I am baffled as to how any biologist, let along an anatomist, could possibly view the body in all its mess and think that an omnipotent, omniscient being was responsible for it. Surely any honest theologian who so much as opened a copy of Gray's Anatomy would pray that the blind groping of micro-mutation and the capricious battlefields of survival, reproductive fecundity and sexual selection were the cause, and not a deity deserving of worship.
Take just one example from the field of medicine: Cognitive fatigue. A debilitating symptom to have, and a symptom of what, exactly? Let's look at a short list:
- Tiredness. Well, yes.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A definitive symptom, in fact, of a syndrome we still can't explain but whose existence is beyond all doubt.
- Fibromyalgia, which is a symptom of CFS as well - sort of a case of who gets the credit, really.
- Any other post-viral syndrome, including polio.
- Diabetes. I have had myself checked twice for this.
- Haemachromatosis. I've had myself checked twice for this tricksy little genetic wrongness as well, and have found that I don't have it, but could give it to the children I'll never have, as a form of pre-emptive punishment for being teenagers and potentially choosing to listen to rap music instead of Fields of the Nephilim.
- Any common old viral infection, but with particular honour going to Ross River Fever and Glandular Fever for trying really hard.
- Chronic stress.
- Depression, which can be a symptom of anything else on this list or indeed anything else either, including many of the other Axis I disorders.
- Really bad levels of fitness. As self-abusive as I am about my current fitness, I'm not that bad.
- Various heart conditions. Fun little thought that one, no?
- Anything that can go wrong to the brain, including perhaps some of the above, and including aneurysms and diffuse axonal injury from concussion or viral infection (CFS and post-viral fatigue included, on the evidence of MRI studies).
- Deficiency of the B-group vitamins, which is just one reason you feel lousy after a hard night on the piss, and don't bother trying to put vitamins in beer - alcohol inhibits absorption of vitamins so it'll just give you expensive beer instead of the expensive piss most people end up with when they take vitamin supplements and their bodies flush anything not immediately needed, straight back out again.
- Liver failure, talking of beer.
Fatigue is a symptom of absolutely fucking anything, which is why it's so hard to pin down, and one reason it takes CFS so long to be diagnosed until the other symptoms start showing up, like chronic headaches and muscle pain and disrupted sleep which are all, oh yes, symptoms of just about everything as well.
God, if such a deity can be held responsible for this mess of soggy tissues we live in (and I use the word "responsible" in its most accusatory form possible) is not only incompetent, muddle-headed and a complete prick but displays a distinct lack of imagination at times as well.
I'm sick of it. With a medical rap-sheet that includes a highly unpleasantly depressing episode of post-viral fatigue on top of hay fever, eczema, gradually deteriorating short sight, a near certainty for arthritis and a family history that includes heart complaints, mental illness, cancer, glaucoma and kidney malfunction, I'm starting to get paranoid about every little symptom that now crops up, just in case I don't recover from that one either.
And now I'm struggling with concentration levels in a way that feels horribly like my post-viral episode and leaves me with what are probably also stress symptoms, like a constantly flushed face. Throw in that occasionally I'll have a day of unexpected activity and get sore muscles the next day that make me think of fibromyalgia, and it's hard to get up any motivation at all.
A lingering bloody-minded approach to barging straight through being sick helps there.
Bring on the medical scanners so beloved of science fiction, say I, although the way public health in Australia is going we'll be lucky to have hospitals that know where their first aid kits are.