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A time traveler, Roy, is marooned in the ancient era. Time and place are negotiable: ancient Greece, Roman Judea, ancient China, etc. There's no hope of getting back, but he's an intelligent fellow with a good background in basic science. Roy has made a good living for himself by setting up a distillery, but he decides to make a bigger impact. He starts a new religion, Royism, but with the intent that the rituals and tenents are of practical benefit to believers.

For example, the holy text contains the following: "Before readying water for drinking, your ROY commands that you bring it to a boil and recite the litany of belief." And the litany of belief just happens to take around three minutes to recite.

His goal was to encode as much modern, practical knowledge into his religion as possible so that humans could benefit from the knowledge even if they didn't necessarily understand it. Roy is familiar with the way religions can mutate over time, he knows a Royble (that's a Royist Bible) can't just have diagrams of spinning wheels or seed drills in it. He formulates it to be pretty concise and resistant to being corrupted in translation.

Now fast forward a thousand years. Royism has spread widely, in large part, thanks to the observable benefits, but human foibles are ever-present. Over the years misinterpretation, heresies, and schisms have multiplied. For example, ultimately there are religious wars fought over whether the ROY intends for the water to come to a rolling boil or a simmer. But just one example doesn't make for an interesting world, and besides elementary hygiene, I'm drawing a blank on what Roy might have included and therefore what was misinterpreted and misconstrued over time.

In short, besides hygiene practices, what basic ideas from the present that can be summed up in a paragraph of plain language would have been of concrete benefit in the past?

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    $\begingroup$ I'd say "love thy neighbor" and "bless your enemies," and "treat others as you want to be treated," but things didn't end too well for the last guy that suggested that... $\endgroup$ – stix Aug 7 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ This is either Story Based, what do you want them to learn, or Primarily Opinion Based, what one person and another think is "better" are rarely identical. $\endgroup$ – Ash Aug 7 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ Whilst I like the idea behind the question, it doesn't seem like a good fit for this site's Q&A format. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Aug 7 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ you can look at food laws in Judiasm (Kashrut) or Islam (Halal). A lot of them sound like very sensible food safety. And they have survived just fine over the centuries. I also remember some early chapters of Bible and/or these religions have rules on washing hands, handling death (body disposable, quarantine the family, etc.) $\endgroup$ – Bald Bear Aug 7 at 19:26
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    $\begingroup$ @stix It's in Leviticus 19: lists of things that make you unclean, like touching corpses, dead animals, etc, and gives instructions to take a heffer and burn it completely on cedar wood (which would release oils from both the fats and cedar) then to collect the ashes and soak them in clean water (releasing lye) and mix in hyssop (which has antibacterial properties). here are some more examples.Another interesting point in Lev 19 is that anyone that refuses to go through the cleansing ritual has to be cut off from everyone... $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Aug 7 at 20:19
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This is impossible to tell, because it all depends on the exact language of Roy's testament

All religious debates arise from the lack of specifics in religious texts. The underlying reasons for schisms and splinters can be very mundane, but formally they boil down to one or few statements in a holy text that can be interpreted differently. For example, if a text says that water needs to be boiled, the questions would be about how exactly it needs to be boiled and what should be noted as a boiling starting moment.

Thus, discussing topics of possible debates is like discussing possible loopholes in a legal contract without seeing the contract itself. We may theorize that some people would not like to boil water every time and would be looking for ways to circumvent this requirement, but we can't tell what specific points would be debated.

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  • $\begingroup$ good points. An example: the scripture says: "put water on fire, once bubbles appear, recite the prayer, and only then water is safe to drink". But people will make bubbles by stirring the water. So Roy would have to explain that its the heat that drives sickness out of water, and bubbles are merely proof of heat. $\endgroup$ – Bald Bear Aug 7 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ Respectfully, I disagree. There are a lot of doctrinal differences in Christianity that do not at all depend on exact language but rather different interpretations of core elements that underlie any specific text. E.g. Mormons don't ascribe to the concept of original sin. Anabaptists rejected infant baptism. I'm sure those believers marshall specific verses to defend their position, but I'm more interested in what the different positions are in broad terms. $\endgroup$ – Alex Aug 7 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex Wood so this is not about the ambiguous language but rather the lack of the language covering details. Like, "thou shalt boil water" - but what to do with other liquids? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Aug 7 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander Exactly. No matter what concept Roy put in the Royble, some group somewhere is going to screw it up. I can probably think of the screw-ups myself, but need a little help with the concepts to use. I did think of crop rotation for example. Obviously, there are two denominations now waring over whether to rotate the crops counterclockwise or clockwise. $\endgroup$ – Alex Aug 7 at 21:20

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