes that no truth of any religion can be believed over some other religion, where the only truly enlightened people who exist would be those who accept cultural notions on same-sex marriage or the non-existence of hell, or etc…, and where the only truly intelligent people would be those who reject any sort of literal Christianity, or especially a literal Bible.

I’m generalizing, of course.  The details are more complex, but it’s nevertheless worth asking ourselves how we might respond to such an environment, just as politicians are trying to figure out how to respond to an electorate that seems to have changed.

That’s the thing about tipping points; you usually don’t notice them until they’ve passed.  You wake up one day and things don’t work like they did.  In sports we use phrases like “he’s lost a step.”  Where did he lose it?  No one knows. Suddenly your favorite athlete isn’t his young dominating self anymore.  And the truth is, in sports you don’t get it back very easily, and eventually, you can’t get it back at all.

The Bible talked about how the faith of people as a whole, tends to lose a step.  Jesus said, speaking of the future: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved,” -Matthew 24:12-13

Paul warned Timothy the church would lose a step, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” -II Timothy 4:3-4

And in 2 Thessalonians 2, the Bible says the world will lose a step.  “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs…” -literally the word “rebellion” there means a “falling away” would occur before the “day” of the Lord, which, in Bible terms, is the end of the world as we know it.  Why, or how, could a falling away, or a rebellion from God happen?

Is it because as a culture, somewhere along the way, more and more people stopped arguing over the word of God in the Bible, and stopped listening to the debate about God, and stopped digging in to find the truth for themselves, and simply bought into the assumption, the worldview really, which claims the Bible is a myth, claims that IF God exists he’s whatever we make him, and claims any religion that talks about accountability, or judgment, or sin …is dangerous and wrong?

So I wonder, sitting here in the back seat, are we there yet? Is this what the majority of our culture now believes in a large enough portion to win the public debate -by default?  If so, and in many places it is, then Christians should realize the people in our world and nation often have a different viewpoint, and a different set of assumptions than we do.  We aren’t always starting on the same page.  And rather than putting ourselves in the place of God and roundly condemning them, more and more it is becoming important to show what Christianity is all about, to graciously explain what Jesus is all about, and be able to listen so that we can see what they are all about. It’s always easier to talk to someone when you know where they are coming from.

That said…

in society as a whole I don’t think we can shrink from the challenges either.

In fact, I think it becomes more important to challenge the very foundations of a world-view without God.  Where the Bible is rejected, defend it on the very substance.  Where creation is scoffed at, ask the hard questions and shake those assumptions.  Where God is maligned, defend Him with thoughtfulness.  Where Christians are condemned, humbly admit our sin when it is true, but show Christ always in love, service, and selflessness.

 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. -I Peter 2:11-12

The Christian tradition of the American culture is changing.  We should be smart and bold in how we stand for Jesus.