Archive for January 7th, 2008

(P.O.O.) The Problem of Odor

dirty diaper One of the more challenging issues for theists in their ongoing debate with skeptical atheists has been the Problem of Evil.  Often referred to as the P.O.E., it asks the very reasonable question; if God is good then why would he permit evil?  The typical Christian response says that it was man who, by his rebellion against God, brought evil into being. This has met with varying degrees of acceptance but it’s the answer that makes the most sense to me.

It’s hard to find any evidence of ‘evil’ that has not been the result of the selfish actions of men and women.  Even natural calamities and physical aberrations can be rationally explained as the result of the untold centuries that mankind has lived out of harmony with God’s nature.  When pressed, most moral people will admit to finding at least something repugnant about any ‘evil’ act.  From office gossip shared at the water cooler to the pimp who beats the teenage runaway, they are all overlaid with a patina of dirtiness, what you could expect from something done against God’s will.

But, all seriousness aside, there is another question that is not quite so “easily” explained as the POE.  What about those human habits and functions that are utterly vile, repulsive and disgusting but are natural and normal processes of life?  You may be too polite to bring this up yourselves but each and every one of you knows exactly what I am talking about.  Why are human (and most animal) bodies so filthy? If God is good why did he make us so…GROSS? Even the most adorable baby early on in life becomes quite the foul little thing.  (My wife claims that as soon as my children were weaned off of baby food I could never be found at diaper changing time. This is patently untrue. In fact there is a photo of me changing their diapers, wearing over my nose and mouth a red bandana that had been thoroughly doused with Old Spice.)

I believe this to be a very relevant theological question and was going to call it the P.O.P. – the Problem of Poo. But the POP has already been taken. So instead I will call this the POO – the Problem of Odor.

Of course when God walked (perhaps very carefully) with Adam and Eve in the Garden there were no diapers to be changed yet (or were there?)– But they were still eating of “every seed-bearing plant… and every tree that has fruit with seed in it” to be found in the Garden (and we all know what a diet of just fruits and vegetables is like, right?).  Perhaps prior to the fall they were somehow physically ‘different’ in that their bodily wastes were not quite so offensive (like a rabbit that has no problem eating its food more than once).  Maybe they were 100% efficient when it came to digestion, their only waste products being a little H2O, carbon dioxide and a few grams of ash. Or perhaps their waste was like ours but somehow ‘nicer’ – not yet tainted by the fall.

But if their physiology was just like ours, how was this handled in Paradise?  I don’t know about you but my vision of Paradise doesn’t leave any room for Port-A-Potties.  Of course they wouldn’t have access to facilities as modern as that – they were still primitives living off the land.  Though the Bible doesn’t say so, the first invention may very well have been a crude entrenching tool.  Alternatively, perhaps they were allowed to venture out of the Garden a couple of times each day to take care of business, leaving their nastiness in someone else’s backyard (something that most of us have continued to do for centuries).

But back to my point; couldn’t God have come up with a better way of packaging our bodily effluvia and excreta?  I mean, it wouldn’t have to be too fetching – that probably would’ve been counterproductive.  Still, maybe something more along the lines of Brussel Sprouts would’ve made the point with a lot less nausea. Maybe sauerkraut. Or Kimchi, even.  That’s all I’m asking.  And I’m asking it for all of you people who have wondered about this yourselves but didn’t have the cojones to bring it up.

SHARP IRON – “Where we aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions”


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