Daily Devotional – December 18
A man, a plan, a canal, Panama! A century ago, the world marveled at the engineering of the Panama Canal, but it would not have been built if not for a devout Christian military doctor named William Gorgas. The French had started to build the 50-mile-long Panama Canal through the ridges and mountains that separated the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, but many of the workers died of yellow fever, and the French abandoned the project. The leading scientists of the day believed the disease was spread by air from surrounding marshes and filthy slums. The reality was much different; yellow fever came from the bite of a mosquito Aedes aegypti - the same mosquito that now carries the Zika virus.
Against the conventional scientific wisdom of their day, William Gorgas and Walter Reed did careful experimentation to find the mode of disease transmission. They even had volunteers sleep in the noxious excretions of yellow fever victims for a week; no one died. Then they studied the habits of the mosquito A. aegypti. It never traveled more than 200 yards from its birth place AND laid eggs only in fresh water. Armed with this knowledge, Gorgas was assigned to the Panama Canal project. He immediately ran into roadblocks as the majority of doctors refused to believe or accept his conclusions. It took President Roosevelt’s private doctor encouraging the President to enforce Gorgas’ methods. So began the largest public health project in the history of the world up to that time. A massive effort was begun to kill the mosquitoes by fumigating houses and putting screens on windows, lids on cisterns, and even floating oil on standing water. The war succeeded! Once the mosquito that carried yellow fever was killed off, the focus shifted to engineering the Panama Canal.
Gorgas was a Christian who understood that the truth is often opposed. Gorgas knew he was fighting “settled science.” Today, we have greatly benefited from Gorgas’ determination to do true science, but we are still fighting a battle for truth as only evolutionary thought is allowed throughout our public school systems. We, too, need to fight “settled science” and keep the truth in front of people.
A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
~ Proverbs 16:9
Source: "Pearls in Paradise" by authors Bruce Malone and Jule Von Vett