Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tell me this isn't grave negligence

Another child dies because of religion, because of belief in the supernatural, because of faith in the supposed incredible/unlimited power of prayer.
An 11-year-old girl died after her parents prayed for healing rather than seek medical help for a treatable form of diabetes, police said Tuesday. Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said Madeline Neumann died Sunday. "She got sicker and sicker until she was dead," he said. Vergin said an autopsy determined the girl died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body, and she had probably been ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness. The girl's parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, attributed the death to "apparently they didn't have enough faith," the police chief said. They believed the key to healing "was it was better to keep praying. Call more people to help pray," he said. The mother believes the girl could still be resurrected, the police chief said.... The family does not attend an organized church or participate in an organized religion, Vergin said. "They have a little Bible study of a few people."

Here are some excuses you'll hear from believers:

- It was Madeline's time and God took her home. She's now having a grand time in the Pearly Playground with other kids that God had taken out.
- As her parents claim, they did not have enough faith. Apparently their faith didn't quite reach the size of a mustard seed.
- It was Madeline who didn't have enough faith, or she didn't believe at all (which means she's now on her way to Jurassic Park).
- There weren't enough who prayed. You see God's not only judge, jury, and executioner, he's also a compulsive bean counter. The numbers must be right, or prayers land on deaf ears.
- The Neumanns weren't part of the Lutheran/Baptist/Catholic/Landover/Vodoo/.... church and so their entreaties were null and void
- The devil meddled and the healing was thwarted. Perhaps The Evil One was able to jam the parents' mental transmissions and so God failed to receive the text messages.

The one thing religionists will not admit, will not accept is the simplest hypothesis: that prayer does not work. It doesn't matter a whit that scientific studies have refuted the claim that intercessory prayer is efficacious. Since religionists firmly believe in prayer and is part of their core belief, this belief trumps any and all disconfirming evidence. Their faith in the power of prayer must win over their commonsense and critical faculties, else their worldview crumbles, their hopes are dashed, and they experience a psychological death of sorts. Vis-a-vis prayer, cognitive dissonance leads to a myriad rationalizations and ad hoc explanations, practically never an admission that belief in prayer is a delusion.

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