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Saturday, 12 August 2017

A Genetic Defect...

A typical evening social. It could be a group of Christian men sitting at an extended table at an Indian restaurant. This particular group being of the Ascot Life Men's Curry Club, which is part of our church social agenda. Or I could be one of a smaller group of secular friends enjoying a drink at a pub. Or it could be a group of lifeguards sitting around a bar table over a drink, following a pool training session on how to save a swimmer in trouble, together with resuscitation techniques. Never mind that a time gap of more than forty years separate the Reading Life Saving Club (no longer in existence) from the Ascot Life Men's Curry Club. The circumstance has always been the same. While all the others are engaged in conversation, I sit quietly by, taking it all in - unless the subject under discussion is one I'm particular interested in. 



The subject in discussion could be about football (soccer, England's national sport) along with type of car ownership, political issues, computer technology, project details or problems at work (office), money matters, or just general chit-chat - for example, some odd or amusing incidents which had added some colour to the otherwise mundane daily grind. Most of these had never aroused much interest. This could be because I know too little about the topic to make a worthy contribution into the conversation. Yet if there were just two of us - just one other person with me sitting at the bar table - then even for me, the most boring subject - football, car ownership, insurance, or intricate computer technology - these could still stir a healthy and lengthy conversation between the two of us. But never so well in a group.

Unless it's a topic that would stir my spirit. Such as Jesus Christ and the Bible, religion in general, travel, individual sports such as running and cycling, together with the triathlon, along with anything which can ignite a conversational spark whilst in company. So in a social group, Christian or secular, I tend to be the quiet one. Something I had noticed for decades and could not understand why. Neither could I cope with any notion of recording my voice on tape, like I did when I was a youth. This was because my accent is, and always have been, unusual. It has nothing to do with Italian origin as some had suggested. Listening to any Italian speak, sure enough, he may gesticulate wildly as a typical stereotype, but his tone of voice will not be unlike any other "normal" masculine accent. Then I wonder whether my social impediment and accent could have been linked with a prolonged bachelorhood. After all, I did not marry until I was 47 years old.

But having this accent has put me at a disadvantage. That is, what ever I say seems to have not been taken seriously by others. I even wonder whether, even in the subconscious, there may be a connection between disregard of both my vocal and written contribution and remaining quiet during a social. I eventually became aware there was something wrong when after our daughters were born, the health visitor made a reference about us to social services. To cut a long story short, our beloved girls were eventually taken for adoption. It was a shock which shook the very foundations of the Earth. And it was during the parental assessments prior to the adoption when a long session with a psychologist that a diagnosis was made. I discovered that I was on the mild end of the Autism Spectrum, with Asperger's Syndrome, or A.S.

Although I have already heard of A.S, I never suspected that I had it. Yet I could see straight away that this is the answer why I am who I am. But it could have been much worse. The other end of the spectrum, which is in the realm of severe autism, this often goes hand-in-hand with mental retardation, or slow-learning. If I had been there, then I wouldn't have been allowed out of the house (or institution) without constant supervision - let alone backpacking the world on my own! Instead, the psychologist also revealed a positive side of the assessment - that my intelligence quotient was high average - a trait common among men with Asperger's Syndrome.

This brings to mind a Christian friend of mine (not in my church). The psychologist, most likely the same person who assessed me, has revealed to him that he too has Asperger's Syndrome. A few years younger than me, his voice tone is rather high pitched and authoritative, which tend to stand out in a group conversation. And he remains single to this day, which might have been the reason for consulting a psychologist in the first place. But when it comes to intelligence, this man is way above me. Not only had he graduated at university with a maths degree and also being fluent in French, but his learning abilities has qualified him for Mensa membership. It is this high intelligent quotient and dual language that has enabled him to fit in a group social better than I could, because of his rich knowledge and impressive talk. His liking of sport tends to be towards badminton and squash rackets, the latter he regularly competed with me during the 1980's, around thirty years ago. But when it came to overseas trips, unlike me, he preferred the comfort and security of group travel, usually with the Christian holiday company Oak Hall.

But what I find rather remarkable is that although he is a Christian, he favours Evolution over Divine Creation. Of all his cleverness, I find this to be an anomaly. What is the actual cause of A.S. even experts cannot be certain. But it's most likely a genetic defect, either handed down at conception or maybe occurring during gestation (Mum lived in London whilst carrying me throughout 1952 - a city known for its thick smog before the Air Pollution Act of 1955 and the Clean Air Act of 1963 were passed). As a young boy, I recall the outside of nearby Victoria Station literally black with soot before 1963, when a massive clean-up programme got underway. If either the London smog played a role in the development of A.S. whilst in the womb, or whether it's a genetic defect handed down from either side of the family, then this must be more to having been a victim of Natural Selection rather than a beneficiary. In other words, the law of entropy at work with the downward trend from high-ordered complexity of initial Creation, to a state of disorder and degeneration of the genome. This seems to fly in the face of Darwinism rather than support it. Yet despite such obvious evidence, my Christian friend still believes in the gradual upward trend of biological and genetic evolution.



Which brings to mind the Holy Scriptures. The psychologist has noted that people with A.S. has a greater tendency to lean towards spiritual matters, and likely to be more accepting of religion. And here is where I believe the Bible has played a major role in development of intelligence. When I wore the school tie during the sixties, not only did I suffer from A.S. - even if this was still unrecognised back then - but I was further down the spectrum. That is to say I was a slow learner, although not to the level of retardation, since I was still allowed to be out and about without supervision. During Spring of 1968, I left school without any qualifications, a status which "condemned" me to a life of unskilled manual labour.

It was less than five years after throwing out the school tie that something occurred towards the end of 1972. Some time afterwards, I voluntarily enrolled for evening classes at a local college. The first subject I took on was General Certificate of Education: Ordinary Level, or G.C.E. "O" Level English Language. I passed the exam which I should have left school with. Later I decided to give Geography a try. Again I walked away with another G.C.E. certificate under my arm. If only I kept up the motivation. I could have walked out of college with a biology certificate, and maybe a history or physics certificate as well, which either along with the other two, could have qualified me for a clerical occupation - a massive step in vocational progress. However, in both these cases I had already flown the nest to set up home in a bachelor's apartment, therefore there was nobody else at home with me to urge me on. Yet I still passed both exams. But I didn't believe that mere maturing of the mind as I grew older was the only groundwork, although this most likely have played a part as well. Instead, over the years I became convinced that in addition there was another factor which played an important role.

Constant reading of the Bible since conversion to Jesus Christ in December 1972 has without a doubt played a major role in the heightening of intelligence quotient. Perhaps I could be wrong in this, but according to years of observation, there seems to be a definite connection between Bible reading and higher I.Q. This applies to others as well as to myself. And this also applies to atheists alongside believers. For example, famous atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins knows his Bible well. By his own admission, he sat through Christian assemblies during his school days when he attended Oundle Public School in Northamptonshire, known for its affiliation with the Anglican Church. There he embraced Christianity until about age sixteen, when after reading Bertrand Russell's book Why I'm Not A Christian, he began to believe that the works of Charles Darwin to be far more to his liking than Holy Scripture. Although without a doubt, Dawkins was most likely to have been born with a high average I.Q. - I wouldn't put it past him that Bible knowledge gained throughout his school days had enhanced his quotient.

Christopher Hitchens is another example of an Independent School student. From thirteen years of age he attended the Methodist-affiliated Leys Boarding School in Cambridge, where Christianity was the central core of all education. Along with attending services held at the school chapel several times a week including Sundays, Hitchens must have accumulated much knowledge of Holy Scripture before attending Balliol College in Oxford. Unfortunately the raising of his I.Q. by studying the Bible resulted in setting against Holy Scripture from which later this author wrote books such as God Is Not Great, and The Portable Atheist, along with his other writings, including his critique over the British fetish with the Royal Family. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, along with Sam Harris, and not to forget Bertrand Russell, all with brilliant intellects. All these academics have demonstrated a high familiarity with Holy Scripture and thorough knowledge of the Bible, as revealed in their books.



Among Christians, the vast majority of British Christian males of my age range and younger, according to my own observation across a time span of over forty years, have attended grammar school, followed by university graduation and then successfully holding down a profession. A large percentage of Christian men who held degrees were raised in Christian homes, although this does not rule out a minority of graduates with non-believing parents who made it into university and were converted there. But in general, I have found that children growing up in Christian homes and are fully familiar with the Bible are more likely to attend grammar schools followed by university graduation. This seems to be endorsed by the presence of the Christian Union, a student-run group found in all colleges and looks be be popular and well-attended. In turn, I have known men who were converted to Christ later in life but still retained their manual jobs. Two builders I once knew were in this group, along with myself who was converted at twenty years of age yet had never graduated. But apart from these, working-class men are very far and few-between within a typical English church.

If I'm right about what I have seen over the years, then although a vast majority of present-day undergraduates are unbelievers, far more Christians, along with those familiar with the Bible are likely to graduate than those who don't. And Christians who never made it into university are those more likely having met their Lord later in life. What I have observed over the years looks to have backed up my own assessment that reading the Bible and becoming familiar with it has the potential of raising the reader's Intelligence Quotient.

Nevertheless, I was never set free from Asperger's Syndrome. It's still there. But not only being familiar with Holy Scripture has raised my I.Q. but has provided spiritual strength for us as a couple to pass through the fires of Hell when our daughters were taken away from us, yet Hell was unable to break us. Our marriage remains strong and robust. Each day I want to love my wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for it. A sacrificial love for my wife emanating the love Christ has for his people. Today I attended a friend's wedding (yes, both bride and groom were Christian graduates - an inspiration for this blog). During the public prayer section of the ceremony, I exhorted them to read their Bibles every day. Read their Bibles every day and feast on the goodness of God's holy Word, and Hell will always remain powerless to break them or destroy their marriage. 

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