“If Soap Exists…”
By Pastor Ron Buxton
It amazes me that something so common has quite a weird history. According to my research, soap was independently invented in three different locations in the world. There wasn’t any sharing of oral or written communication from these isolated areas of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Europe going back 5000 years ago. And what’s even weirder is how they all independently discovered soap: from animal sacrifices. I’ll bet you never would’ve guessed that trivia!
Anyways, the compound that became soap was actually the byproduct of pagan animal sacrifices. And early archaeological evidence confirms this strange origin. I’ll just share one vivid example from the pagans of Gaul (primitive Romans) who sacrificed animals near the Tiber River. You see, animal fat flowed into that river after first mixing with the wood ashes from the sacrifices. This caused a frothy, bubbly solution upon the water’s surface. And the women, who previously just rinsed their clothing in the river, noticed how the suds of that byproduct made their clothes look even cleaner. Voilá! Primitive lye soap was invented for laundry.
Later, the infamous bath houses of Pompeii in the first century A.D. began using soap as a body wash. Nevertheless, body washing was unheard of until about 1200 years later–in the 17th century–yet only among the very wealthy. Get this. It would be another 200 years (until after WWI!) that commercial bar soap came into existence! Again, another surprising trivia fact.
Why do I share this? Well, the strongest argument against God’s existence by atheists is the presence of evil. The argument goes like this: If there’s a God, and He’s supposedly good, then why’s there so much evil in the world? That seems like a compelling criticism. However, that brings me back to the history of soap. The question could be asked: With so much soap in the world, why are there so many dirty people? I mean, don’t they know that they could easily use some soap and water to clean themselves? Believe me. I’ve been to a few third-world countries where “cleanliness is NOT next to godliness” (if you know what I mean)!
Folks, the analogy is very simple. People are dirty because they either refuse to use soap, or they don’t have access to it. The exact same thing could be said in most cases where God’s supposed absence equates to the presence of evil in the world.
I’ve said it before. God’s not a celestial stalker. He will not force anybody to avail themselves of His “cleansing” and redemptive, internal transformation. And so, while we wouldn’t blame a bar of soap for dirty people, neither should we blame God for all the ugliness in this fallen world.
It’s an ironic comparison. From the false worship of pagan idolatry, soap was invented. And, yet, more importantly from Christ’s true sacrifice, mankind can now be eternally cleansed! Folks, the blood of Christ is the only soul-cleansing detergent available to mankind. You’ve really no more excuses to not be clean!