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The Big Picture

'Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.' -- Vizzini from "The Princess Bride"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Faith, Prayer and Humanity

CNN has an update on the story about the parents of a girl with diabetes who died because they decided to pray for her rather than send her to the doctor.

As always, PZ Myers has more on this tragic event.

I would point (maybe wag...) my finger at any believing Christian (I have Rhology, in particular, in mind) and ask them point blank whether they would take cold hard, fact-based, tested, secular, humanistic, agnostic science and medicine over the fantastical sky-fairy god of their very own religion when it comes to health and well-being of their children. If they say science and medicine, then I have to wonder just how much they really do believe in their magical sky daddy they call Jesus/God. If they say faith and prayer, then I have to wonder how much they really love their own children, since they could so easily be cured via human knowledge and ingenuity but are assigned certain death if faith and prayer is used.

Let us go back to the CNN article and look at a few statements of the Jesus-believing parents and friends. I really am curious as to just how out of the mainstream of Christian thought they really are:
Family and friends had urged Dale and Leilani Neumann to get help for their daughter, but the father considered the illness "a test of faith" and the mother never considered taking the girl to the doctor because she thought her daughter was under a "spiritual attack," the criminal complaint said.

Test of faith. Sounds reasonable enough from a Christian perspective. But we are presented with a tangible proof of just why it is not. A girl -- a young daughter -- needlessly died from an easily treatable and controllable disease simpy because the parents chose to trust God over trusting humans and human knowledge. Just look at what that faith in God got the girl; death. If this does not make you feel bad then I can only say that you are hollow and rotten inside. If you have faith in God them you have to side with the parents. That makes you a horrible person as well. If you trust in faith in God, but still would take your very own child to see a doctor, then you are admitting that faith in God is fantasy, and mere shadow in the light of reality. The whole "spiritual attack" is but icing on the cake. For if you are Christian, then you have to accept evil forces at work. And denying faith or prayer in lieu of human ingenuity and humanistic healing, then you have to deny the whole dark side of your belief. And in doing so, then you cannot accept Jesus, for his act was one of fighting an evil force, and not one of making an empty gesture in the face of only one being -- God (no devil).
According to court documents, Leilani Neumann said in a written statement to police that she never considered taking the girl, who was being home-schooled, to a doctor.
"We just thought it was a spiritual attack and we prayed for her. My husband Dale was crying and mentioned taking Kara to the doctor and I said, 'The Lord's going to heal her,' and we continued to pray," she wrote.

So how did all that praying work out? One dead little girl. Look at it this way: With medical help and friends and family praying, many children are healed and live. With praying alone, all children die. What is the random variable there? Medicine and science. Those things create healing. Prayer never does.

I wish the moral to this story was that faith and prayer are useless and superstitious wastes of effort and only through human knowledge and ingenuity can people live better lives. But you and I know that this will not be the real case. For all Christians will simply say that there was not enough faith or prayer present, or that it "was not God's plan" or some other fantastical baloney. They will never get it. They will never see that religion harms, it never helps. Especially in cases where simple human intervention and reality-based knowledge would help.

I do this, I write and I stomp my feet, because if I can get get even a few Christians to realize the absurdity of their beliefs (even if they are liberal Christians) and reject that, and accept real-world and truthful knowledge, then so many of our little tragedies (like this one) could be avoided. For accepting personal responsibility for ones own actions makes those actions much more personal, over attributing them to some magical sky fairy and absolving oneself of all personal responsibility. That is why atheistic morality is now and always will be far superior to any religious-based morality; because it is solely and uniquely based in the personally responsible category. No atheist can claim they did what they did because some sky daddy wrote it down in some musty old book.

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At April 30, 2008 11:00 AM, Blogger Shawn Francis Peters said...

The legal issues in this case, and the similar one that is transpiring in Oregon, are complex, to say the least. If you're interested, I'm writing about them on my "Religious Convictions" blog, and they're also covered in my book (from Oxford) WHEN PRAYER FAILS: FAITH HEALING, CHILDREN, AND THE LAW.


At May 12, 2008 7:59 AM, Blogger Rhology said...

The reasoning here is predicated on the idea that God promises physical healing in the Bible if you ask for it. He doesn't, so...

It's terrible what happened to this little girl. Her parents are guilty of poor Bible understanding. And you are guilty of begging the question - again - since you make moral statements and yet we have seen your worldview's repeated failure to provide a basis for such.

You're a fideist.


At May 12, 2008 8:44 PM, Blogger jeffperado said...


thanks for dropping by. I always appreciate your thoughts and input into any post I write. I mean no one on the inside is going to appreciate what some outsider like me has to say; it is a defense mechanism, pure and simple. But they will read what you say and hopefully realize just how ... your Christian apologetics are and turn around and reconsider what I write. That is a plus.

But let us get to the meat of what you say here.

First I have to say that I am shocked at how poor your reading of the bible really is. For it is the only thing you have to defend your religion and your personal beliefs.

Here are some bible quotes relevant:
"Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard." Isaiah 58:8 [NKJV]
"12 “For thus says the LORD: ‘ Your affliction is incurable, Your wound is severe. 13 There is no one to plead your cause, That you may be bound up; You have no healing medicines. 14 All your lovers have forgotten you; They do not seek you; For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy, With the chastisement of a cruel one, For the multitude of your iniquities, Because your sins have increased." Jer 30:12-14 [NKJV]
"[ Jesus Heals a Great Multitude ] And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people." Matt 4:23 [NJKV]

Now what about this healing power? Did it end with Jesus? No. Can it be acheived through prayer? Yes. See:
"So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere" Luke 9:6 [NKJV] So mere people could heal, if given the gift by Jesus and the Holy Ghost.
"8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues." 1 Cor 12:8-10
Paul again tells us it is us mere humans who can heal; "And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues." 1 Cor 12:28

I could go on, but I have made my point. Rhology is guilty of not reading his bible. (or at least, more honestly, reading it and rejecting the silly parts, because he knows they are, well, silly.)

And finally:

He calls me a fideist. Just what does that mean, and what does it have to do with me? It is defined as a "reliance on faith for knowledge." Oddly enough, I rely only on the real world. I cannot comment on things that I cannot know about. That is why I comment on God -- the gods of all religions, specifically the Christian God, and the false Jewish God (see this post: http://jeffperado.blogspot.com/2008/04/new-perspective-on-old-meme.html ). Because those gods are knowable and are known to be myth. But what about believing in some god (any god) because of faith?

The Bible has this to say:
"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified" 2 Cor 13:5 [NKJV]

Oh and there was this too:
"So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." Matt 17:20 [NKJV]

Of course Rhology will have you believe that that little word, "nothing," does not include healing a sick child.

And I of course forgot all about the "laying on of hands" as a cure for the sick:
"they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." Mark 16:18 [NKJV] I guess the "laying on of hands" requires no faith or prayer at all to cure the sick.

So again we have come full circle to the basic premise of what I originally wrote. Faith and Christianity will not cure a sick child. Only science and humans can do that.

At May 12, 2008 8:50 PM, Blogger jeffperado said...


Is it me, or is Rhology becoming a parody of himself or is he (and I've fallen for it) a parody of a parody?

How can one tell the difference? Is Rhology another Landover Baptist Church??


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