Tanzania map:
A Sign From God?
Jun 18, 2004

An atheist, a professor of theology, and a christian physicist sit down for lunch.  It sounds like a bad joke, but that was my afternoon.

One day after writing about loneliness, I find that I am actually lonely.  I've been trapped in Moshi for the past few days with a cold.  The book that I'm reading didn't really interest me.  I've responded to all of my email and I'm tired of my computer beating me at chess.  I needed someone to talk to. 

I was happy to find a group of Mizungu (white people) having lunch at my guesthouse.  They turned out to be missionaries and the lunch of course turned into a religious discussion, and I always love a good religious debate.

Have you read the "Da Vinci Code"?  I found the alternative Christian history presented in the book to be fascinating.  I asked the professor of Theology about his views on that.  The physicist was studying quantum mechanics and came to a logical conclusion that Jesus was the Lord.  I asked him about that, and then couldn't resist asking him if he took LSD.  All in all, it was a very interesting conversation. 

I felt a little bit weak during lunch, but wasn't going to let that interfere with a good discussion.  I am far too stubborn to back down from a religious debate, due to weakness - whether that weakness be real or imagined; physical or mental. 

After the missionaries leave, it suddenly occurs to me that I have a fever.  I return to my room and check my temperature.  The thermometer reads 99 degrees. 

Tanzania.  Weakness and a sudden onset of fever.  It seems likely that I have malaria.  I'm not afraid of malaria though.  Other missionaries, whom I met my first day in Tanzania taught me how to treat it.  I have the correct medication in my backpack.  And the missionaries daughter, who had case of malaria, said it wasn't that bad.

I have a different fear.  I had just finish a religious discussion with pious Christians.  I walked out with a bible in hand (travel sized - given to me by the missionaries).  The missionaries were smart guys, but I was arrogantly positive in my belief that there is no god.  But now, this fever seems suspiciously like a sign from he whom I know doesn't exist.  God himself might have just smited me down with malaria.  If there was ever to be a sign from God; this is it! I wasn't so afraid of the smiting, but was nervous that this thought would haunt me for years, constantly nipping away at previously so self-assured atheism. 

With "could this be a sign from god?" running through my head, I need to focus on finding a malaria test.  The hotel reception says that no one in Moshi does malaria tests.  They're useless.  Lonely Planet says for emergencies go to the expensive clinic 3 miles outside of town.  But, I've had years of travel experience and decided that with just a little bit of effort, I'd find one near by.  The pharmacy across the street doesn't do them, but they direct me to the next pharmacy further down the street.  The second pharmacy doesn't do them either, and direct me to some place with a name I can't pronounce which is even further down the street.  Feverish, I keep walking. 

Finally, I stop at my favorite internet shop and they help me out.  One of the ladies takes me down a narrow alley to a hidden lab with a sign only in Swahili.  I'm told that the price for a malaria test is 4000 shillings ($4).  That seems a bit high, but with my health and soul both in danger, I decide that it's worth the price.  Then the lab tech corrects herself.  "I mean 400 shillings" ($0.40).  She pricks my finger and disappear into a back room with the slide. 

5 minutes later, the nurse reappears with a big rubber stamp in hand.



I'll take that as a double negative.  No malaria and no sign from god.  My health and atheism look like they'll both survive today. 

The mystery fever hung around all day.  It's 8pm now and finally broke.  I'm signing off now and heading to dinner.

[to be continued...]

Hollman - Jun 18, 2004

The human prediliction to relate apparent cause and effect might be the reason we invented the concept of God (or at least the supernatural) in the first place.

So in a way, that is a "sign from God" chuckle chuckle.


That's some strange logic, and a strange sense of humor you've got there Dave.  :-)


FIkry Payo - Jul 31, 2004

Hi, i am from Thailand ,indeed i am very glad and proud of ur achievement,especailly when i read that u didn,t critise any country that u have been,especially Thailand.well,i am curious to know what you have discovered from your experience about God?Do u believe in God?i think this should be interested to find out too.thanks.and waiting for your answer.


Actually, I think that I have criticized Thailand - though not harshly. 

And, no I'm pretty sure that men have invented a god to fill a bunch of needs - especially the fear of death.


abby - Sept 22, 2004

its my hope that your okey am okey also,where are you now my friend ?
yuors friend abby from arusha

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