Ebola, Dinosaurs, and Deuteronomy

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Ebola, Dinosaurs, and Deuteronomy

Post by Gee »

While posting in Bill Wiltrack's thread on Ebola, I mentioned that I thought I saw a connection between Ebola and the Laws in Deuteronomy. Bill asked me to expand on that idea, so here it is. A little late, but here.

Ebola, Dinosaurs, and Deuteronomy -- is there a connection? Maybe only in my mind, but there seems to be some coincidence that may warrant further scrutiny, so please consider my following thoughts.

Like most people, I followed the news articles about Ebola -- a frighteningly efficient killing disease. From what I understand, the virus that causes the disease, Ebola, is naturally carried by fruit bats, but does not infect them or turn into disease until ingested by another specie. It is thought that half-eaten food was dropped by fruit bats, then monkeys and apes picked it up, ate it, and became infected. Humans were then infected by eating the bats, monkeys, and/or apes. When I first read this explanation, I thought to myself, Are bats getting careless with their food? Why is this happening now, why not all along? Or is this truly a new virus?

Why would the monkeys want the old half-eaten fruit on the ground when there is fresh fruit in the trees? Monkeys and apes are not generally considered to be scavengers, are they? On the other hand, when there is a shortage of food, most species can become scavengers. Was there a food shortage? Maybe. Between encroaching civilization, deforestation, and the droughts that have plagued the area, the different species are being squeezed into sharing smaller living spaces. It seems feasible that a monkey or ape would be sitting in a tree protecting its hoard of food while a group of bats start buzzing around, so in defense, the monkey/ape might grab a bat and bite it -- not to eat it -- but in defense of the food supply. To me, this seems like a much more likely scenario and would infect the monkey/ape immediately. But no matter which scenario is more accurate, it seems that a food shortage and the sharing of a smaller space may be behind the cause of this transference of the virus and the ensuing disease.

We have long known that famine seems to trigger disease, and that disease can come from many sources. What I have been wondering is if disease is another way that nature self-balances. Is it possible that there are mechanisms built into different species that can be triggered by a food shortage and a fight for food? Is this one of the ways that nature uses viruses? If this is so, then it would have to attack the larger specie, because the larger specie would consume more food. When cataclysmic events or overpopulation causes a shortage of food, the specie that consumes the most food would have to be neutralized or diminished in order to re-balance the system in nature. Disease could do this.

Of course, if this were true, it would have happened before. Did it? Maybe. Since we have only had science for the last few hundred years, it would be difficult to know for sure, but there have been theories. I am reminded of the extinction of the dinosaurs and the theory that disease played a part in that drama. No one disputes the cataclysmic events that preceded the extinction of the dinosaurs, but because of the way that they died, there is a theory that disease played a part.

The events that preceded their demise were world wide and would have seriously diminished the food supply -- this is not disputed. If this diminished food supply caused a change in behavior and eating habits, which is likely, then it could have also triggered the transference of viruses not unlike the Ebola virus. If this happened, then we might find that many dinosaurs died together en mass, which we found, and is what prompted the theory in the first place. It would also be likely that the larger species would die if this was a re-balancing of nature, which is also what happened. Because this event was world wide and long lasting, it would cause the extinction of most of the dinosaurs -- or at least the large dinosaurs -- which is what happened.

I could not find a link to the original theory that I read years ago, because I forgot the name of the author, but the following link is close and addresses disease, so it may be helpful.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 090702.htm

But there is a lot of time between the extinction of the dinosaurs and now, so is there evidence of this idea in that time? Well, a lot of civilizations came and went, and there was no science for most of that time, so the few records that we have come to us from religion. Most religions seem to have ideas of foods that we should not eat for various reasons. Since there is no evidence of "God", space aliens, or time travelers, I have to assume that these reasons are based on experience and observations. If eating some things seemed to trigger bad things happening, or disease, then it would be important to remember and keep that information.

These food restrictions would have accumulated over thousands of years, in good times and bad, during feast and famine, then passed down from each generation in the same way that our parents teach us about poison ivy. It must have been thought to be rather important to be incorporated into our religions and remembered. Maybe life threatening?

Deuteronomy and Leviticus, the Books of Laws, in the Bible have fascinated me for many years. Once you get past the religious terminology, there is a tremendous amount of information that still has value today. I first read these Books decades ago and was fascinated by the laws that seemed to deal with hygiene in a time when germs were virtually unknown. The Middle Ages would have been much more pleasant if someone would have opened that book. Years later, after studying law, I again read Deuteronomy and was surprised to discover that our Common law, moral law, is deeply rooted in Deuteronomy.

But I have never understood the laws regarding food and why certain species are acceptable to eat. Considering that the laws regarding hygiene and social regulation, are so very valid, it seems unlikely that the laws regarding which species we are allowed to eat, were selected willy-nilly. There was a reason, or maybe reasons, why we are not supposed to use certain species as food.

Deuteronomy clearly states that we are not to eat species with a "padded" foot, and that we must limit our diet to animals that have a "cloven hoof and chew the cud". We are also required to limit our seafood diet to those that have "fins and scales". So monkeys, apes, and fruit bats are all out. One of the first ideas that struck me was that the more intelligent species were not to be used as food, along with scavengers. Most religious diets exclude scavengers, so this was not unusual.

The more intelligent species, the ones that are likely to be self-aware, were out, which led me to ideas about consciousness. Predators seemed to be out, whereas what are considered prey animals were OK. Most, if not all, of the allowable food species are swarming, flocking, herding, or schooling species, but some of these are excluded like honey bees and bats. What I found most interesting is that the "cloven hoof and chew the cud", and the "fins and scales" requirements look very much like DNA type classifications. Is it important to eat species that are less like us? Or species that do not have the same food requirements that we do?

We did not have science thousands of years ago, so these restrictions are the people's "best guesses", but it remains true that if the food restrictions in Deuteronomy were followed, Ebola would not have happened. And if it did happen by some freak circumstance, the only preventative to its spread, at that time, would have been the careful handling of body fluids and hygiene, as dictated in Leviticus. These are facts. This implies that these people did have some experience with dangerous diseases.

I chose a link to Leviticus, rather than Deuteronomy, because it has all of the food restrictions and hygiene information in one chapter. If you look at Chapter 11, you will find all of the information. Chapter 12 deals with a woman's blood issues after giving birth. Chapters 13 and 14 deal with the diagnosis of diseases like leprosy, and Chapter 15 has more laws regarding ritualized cleansing, so this is all about health issues. It is interesting to note that not only are the people required to wash after handling "unclean" meat and blood, but they are also required to changed clothes and to wash or dispose of anything that the meat or blood touched. This is very much like what we would do today, except that we have better protections and better cleansers.
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bible_(Ki ... /Leviticus

As the world becomes smaller and humanity fills in more spaces, there will be food shortages for us and for other species, so will there be more of these diseases triggered? It seems possible.

Please post your thoughts on the above.

Philosophy Explorer
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Re: Ebola, Dinosaurs, and Deuteronomy

Post by Philosophy Explorer »

Actually Gee, with new vaccines coming out, we may not have to worry about Ebola anymore.

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