“Are you really suggesting that we secretly add your ‘imagine’ compound to our municipal water supply? Setting aside the serious ethical dilemma of illegally adding unauthorized chemicals to our drinking water, there are many long term considerations.”
Dr. Harris leaned forward to further engage the conversation. “What are your concerns, Joe?”
“Have you tested your compound on a wide range of subjects? How long have you been conducting these studies? How serious are the side effects? Assuming it works as well as you believe, what good would it do to have our town ‘religion-free’ while the rest of the world continued to consume the ‘opiate of the masses’?” He paused a second to catch his breath before concluding: “That is just a few very pertinent questions off the top of my head about this proposed secular conspiracy of yours.
I’m not saying that it isn’t well intended; and I’m not saying that I’m not excited about the prospect of a greatly improved world; because I am. Your idea sounds very promising in an abstract way but it’s a massive undertaking, and extremely risky. I just never thought of myself as some sort of damned global revolutionary! How would we manage to effect this change on a global basis?”
Dr. Harris smiled at Dr. Richmond’s well-thought-out questions and mostly positive reaction to the unspoken proposal. They closely paralleled his own worries and concerns. The unifying synthesis of which made him feel like he had picked his potential partner very wisely.
“Let’s take each of your concerns one at a time, shall we? First: yes; I have tested the compound on a large cross-section of volunteer students for several months. I realize that a few dozen patients trying an experimental compound for 90 days is hardly acceptable procedure to win FDA approval but that’s not the aim here. There is no way to have tens of thousands in a blind test without the real purpose or results getting out. As of last night, I have a 100% success rate from 63 former theology students.”
“Are you saying that you gave the compound to 63 theology students and they are all disillusioned about organized religion now?”; Dr. Richmond asked doubtfully.
“Yes. As a matter of fact, most have already changed their career major at the university and joined Atheist or secular organizations. When confronted with scripture or other religious teachings, they actually become ill or nauseous! Obviously none of them joined my experimental neurobiology study to ‘lose their religion’. Many of their religious families have accused the school of brainwashing their children into becoming ‘godless heathens’. It’s only matter of time before one of them connects my clinical study to its actual purpose. The faster that you and I set up a network and infrastructure to spread ‘Imagine’ as far as possible, the sooner we can work on effecting global change.”
Dr. Richmond sat dumbfounded in the chair. It wasn’t even daylight yet and he was already immersed in a global conspiracy to eradicate organized religion! His head began to spin. Dr. Harris already had weeks to process the whole range of emotions. Joe was dealing with them all at once.
“How exactly do you think I could help in this… project? You know I’m not a neurobiologist. I don’t know anything about brain chemistry or complex compounds. I barely know a beaker from a flask.”
Dr. Harris assured him that all the chemical research and development was solely his department. He explained to Dr. Richmond that he possessed many complimentary skills that would be useful in furthering their mutual agenda. Joe asked for greater clarification of what his proposed role might be.
“Joe, you are well known for organizational skills and planning large projects with a minimal budget. I’ve seen some of your presentations and they were both amazing and professional. You possess a highly logical mind which would help us better plan and problem solve issues as they came up. I’ve heard that about you for years from the faculty but hadn’t witnessed it personally until I saw how quickly you recovered from the shock of revelations I just sprang on you.
Almost immediately you managed to process the startling information in a logical manner and then you were off, working out potential issues. The organization I am building needs people like you that can think on their feet and find solutions. Together we can single handedly make the world a better place. Please join me. We can do this! We can move mankind to the next phase of evolution!”
A thousand thoughts erupted in Joe’s mind as his new acquaintance gave him the sales pitch of the century. Fear of arrest and permanent imprisonment, fear of attacking the ‘sacred’ mountain of religion, fear of societal rebellion. No matter how lofty or noble the goal sounded, he was being asked to break international laws and commit acts that might get him branded a ‘terrorist’. It was a lot to process. Worse still, he suspected there was more to Harris’s picking him than just the bevy of flattering compliments he just received. He decided to press for more answers.
“While the things you said about me are basically true, the same could be said about a half dozen of our mutual colleagues. I get the feeling there is more to it than what you’ve stated so far. Clearly you talked to others since you said they all recommended me. Is there another reason you’ve asked me here this morning?”
Dr. Harris grinned. Dr. Richmond was very astute. Too astute. He decided to level with him. “All of the things I said about you are absolutely true and any one of them would make you an ideal partner. That being said; you are ALSO the International chairman for the Society of Scientific Advancement. In their fraternal ranks are thousands of scientists and doctors across the globe. With careful screening, you could personally reach out to like-minded individuals across the world and help initiate ‘Operation Imagine’ better than anyone else.”