Wash your hands! The 19th century physician Ignaz Semmelweis gets credit for discovering the hygienic value of hand-washing, yet injunctions to ‘wash your hands’ appear thousands of years earlier in the Bible (Exodus 30:17-21). This talk explores the rise of non-animistic, monotheistic religious faiths (e.g., Judaism, Christianity, Islam) as cultural adaptations to infectious disease, which sharply increased since the Agricultural Revolution and the emergence of cities. Potential adaptations include hand-washing, bathing, quarantine, burial practices, food codes, food inspection, bodily fluids, sexual codes, and more. A hypothesis for the emergence of monotheism is proposed.
Hall: Capitol Ballroom North