Prayer is not a substitute for ability

17 05 2009

Some time back, I wrote an extended rant about a girl who was allowed to die of diabetes. Her parents believed that she was under some sort of “spiritual attack”, and therefore decided to cure her with prayer. I asked then why we allow such pernicious superstition to exist, especially given the general antipathy of religious fundamentalists toward the science and technology which makes our civilization possible. I’m still waiting for an answer.

The parents are now on trial for the murder of their daughter, which gives me a few shreds of hope for rational thought in this country.

American citizens are awash in a sea of information, all readily available through a variety of channels. Internet, television, radio, free public libraries, newspapers, and even word-of-mouth can (and do) convey enormous amounts of data on demand. With so much knowledge readily available, there is no excuse for allowing a child to die from an easily-preventable illness. Worse still, when told specifically that treatment is available for their daughter’s illness, the parents instead chose prayer. This sort of willful disregard of reality can have lethal consequences. In this case, a thirteen year old girl died from it.

If an adult chooses to believe that prayer is the only acceptable answer to illness, that’s his or her choice (so long as the illness would not endanger others). Children are a different story. We- as a society- have deemed children to be incapable of making informed decisions on such matters. We permit the parents great latitude in making choices on their children’s behalf, under the assumption that the parents will make such decisions with the child’s best interests in mind. Somebody please tell me how it could be in Madeline Neumann’s best interest to die at age thirteen?

Such willful stupdity in the face of objective reality is dangerous to everyone. What if one of these god-deluded ass-hats contracted TB? Would they go about their regular daily lives, exposing averyone with whom they come in contact in the smug belief that their imaginary friend will make it all better?

I believe in live and let live. You can believe in whatever you want, so long as your beliefs do not affect those around you. You can believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn, God, Allah, Kali, Amaterasu, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Odin, Hercules, Perkunas, Quetzalcoatl, or the Giant Space Goat to your heart’s content … as long as you don’t try to make me believe the same thing. Believe what you want- even if you want to believe I am a heathen- so long as you grant everyone else the same privilege and do no harm.

That do no harm bit is most important. To the religious fundamentalist, what happens here on Earth is secondary to what happens after death. Any atrocity committed here can be forgiven if it was inspired by their imaginary friend. The Neumanns allowed their child to die because they believed their Angry Invisible Skyman and his Zombie Offspring would take care of her illness. Far too many religious apologists have said, “Madeline is in a better place, now.” Really? This stupid platitude is part of the wider problem- essentially buying into the delusions of the fundamentalists by rationalizing their murderous beliefs. She’s in a “better place”? I’m reasonably certain it would be better for Madeline Neumann if she were still alive.

history of religionFar too many atrocities and tragedies are allowed to occur as a result of pandering to the deluded religionists among us. Too many children are allowed to die from treatable illnesses because their parents buy into the idea that prayer can cure all ills.

Prayer is not an acceptable substitute for ability … or reality.

Current status: Peeved

Current music: Cygnus X1, Book II by Rush



4 responses

18 05 2009

As brought up on other blogs….who determines this?
If you belived that chemo was the best treatment and the ‘state’ said ‘no that is bad you must pray for your child.’ Would that be OK??? All choices have their bad side. In this case the state is making the decision, but if the kid EVER does something wrong, who has the responsibility for him??? The parent!!! So the state takes the responsibilty when it likes and refuses the responsibility later. Religion is a stupid reason to reject the best available help, but they have the responcibility and they can keep it, they have been killing their kids for generations and will continue to as they are allowed. They don’t want us killing cell bundles and we would prefer to help the kids.

It is not a good situation but they can have the kid and make the choises. I don’t want their stupidity interfering with me & mine and they don’t want my interference. I would rather have this then the great god “STATE” doing it.

18 05 2009

Your reverse example is wide of the mark. These so-called “parents”, in the face of repeated appeals from family members (among others), refused to take Madeline to a doctor to get treatment for her diabetes. With treatment, Madeline would not have died from diabetes at age thirteen. Her genetic-material donors elected to to pray for her instead of getting basic, proven, life-saving treatment. How is this in any way similar to your example?

If the choice was a chemotherapy regimen which would probably not save the child’s life but only prolong it for a short period of sustained awfulness (I have no illusions about what chemo does to the human body), the parents could (and should, in my opinion) be granted some leeway. This was not the case here. The Neumanns allowed their child to die when proven, effective treatment was available and relatively simple.

Parents do not ever have the right to kill their children because of the parents’ religious beliefs.

19 05 2009

Sorry ‘archvillain’ …. got her mixed up with the boy with cancer.
And this error does show we are on the same point.
After watching my mom die a horrid death with chemo I would never FORCE anyone to do it and as you said it is not a PROVEN solution in many cases.
The diabetes thing is slightly different. And here science and ethics is the leader here not just the STATE. Science demonstrates that diabetes is FULLY treatable for a LONG time cure or treatment, and the ethics of saving a child who does not normally have the intellect to make a proper decision added together should be the push of the state to override the parents.
I do not want to see the state make decisions based on their likes and or dislikes. Individual rights are the most important items as they errode the ones you agree with then they work on others and soon they are all. Remember there ar many who would love to have the state remove a womans right to choose and it all depends on lines drawn.

31 05 2009
Carnival of the Godless 118 « Right To Think

[…] poor girl who didn’t survive was Madelaine Neumann. Archvillain discusses the Madelaine Neumann case and the intolerance of religion, whilst (((Billy))) sees how the evidence of “lifeless things” works against […]

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