[FoRK] Godless

Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> on Fri May 11 15:22:43 PDT 2007

I used to dabble at fiction from time to time...  there's a story  
line that's been sort of hanging out in the back of my mind for years  
that presents an interesting dilemma related to the topics we've been  
discussing lately.  Let me lay it out as a kind of  
gedankenexperiment, and see what people have to say.

Assume that there is an agent --- chemical, microbial / viral,  
nanotechnological, memetic, it doesn't matter --- that has the  
following characteristics.  It has perfect epidemiology in humans:   
any human, when they encounter this agent, will become "infected."   
Any human they subsequently interact with will also become infected,  
with absolute certainty.  The infection has the following effect:  it  
makes its host permanently unable to have any sort of religious faith  
whatsoever.  It has no other effects of any kind, good or bad.   
Further, it is transmitted perfectly through the germ-line, in  
perpetuity;  perhaps it's retroviral, and the provirus infects germ- 
line cells.  The specific mechanics are unimportant to the concept,  
to the dilemma / thought experiment, and to the contemplated story.   
In effect, it is a perfect "plague" of atheism.

Imagine that you are the sole possessor of this agent;  a single vial  
of a clear liquid that vaporizes and diffuses when exposed to air.   
All you have to do to completely rid the planet of the plague of  
religion, now and forever, is simply break that vial in an enclosed,  
crowded space.  You're standing in the food court at the local  
shopping mall.  You've got the vial in your pocket.

What do you do?


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