Three Wise Fools
- 2007 24 May
There were once three men who considered that they were very wise. They lived in a country that had only just been introduced to electricity.
One dark night, the men were invited by Edison Electric to see a demonstration of electrical power, because it was well-known that the three of them were skeptics when it came to electricity being a reality. The reason they denied its existence was because they didn't believe in anything that could not be seen. These men were rationalists, and electricity was said to be invisible1. They refused to believe in something that couldn't be scientifically demonstrated.
When they entered the dimly lit demonstration room, they were cordially met by a representative from Edison Electric. As they looked around, they saw that a large lamp sat on a table in the middle of the room. Also on the table were a candle and a leather-bound book called The Owner's Manual. It was published by the electric company.
The representative welcomed them and excitedly explained that the lamp had the power to light up an entire large room, with the simple flick of a switch.
He said, "Gentleman, electricity is a modern marvel. To see it demonstrated, simply flick the switch on the lamp. You will be amazed. It will light up the entire room. The manual on the table is to give further instruction to you, if you decide to purchase the lamp." He then left the room to speak with other interested clients.
All the men needed to do to see the miracle of electricity, was to flick the switch on the lamp.
Instead, they sat down at the table, and one of them opened The Owner's Manual and began to cynically look at its pages. It began with a short biographical sketch of the famous inventor, Thomas Edison.
The chapters were made up as follows:
A diagram of the position of the switch on the lamp
- Background information on how electricity was discovered
- Hydroelectric power, pictures of huge dams, and how they produce electricity
- Diagrams of copper wiring and magnets, explaining how they are able to turn raw energy from moving water into invisible electricity
- How electrical wiring carries the generated power to our homes
- Electrical sockets, power cords, and other accessories.
As the man continued to flick through its pages, it was as though the lamp that sat on the table in front of them didn't exist. Then they began to talk. The conversation went like this:
"I don't believe that there is any such thing as 'electricity.' I've never seen it. It's supposed to be invisible and yet produce light. How ridiculous! Where's the evidence? If I can't see it, it doesn't exist."
"I totally agree," said the man holding the book. "It says here on page 17 that Edison was considered to be a genius. I don't think so. I've studied his life and he had so many failures, it was ridiculous. He didn't even 'invent' the light bulb. He only invented the first commercially practical incandescent light.
"Who published this book anyway? I doubt if they know anything about Thomas Edison. I notice here that it says that his wife's name was 'Mary Stilwell.' That's just not true. I'm and educated man. I did a thesis on the man's life once, and I know that his wife's name was definitely 'Mina.'"2
"Interesting... I read somewhere that he used this so-called 'electricity' to kill animals3. Is that true?"
The man holding the book said, "It's true. There has been a great deal of evil done in the name of this so-called 'electricity.' That's why I don't want to have anything to do with it.
"The mess-up with his wife's name isn't the only mistake in this publication. It says here that Edison believed in God's existence. That's absurd! I have read many times that he was an atheist4. This manual is a mess. It's filled with contradictions.
"And they expect us to believe in this invisible force called 'electricity...' That has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard! I don't know about you, but I'm getting out of here."
His two friends heartily agreed. Electricity didn't exist. It seemed to make sense to them that the reason it didn't exist was because they believed that The Owner's Manual was filled with mistakes.
The three men stepped out of the room into the darkness, still wise in their own eyes. They even decided to form a club that was devoted to telling other people that electricity didn't exist.
From, The Atheist Delusion (Bridge Logos Publishers), Ray Comfort (due to be published, July, 2007). Used with permission.
1"What is electricity? It is a form of energy, evident from the fact that it runs machinery and can be transformed into other types of energy such as light and heat. It is invisible. During an electrical storm, we do not see electricity. We observe the air being ionized when the electricity travels through it." www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca/
2On December 25, 1871, Edison married 16-year-old Mary Stilwell, whom he had met two months earlier. They had three children. Mary Edison died on August 9, 1884. On February 24, 1886, at the age of thirty-nine, Edison married 19-year-old Mina Miller in Akron, Ohio. They also had three children.
3One of the more notable occasions when Edison electrocuted animals was when in 1903, his workers electrocuted an elephant at Luna Park, near Coney Island, after she had killed several men and her owners wanted her put to death. His company filmed the electrocution. Thomas Edison thus introduced the practice of execution by electrocution. http://encyclopedia.calendarhome.com/
4Thomas Edison was a freethinker, claiming he did not believe in "the God of the theologians," but did not doubt that "there is a Supreme Intelligence." He is quoted, "I believe that the science of chemistry alone almost proves the existence of an intelligent creator." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Edison
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