Thursday, March 27, 2008

Where's the Harm? Right Here.

An 11 year-old Wisconsin girl has died an excruciating death from untreated type I diabetes because her religious parents opted for prayer over medical treatment. Madeline Neumann's parents, Dale and Leilani, are some species of non-denominational Christian whackjobs who, not unlike Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Scientists, believe that medical intervention is not necessary and that prayer is the best medicine. They allowed their daughter to slip into a diabetic coma and die before "other relatives" called 911. This is glossed over in the AP report, but there's a video report on CNN's site from (the often insufferable) Nancy Grace that indicates that these relatives were from California and had been alerted to the trouble when the parents called them asking for additional prayers.

The mother is quoted in an Associated Press story as saying

"Our lives are in God's hands and whatever we go through we are just going to trust him."

In other words, to paraphrase Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, "if she dies, she dies."

There's some controversy as to how long the medical crisis had been going on. The AP story indicates that everything happened within the span of a few days, though Nancy Grace indicated that the situation had been going on for close to a month but that the girl had only recently become acutely symptomatic. Madeline, who had been withdrawn from public school in favor of homeschooling, had apparently not seen a doctor in 8 years.

As usual, officials are confusing the willful neglect of a child's well-being with a religious freedom issue, and thus have declined to remove the family's three other children from the home. Now keep in mind that I have no problem with the issue of adults declining medical care because of their religious beliefs - it's asinine, but it's also their choice. Children, however, are a whole different matter. As Richard Dawkins said, there's no such thing as a Catholic child, a Protestant child, or a Muslim children, just the children of Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims. Once that child reaches 18 they can do whatever they want, but until then their parents are responsible for them, and the entire purpose of the CPS system is to make sure that parents are executing that responsibility properly, rather than letting their child languish in a coma and die when they could be treated with simple insulin shots.

Another thing that grinds my gears is that the press (note especially the Nancy Grace segment) is attempting to paint these folks as regular whackjobs rather than whackjob Christians. The Nancy Grace segment even went so far as to display a quote from the mother about how the family doesn't consider itself religious, even as the AP story AND the Nancy Grace segment both contained quotes about how the family believes in the Bible and the laying on of hands. They may not belong to an organized church (despite the similarities to the Christian Science nutjobs), but they are clearly basing their delusions on Christian mythology. I guess it's just another case of "hands off" with religion, even when an innocent girl is dead.

Hopefully these psychos will get what's coming to them, but somehow I doubt it.

For an interesting discussion about religious freedom and the denial of medical treatment, I recommend the well-researched and even-handed "God vs. the Gavel - Religion and the Rule of Law" by Marci A. Hamilton.

Edit- An astute friend of mine found a link to a "testimonial" from Leilani Neumann on the cheerily named website AmericasLastDays.com where she details how God sends her visions and gave her magic X-Men powers in order to help her "save" her Catholic friend. Yeah, these folks weren't at all religious... The testimonial is here, if you dare to read it.

14 comments:

Garret said...

"Another thing that grinds my gears is that the press (note especially the Nancy Grace segment) is attempting to paint these folks as regular whackjobs rather than whackjob Christians."

I deeply resent that statement.

It is a shame that they neglected medical care, as we all should use the best of modern medicine to deal with medical issues, not JUST prayer. Jesus healed hands on, not JUST prayer.
Your statement above PROVES that Christians should be concerned for their rights, as you are unjustly equating the Christian faith with medical neglect. You WANT Christianity singled out in the report- you WANT it too look bad, unfortunately, reason and logic stand in your way. Christianity has no business being singled out at all- in fact, the parents are whackjobs period. The logical people of the world are able to know that most Christians would not stand by only praying, while neglecting medical care. So the LOGICAL reporters won out over the atheist whackjobs who want to equate any evil action with religious beliefs. Don't be a whackjob Skippy, it is unbecoming of a man of your intellect.

Skippy said...

Watch the Nancy Grace report man. They explicitly try and distance these whackos from Christianity. The fact of the matter is that these whackjobs are Christian whackjobs. They killed their daughter because of beliefs that they derived from Christian mythology. I'd bet you dimes to dollars that had it been some kind of fundie Muslim family that fact would have been trotted out everywhere. Christianity was downplayed in the CNN story precisely because of responses like yours.

Remember that family that killed their child a couple of years ago with the "water diet"? They were, I dunno, vegan whackjobs. They killed their daughter with their crazy pseudo-nutrionist beliefs. When parents kill their children specifically with their Christian beliefs, they are Christian whackjobs.

I would counter that you would prefer to see Christianity as a source of unbounded and unqualified good with no chance of ever being used to harm anyone. This matter illustrates that this just isn't the case.

Garret said...

"I would counter that you would prefer to see Christianity as a source of unbounded and unqualified good with no chance of ever being used to harm anyone."

Far from it Skippy! The name of Christ has been greatly damaged and drawn through the mud by evil acts of his "followers" through history. I put followers in quotes because for instance, where in the teachings of Jesus (or Paul, or Peter et al.) are we told to pick up swords and reconquer the Holy Land when it is lost to heathens? Nowhere- the crusades were launched by popes who put their word above the bible. In fact we are given the great commission to tell the world of the gospel, not physically conquer.

Where in the bible does it encourage prayer as the ONLY solution to disease?

The answer is not to blame Christianity, but rather to fight the specific ignorance of some who call themselves followers of Christ. There is no good reason to shun medicine- this was a horrifying example, and it happens every year.
By the way, a Christian Scientist, of the MB Eddy variety is typical of a psuedo-Christian cult- They say that the bible is the word of God, but you need the writings of Ms. Eddy to decode and unlock the key to its understanding. The bible is meant to be read and understood in a plain, straightforward sense- just read it and ponder its words.

"Watch the Nancy Grace report man. They explicitly try and distance these whackos from Christianity."

Then Nancy Grace did the right thing- they should logically be distanced from a proper understanding of Christianity- afterall, nowhere in the scriptures does it explicitly teach that you are to avoid medicine. Did you know that Luke was a physician?

"They killed their daughter because of beliefs that they derived from Christian mythology."

Christianity is Truth with a capital T. A good example of mythology- saying that the complex and varied life forms we have on this planet are a lucky accident of the right conditions, environmental pressures acting through natural selection given enough time and then- TAA DAA! We have ants, elephants, people, whales, wolves, viruses, mites, giraffes, manatees etc. Sheer lunacy- very counter intuitive. Nowhere in human logic do we ever look at the complex and highly organized and say- gee, its all luck, given enough time! How amazingly lucky!

Why isn't Skippy the Skeptic a skeptic of that mind bender?

Garret said...

"Edit- An astute friend of mine found a link to a "testimonial" from Leilani Neumann on the cheerily named website AmericasLastDays.com where she details how God sends her visions and gave her magic X-Men powers in order to help her "save" her Catholic friend. Yeah, these folks weren't at all religious... The testimonial is here, if you dare to read it."

Yes they are religious- what does that mean, Skippy? Am I going to let my son die of some disease Skippy, huh? I am religious- Christian in particular. I use medical science when I need to, adding prayer, not skipping medicine and only praying. That would be tantamount to testing God, to say, we COULD give medicine, but we will only pray and let God handle it.

Religion is not the root of all evil- people, the common thread between all religions of the world- we tend to be evil. The proof is the FACT that the bloodiest century, the 20th- had the most body counts through Atheist institutions.
Here is a much easier postion to argue, because it is a FACT-

ANTIRELIGION is the ultimate release of responsibility and consciousness in regards to accountability in killing. Other people don't like that you are killing? Who cares, they are weak, let them try and stop us, its not as though there is judgment from a higher power, or that karma is going catch up to me- those are all weak superstitions.
No accountability, no fear.

Skippy the out campaign will be a success. Just remember me when you hear that the Southern California section of Christians is rounded up and sent to camp- I will be praying for you and this nation. Make my death a quick one, none of that showers and screaming and gas. Please don't go the Stalin route either- he blocked off the roads, didn't let anyone in or out, and starved them to death.

JAK said...

garret:

Your implicit conflation of evolutionary theory with atheism suggests that you really don't know anything about evolution. That aside, your later comment:

Religion is not the root of all evil- people, the common thread between all religions of the world- we tend to be evil. The proof is the FACT that the bloodiest century, the 20th- had the most body counts through Atheist institutions.
Here is a much easier postion to argue, because it is a FACT-


is the sort of statement that I'm sure you can back up with a well-documented reference. Please do so. Of particular relevance would be the specific "atheist institutions" you are referring to. There really aren't that many, so they must be a bloodthirsty lot.

I look forward to your response.

Garret said...

Hi Jak
If an Athiest is not an evolutionist, than what is he/she? Us being here has to be explained. How much more do I need to understand- what is a viable atheistic alternative?

Stalin, Mao- the "states" official doctrine- atheistic- The Russians didn't believe in Darwins theory? The state didn't buy into a god concept either.

When Hitler was in power, what Religious faith drove Him?

Guiness book of World records, I believe, has the stats-
I will look into it.

JAK said...

Not all who accept the theory of evolution are atheists - for example, many Catholics.

Not all who are atheists accept the theory of evolution - for example Velikovskian catastrophists.

I would submit that regarding the Stalinist/Maoist regimes you mention that the proximate cause of their well-documented issues was not atheism, but rather the totalitarian nature of the regimes. (And in point of fact, Russian biology during the Stalinst regime was driven more by the theories of Trofim Lysenko, who's approach more closely echoed Lamarckism than Darwinsim.)

I'd also remind you that the issues plaguing the Middle East and Israel are predominantly religiously based issues.

You're cherry picking.

Garret said...

Jak
when you said "You're cherry picking." You are ignoring your own ripe plucked cherry- "the proximate cause of their well-documented issues was not atheism, but rather the totalitarian nature of the regimes."

Here is the error you and Hitchens make in this assertion.
A totalitarian regime can exist, has existed,and in fact does currently exist in theistic religious governments- Iran for instance. Totalitarianism is separate from theism/atheism as it can be common to both. Now we come to the question of the larger metaphysic behind the regime and its leadership- Is this for God (great evil has been done in the name of God indeed) or is there no God at all, and how does this ultimately play out? Well a sterile look at the situation shows the head count under the atheistic governments is tremendous on the world stage- this is embarrasing, so you cherry pick the totalitarian aspect and ignore the metaphysical aspect.

NOW HERE ME- I don't blame atheism or theism in this at all, to me, this fits like a glove in the Christian worldview. Man has a sin nature, and some are worse than others- left unchecked, and given enough power, a man is capable of murdering tens of millions EVEN IF he also professes belief in God, in fact, that person may use God as an excuse. I think sin nature of man is the true problem, and there is only one cure.

"Not all who accept the theory of evolution are atheists - for example, many Catholics.

Not all who are atheists accept the theory of evolution - for example Velikovskian catastrophists."

How does a VC explain the origen of life?

Skippy said...

Garret, man, I'm away from the computer for a couple of days and here you are packing your things for the march to Dachau. Aren't we being just a tad melodramatic?

Hitler was raised a Catholic, though he derived much of his anti-semitism from the fine tradition of it established by the Protestant hero Martin Luther. In his adult life he purged Christian philosophy of everything that he didn't find useful and presented this repackaged version to the German people with great success. He talked often in his speeches of a duty to God and to Providence, and of Jesus as a noble warrior figure battling against the foes of God's "chosen race". To quote -

"My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter."

It's true that there were some atheists in the Nazi party, and that the Nazis used Islamic mercenaries, but the message that Hitler gave to the German people, the message that turned so many Germans into bloodthirsty executioners in history's greatest slaughter, was one of "positive", militant Christianity. Hitler even went so far as to attack freethought and atheist groups in Germany, boasting that “We have . . . undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” Indeed, regardless of what Hitler himself may have believed or disbelieved, the vast majority of the Germans willing to die and murder for the Fatherland did so believing that it was God's will.

As for Stalin, it's right to speak of a "State Religion" in the USSR. Christians were persecuted, yes, but so were scientists, freethinkers, Jews, and Muslims. Stalin wasn't interested in persecuting Christians for any different reason than he was interested in persecuting scientists who worked under the maligned "western" paradigm- Anything that took people's minds away from the ideology and mythology of the state was to be done away with. As for the Soviets and Darwinism, have a look at my ape-man post. One of the USSR's greatest geneticists died in exile after being deported for supporting the "western science" of evolution rather than intellectually bankrupt Lysenkoism. Many Communist leaders were concerned that Darwinian evolution could be used to support a system of social classes to which they were (nominally) opposed.

Velikovksian Catastrophism specifically rules out Darwinian Evolution - it posits the existence of a cycle of enormous extinction events caused by various celestial happenings, many of them within memory of early humans. He most famously claimed that various OT miracles were caused by a freely moving Venus, among other things. I'm actually unclear as to whether or not he was an atheist. My sources paint him as a Zionist, but I suppose Hebrew Nationalism doesn't necessarily presuppose actual belief in the religion itself.

A more interesting set of atheist anti-evolutionists is the body of UFO true believers that think that life on Earth was created by extra-terrestrials. (Isn't that alluded to in Star Trek?) They're easy to find online. Heck, I accidentally wandered into one of their forums while researching my ape-man post. I'm curious as to why there aren't any of those guys at the Discovery Institute, since they technically believe in "Intelligent Design".

Anyway, back to the point at hand - Garret has yet to make any sort of attempt to counter my contention that, had these loons in Wisconsin never gotten wrapped up in Christianity (whether he prefers to call it false Christianity or not is immaterial for this purpose), their daughter would still be alive today. The fact still remains that they killed their daughter in the name Christianity. I'm well aware that these psychos aren't representative of the U.S. Christian mainstream, but I didn't call them "mainstream Christian whackjobs", I called the 'Christian whackjobs", and I stand beside that.

JAK said...

I picked the totalitarian aspect because it's the aspect that we can point to directly and analytically examine. Totalitarian regimes, whether secular or religion-based, function in the same way - to wit, they act to preserve themselves in the face of movements that might destabilize them. It matters not whether the movement at any given time is a different sect of Islam, an influx of Christian missionaries, a liberal strain of the local political ideology, or Greenpeace. We can look at that sort of behavior and quantify it. The moment you start talking about metaphysical considerations, you lose the ability to objectively quantify the situation.
(If you can quantify the metaphysical, it's no longer metaphysical - it's just physical.)

Now, you mentioned a "sterile look at the situation". Show it. Produce the head counts under the specific atheist regimes you're interested in. Then we can discuss the head counts through history of a few religiously motivated incidents and see how they compare.

Your attempt to push off problems in the world on the sinful nature of man is just comical. Is the nature of man responsible for hurricanes? Filoviruses? Malaria? How do you fit those things into your worldview?

By the way -

The theory of evolution does not attempt to explain the origin of life. That is more properly discussed within the realm of abiogenesis. This is day 1, Biology 101.

If you're going to rail about evolution, you need to actually learn what it means, instead of taking the Bob Jones definition of the term and running with it.

Garret said...

Skippy said....
"Garret, man, I'm away from the computer for a couple of days and here you are packing your things for the march to Dachau. Aren't we being just a tad melodramatic?"

LOL that gave me a good laugh- yes it was a tad bit.

"In his adult life he purged Christian philosophy of everything that he didn't find useful and presented this repackaged version to the German people with great success."

Yes there was a good portrayal of that on History channel just the other day- him standing there with the Dove descending and the beam of light shining down on him. He turned himself into a messiah figure. This is not Christianity, not by a long stretch.

"was one of "positive", militant Christianity."

This is false in that the readers of the new testament would not be able to extract this methodolgy without the appeal to Hitlers authority, similar to the appeal a pope would make- biblically, he would be seen as an anti-christ warned of in many epistles and the Gospels- antichrist is anyone who preaches a gospel contrary to the one the apostles passed on- for instance- all of 1 John.
Trying to say that Hitler was a Christian is an impossible position to argue, as he detested Christianity as weak in its apostolic form. When I am not feeling lazy, I will drum up those quotes of Hitlers that show that to be true.


"A more interesting set of atheist anti-evolutionists is the body of UFO true believers that think that life on Earth was created by extra-terrestrials. (Isn't that alluded to in Star Trek?) They're easy to find online. Heck, I accidentally wandered into one of their forums while researching my ape-man post. I'm curious as to why there aren't any of those guys at the Discovery Institute, since they technically believe in "Intelligent Design".

I used to be a fervent listener to "coast to coast AM" with George Noory and Art Bell- which would host those guys, and skeptics, anyone really, who wasn't conventional in their thinking. If aliens created us , were did the aliens come from- it merely shifts the location of the true start or origin of life to somewhere else. The catastrophists still need to explain that, not that I am asking for it. You should see the lizard alien conspiracy, fun stuff. One fool created a whole key to understanding hidden secrets in the bible by using an english translation and websters dictionary- a true scholar, huh? LOL.

"Anyway, back to the point at hand - Garret has yet to make any sort of attempt to counter my contention that, had these loons in Wisconsin never gotten wrapped up in Christianity (whether he prefers to call it false Christianity or not is immaterial for this purpose), their daughter would still be alive today. The fact still remains that they killed their daughter in the name Christianity. I'm well aware that these psychos aren't representative of the U.S. Christian mainstream, but I didn't call them "mainstream Christian whackjobs", I called the 'Christian whackjobs", and I stand beside that."

Now that you have filled in what you meant- I will grant you that. It does not speak of the teachings of Jesus or the apostles, (neither does Hitlers actions). Like I said in one of my first posts here, there is a lot of American Christian theology that has drifted away from the bibles true intent (it is not to be worshiped, rather, God is- RE: KJV only crowd). Evangelicals ( I am one) are adding their own non biblical traditions. But I think these folks that killed their child were in a "charasmatic" group, and their daughter paid the price.

Garret said...

Hi Jak
Okay, I agree with your first paragraphs for the most part- I thought you were blaming religion in general, but you have an apparently objective look at totalitarianism as far as I can tell.

"Your attempt to push off problems in the world on the sinful nature of man is just comical. Is the nature of man responsible for hurricanes? Filoviruses? Malaria? How do you fit those things into your worldview?"

I didn't push the "problems of the world" in this case, I was talking ONLY about the actions of man.
Now that you bring it up though- we went from paradise to the fall of man- and "all of creation groans and suffers" Romans 8:18-25. The whole section there speaks of how all of creation suffers, but awaits the renewal promissed with the new era to be ushered in by Christ. Theodicy- the problem of evil, that is a whole other post (book, really) all its own. That is not really my area, if I have an "area" at all. Personally, I am one of those who isn't terribly bothered by it because of the hope that I have in Christ and the coming kingdom. Not that I am NOT bothered- my little 4 year old cousin is racked with cancer, including spots in his lungs- he is Canadian, so I haven't been able to visit. This type of stuff is hard for anybody, no matter their beliefs.

"The theory of evolution does not attempt to explain the origin of life. That is more properly discussed within the realm of abiogenesis. This is day 1, Biology 101.

If you're going to rail about evolution, you need to actually learn what it means, instead of taking the Bob Jones definition of the term and running with it."

I don't know who Bob Jones is- is that a way of saying "man on the street?"
The biology books I studied at school had chapters on abiogenesis, it is part of the overall curriculum. There HAD TO BE abiogenesis as a start to life in the naturalistic worldview, right? Abiogenisis is discussed somewhere about day 15-30 in biology 101, by the way- California curriculum.
Evolution is a vague term to throw around- there are the obvious aspects of evolution based on observation that all people should accept- but those are stretched into implications that are more akin to fantasy than proven fact. There is nothing anti biblical about the tremendous variety in phenotypes arising through small changes- in this biosphere it would be necessary to allow for that.
Old Earth can be rectified too- the meaning of "yom" is translated as "day" in Genesis chapter one, and "day" over 1000 times in the Hebrew bible- but over 80 times it is translated as "time" or "age"- more akin to the world we have discovered as we have dug into the geologic column is to translate "yom" as "age".

Garret said...

Jak-
Thanks, went and looked up Bob Jones, I had honestly forgotten who he is. I tend to not follow the "old School" american evangelsits- with the exception of good ol' J. Vernon Mcgee. I follow Greg Koukl and JP Moreland, G Habermas, R. Zacharias, Lee Strobel- that crowd.

Garret said...

clarification I said...
"There is nothing anti biblical about the tremendous variety in phenotypes arising through small changes"

I want it to read
There is nothing anti biblical about the tremendous variety WITHIN phenotypes arising through small changes (for instance, variety in dogs). It gets anti-biblical when we say those small changes became new phenotypes altogether(a dog no longer is a dog- it is a new creature).

Check out this link for death tolls Twentieth Century
http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat1.htm
sigh...enjoy