Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two competing stories

For your consideration:  first we turn our attention to South Carolina, where a baby is born with a partially-functioning liver and heart:

"We brought him to the alter and my pastors prayed for him. They anointed him on his stomach and on his heart," said Healon.
That same week they took Ethan to the doctor.
"The doctors took him back for an MRI and the doctors came back completely astonished because they could not believe the liver was completely healed and the heart was completely healed," said Healon.
That was when the baby was eight months old.  Now at 23 months, the boy is still doing well, but also still undergoing surgeries.  A victory for prayer?
Next we look to Oregon, where a grand jury is indicting a couple for withholding medical treatment for their seven-month old daughter, who is now facing preventable blindness in at least one eye.  But that is the way of their church:
The Followers of Christ church cemetery is filled with dead children who died from treatable medical conditions. The Oregon state medical examiner's office reported that during the past 30 years more than 20 children of church members had died of preventable or curable illnesses.
 The track record of this church in this matter makes one wonder when the members will question their faith:
Last February Jeffrey and Marci Beagley were found guilty for the criminally negligent homicide of their 16-year-old son, Neil. Instead of seeking medical attention for an easily treatable condition, the Beagley's chose prayer, with tragic and fatal consequence for their son.

Four months prior to Neil's death, his young cousin also died at home because her parents, Carl and Raylene Worthington, following the teachings of the church, refused to get her medical attention.
 Note, however, that the parents of the first story allowed medical procedures, including surgery.  The prayer was a side-issue, and perhaps it served the purpose of providing psychological encouragement.  But the parents of the second story demonstrate how difficult it is to keep religion in its proper place.


  1. Experiments have consistently demonstrated that prayer doesn't work and that sick people who have many people praying for them often do worse than those who have no one praying for them.

    An aunt of mine got seriously ill in the Philippines recently. Because her daughter is a PhD with a good job, she could afford the best medical treatment for her mom. Fortunately, my aunt recovered due to the "miracle" of medical science. But of course, my relatives (all of whom are religious) started sending "Praise God" and "God is good!" emails, attributing my aunt's recovery to prayer. Of course, this was complete nonsense, as the proximate cause of her recovery was excellent medical care.

    I was so tempted to reply with an email stating, "Thank goodness for modern medicine and science" but refrained from doing so. I just let my relatives believe that the Sky Fairy heard all their mumblings and saved my aunt as a result. My relatives are like children who believe in Santa Claus. It is sad when adults believe in fairy tales.

    Ironically, most of my relatives do not believe in evolution by natural selection, yet they go to medical doctors when they get sick. Much of modern medicine is based on evolutionary biology. If my relatives were consistent with their beliefs, they would go to faith healers when they became ill.

    The problem with religious people is that they have no clue about the concept of causation. They attribute everything positive to God. And when their prayers aren't answered or when something tragic happens, they rationalize this by the statement, "God works in strange ways." What a cop-out!

  2. When my daughter, Ramona, was very sick recently, her father and step-mother stood over her several times and prayed aloud for her recovery. Ramona, being an atheist, didn't appreciate it, but couldn't do anything about it because of the breathing tube down her throat. I talked with her about it later, and we agreed that, since it made THEM feel better, it was all right. But had a modern emergency room and intensive care unit not been available, she might very well have died, prayer, or no prayer. I am grateful that we live when we do and where we do. But my gratitude is not a belief that 'god' spared her, but simply an overall feeling of humility and relief. There may not be an all powerful god, but that doesn't mean I control everying, either. Most of what happens in my life is entirely out of my control, and I must accept that. Some people need to lean on an idea that they are 'leaving it in god's hands' in order to let go of what they can't control anyway. I don't have a problem with that, as long as as they do everything that IS in their power to help, and that includes seeking proper medical care! Thankfully, my ex-husband and his wife, however religious, were happy to let the doctors assist 'god' in his work!