Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Old Knowledge

Paul Zechariahson walked out of the brick and glass building that housed the old knowledge. He glanced about carefully to make sure he was unobserved. The unbelievers hated the old knowledge, and even many of the congregation regarded it as suspect. He moved gingerly, flattening himself against the wall, until he was well away from the building. He almost stumbled over the old women sitting in a circle, chanting. They were seated around chalk marks drawn on the sidewalk, obviously casting some sort of spell. Perhaps a medicinal spell against the sweeping death. The unbelievers feared the old cities and stayed away from them as a rule. But they considered them magical places and came there to cast important spells.

As he walked, he contemplated the old knowledge. It was dangerous, but he believed that all truth was ultimately from God. It had taken a long time of study to understand it, looking for more elementary books, even children's books, to explain the more difficult books. But he felt he was making progress.

As he headed down the main street he ran into a procession of young women in ornate, provocative clothes. From their dress, what there was of it, he concluded they were worshipers of Isis. It was time for various spring-rites, Isis among them. One of the young women glanced at him and smiled seductively. Then she saw the cross and fish on his belt and jerked away, averting her gaze.

There were many theories, even in old times, as to where the old knowledge came from. Paul was convinced that it originated from his own beliefs. He believed in an orderly God who had created the world and that therefore the world could be studied and made sense of. More importantly, he believed in a God who had become a human being. And not just any man, but a carpenter, a man that works with his hands. This had moved people away from the idea of abstract thinking to the idea of testing things directly. This had proved a better approach to understanding nature. But over time, the old knowledge itself had seemed to take first place in people's heart over the God who created it.

As he left the city he crept slowly through the undergrowth, trying to maintain a low profile. He was going through the territory of the hunter tribe, and they had severely abused several of the sisters. He was not at all sure his own gender was a safeguard. He had run into their hunting parties before, but had made it into the bushes before they saw him.

The old knowledge had produced many good things, but it also had made great evils possible and had had unintended consequences. It also, after being detached from God, had become mechanistic and ended up denying the existence of genuine humanity and leading to the idea that truth was relative. Then came The Great Revolt, where people rebelled against the old knowledge and rejected it as evil.

Paul made his way into his own hut and hurried to the workroom he had built hidden in the back. The smell of the mold he had cultured pervaded the room. On the corner of the table sat a crude hypodermic needle with a liquid in it that could change everything. It could help heal the sweeping death and various other diseases. But it would also be letting the genie of the old knowledge back out into the world. He had thought and prayed about it, but he felt he not could just sit by and watch people suffer and die. He grabbed the syringe and headed for the door.

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