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Judge tries to save little girl’s eye….from her parents

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 15, 2010

Yes, you read it right. The 7-month old daughter of  members of the Followers of Christ church, risks loosing eyesight in her left eye due to blatant medical neglect on the part of her parents.

The Wylands’ daughter, Alayna, had a small discoloration over her left eye when she was born.

The area started swelling and the fast-growing mass of blood vessels, known as a hemangioma, eventually caused her eye to shut, pushed the eyeball down and outward, and affected the eye socket, said Dr. Thomas Valvano, a pediatrician at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University.

“This was medical neglect,” said Valvano, who testified at the hearing. Alayna could lose vision in her left eye and probably will need surgery, he said.

I’ve read versions of this sad story countless times, yet I still cannot get over them. How can a parent play dice with their child’s health because of their imaginary god? At what point do your parental instincts kick in and make you say “to hell with the church, I’m saving my child”? I guess never for these people; something’s wrong in their head!

The Wylands said they never considered getting medical attention for the growth and would not have if DHS had not intervened.

Attorneys for the Wylands said the couple weren’t given a chance to obtain medical care after DHS got involved in the case late last month and have been largely excluded from medical appointments.

So let me get it straight dear attorneys: the people who concede that they would not have taken their daughter to the doctor were impeded from doing what they weren’t thinking of doing by the DHS? That’s like saying : “The good Samaritan’s intervention prevented the rapist from stopping the raping of the victim”! Are you sure that’s the argument you want to make in defense of your client?

Gilmartin asked Rebecca Wyland why she didn’t take Alayna to a doctor.

“Because I believe in God and put my faith in him,” she replied.

And he let you down Rebecca; he let you down considerably. At what point will you consider dumping him?

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The illogic of belief

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 22, 2010

Via Unreasonable Faith we get this straight to the point comic:

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Were we born to believe?

Posted in News by Skepdude on April 9, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE TELEGRAPH

Rationalists such as Philip Pullman underestimate mankind’s built-in hunger for the sacred, argues Matthew Taylor

Philip Pullman’s new novel The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is opening another chapter in the often acrimonious debate between religious believers and atheists. This is not, of course, a new argument, but it is one that was given new life by the religious justifications offered by the September 11 terrorists, and there is little sign of it abating.

Although Pullman’s attack is more on organised Christianity than faith, the aim of other strident atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens or Daniel Dennett, is to use the hammer of science and rationality to break the chains of religious superstition. Indeed, since the Ancient World, intellectuals have predicted that faith would wither away in the face of expanding human knowledge. But the prediction was wrong. Demographic trends suggest that the proportion of the world’s population who follow a major religion will rise to about 80 per cent over the coming decades. Even in countries with low religious observance – such as Britain – there has been no decline in the number who say they believe in God.

The resilience of religion has been a spur to scientists interested in understanding the evolutionary, developmental and neurological basis of faith. Among evolutionists, the big debate is between those who argue that religious belief has helped human beings prosper as a species, and those who see faith merely as a by-product of other aspects of our development.

The evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson is perhaps the most prominent advocate of the adaptationist view, arguing that religious belief helped make groups of early humans comparatively more cohesive, more co-operative and more fraternal, and thus better able to fight off less organised foes. And as human needs changed, so did the content of religious belief. In close-knit tribal cultures, there are many gods residing in nature, but in modern mass societies, where it is harder to enforce social norms, a single all-seeing God helps keep us on the straight and narrow.

Adaptationist accounts are far from universally accepted. Richard Dawkins describes the group selection theory that underlies Sloan Wilson’s account as “sheer, wanton, head-in-bag perversity”. But whatever is happening at the group level, there is something about the way individual human beings develop that makes us susceptible to religious belief.

Clues to this lie in the study of child development. It appears, for example, that at a particular age – usually around 10 – children become fascinated by big questions about life, death and the origins of the universe. At earlier ages, as children begin to apply language to the world around them, they seem to ask questions for which religion has answers.

We appear, for example, to be natural creationists. A child’s account of nature relies on what developmental psychologists call “immature teleology”. This is the idea that something exists because of the function it provides for the child: the river is there so I can swim in it, the tree so I can climb it. If something has a purpose, it must have been created for that reason.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE TELEGRAPH

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God “warns” rape victim

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 22, 2010

Unfortunately, the warning came a bit wee too late to do her any good, not that she minds that apparently.

The wife of gospel singer Louis Brittz, who was raped by a robber on Monday night, has told how the Lord had warned her that she was to be raped.

However, as it will become apparent, god’s “warning” was more of a you’re-screwed kinda statement rather than a proper warning, which name carries with it the implication that the victim-to-be has a chance to do something about it. The victim in this case never got a chance!

Later the robbers took him away. One stayed with Hettie where she lay with her hands tied, half under the bed.

She said while she was lying like this, she heard the Lord tell her: “Hettie, you are my bride”.

She answered: “Yes, Jesus, I know.”

She said the Lord then told her that the man would rape her but not hurt her. The rapist was also not violent.

Well, not violent except for the forcefully having his way with her that is! Now can someone explain the creepy “you are my bride” comment from god? I thought she was married already! I’m confused, but then so are many christians.

She said this didn’t mean the rape was unimportant. It was also not unimportant to the Lord. He said after all that he collected people’s tears and that the blood of believers was precious to him.

I am sorry but I’d much rather he made sure such tears and blood were never shed instead of collecting them. What’s that mean? Does he have little jars in shelves in some heavenly warehouse?

She said she knew people would say she was living in denial. She herself was a therapist, however, and knew what trauma involved.

And people would be right to say that. Any therapist worth her salt would probably say that a person undergoing a trauma probably shouldn’t be self treating her trauma, not anymore than a surgeon should be performing his own appendectomy at home, because, you know, he’s a surgeon; he knows what an appendectomy involves.

To The Followers of Christ, Oregon City

Posted in JREF by Skepdude on February 4, 2010

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT RANDI.ORG

Oregon City teenager Neil Beagley died in June 2008 following complications from an untreated congenital urinary tract blockage that flooded his system with urea, causing renal failure, heart attack, and death.beagleys

Neil Beagley didn’t die in a hospital. He didn’t die surrounded by doctors who were stumped regarding his next stage of treatment. Sixteen-year-old Neil Beagley didn’t die peacefully with an IV in his arm pumping in morphine to lessen what must have been excruciating pain. He died in his grandmother’s bed, without having received any medical treatment of any kind. Doctors say that Neil’s illness was treatable right up until the day he died.

Jeff and Marci Beagley, Neil’s parents, are members of Followers of Christ Church of Oregon City – a fundamentalist organization that teaches a literalist interpretation of scripture, and relies heavily on faith healing. The cemetery behind the church contains graves belonging to seventy-eight minors. It is estimated that at least twenty-one of these children’s lives could have been saved with medical treatment.

However, Followers of Christ Church shuns medical treatment – and the devout followers of the church refuse all medications and treatments, and visits to medical professionals of any kind.

Jeff and Marci Beagley have been found guilty of criminally negligent homicide in Neil’s death, and they are scheduled for sentencing on February 18th of this year. Of the twelve jurors deciding the case, ten found the couple guilty. Two found them innocent.

Oregon, prior to 1999, viewed faith healing as a Get Out Of Jail Free card. An individual could not be convicted of homicide in a case where religion was used instead of medical care. Then an act was passed that allowed for a compromise – faith healing could still be used as a treatment, but could not be the only treatment in cases involving children. Parents were thereafter required to (and it seems this should be obvious) take care of their children, despite their beliefs in deities, the laying on of hands, or the efficacy of anointing someone’s body with oil.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT RANDI.ORG

Ore. parents found guilty of neglecting ill son

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 3, 2010

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THE WASHINGTON POST

OREGON CITY, Ore. — An Oregon couple was found guilty Tuesday of criminally negligent homicide for praying over their ill son instead of seeking medical help.

The jury returned the verdict on the second day of deliberations in the trial of Jeff and Marci Beagley, both members of the Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City. Church members gasped as Judge Steven Maurer read the verdicts.

The couple, who remain free on bail, is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 18. Because neither has a prior conviction, state sentencing guidelines call for 16 to 18 months in prison.

Prosecutors said the Beagleys had a duty as parents to provide medical care for their 16-year-old son, Neil, who died in 2008 of complications from a urinary tract blockage. The defense argued the teenager had symptoms more like a cold or the flu.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THE WASHINGTON POST

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Doctor who hailed herbal cancer cure arrested

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 10, 2009

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT MSNBC

LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors brought fraud charges Thursday against a family doctor accused of promising terminally ill cancer patients in their darkest hours that they would be cured with an herbal treatment.

Using her influence as an ordained Pentecostal minister, Dr. Christine Daniel tapped into the vessel of faith to entice people from across the nation to try her regimen. She even appeared on cable’s Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2002 touting her cancer cure and its 60 percent success rate, according to federal investigators.

Authorities arrested Daniel, 55, at her San Fernando Valley home Thursday and charged her with two counts each of wire and mail fraud. If convicted, she faces up to 80 years in prison.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT MSNBC

Shame on Washington state

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on August 28, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTYR AT PHARYNGULA

My home state! In a region with some of the highest percentages of godless people in the country! And they have this awful law on the books.

Washington’s law specifies that a person treated through faith healing “by a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner in lieu of medical care is not considered deprived of medically necessary health care or abandoned.” Other religions are not mentioned.

Christian Science is not science, and it is definitely not medicine. I presume some religious lobby got this evil exemption on the books years ago, but now it’s time to remove it—it’s killing people. The mention of the law comes from a story about a young man, Zachery Swezey, who died a slow, painful death from a ruptured appendix, with his parents looking on.

The day his son died, Greg Swezey told sheriff’s investigators he knew Zakk would die 10 or 15 minutes before the teenager passed away. His condition had gotten much worse about an hour and a half before Zakk died, he told the investigators, and he realized Zakk was exhibiting some of the symptoms of death he’d seen when older church members died.

He did not consider calling an ambulance, he told them.

Who did he call instead? Elders of his church, who showed up to splash oil on the poor kid and pray.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTYR AT PHARYNGULA

Man testifies he expected God to heal his child

Posted in News, Skepdude by Skepdude on August 3, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT MSNBC

WAUSAU, Wisconsin – A father charged with killing his daughter by praying instead of taking her to a doctor read from the Bible while testifying Thursday that he couldn’t seek medical help without disobeying God.

Dale Neumann told the jury he didn’t seek medical help for his child because “I can’t do that because Biblically, I cannot find that is the way people are healed.”

He added: “If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God. I am not believing what he said he would do.”

Neumann, 47, is charged with second-degree reckless homicide in the March 23, 2003, death of his 11-year-old daughter, Madeline, from undiagnosed diabetes. Prosecutors say he should have taken the girl to a hospital because she couldn’t walk, talk, eat or speak.

Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family’s rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed.

Her father was the last person to testify in his trial. Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday morning.

Neumann, who once studied to be a Pentecostal minister, preached to the jury about his faith in God’s healing powers and cried out like he was talking to the Lord. He said he has been a born-again Christian since 1982.

‘Who am I to predict death’?

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT MSNBC

Skepdude says: Bullshit! This is child abuse plain and simple. Both parents deserve jail time, long jail time!

Faith and Reason

Posted in Rationally Speaking by Skepdude on April 14, 2009

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGILAN ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”

One of the constantly bewildering aspects of living on planet Earth is the assumption that most human beings seem to make that faith (usually, but not necessarily, the religious variety) is a virtue. This bizarre attitude — just to add insult to injury — often comes coupled with the equally strange idea that somehow too much reason is bad for you. Why?

Faith means that one believes something regardless or even in spite of the evidence. This, I should think, is so irrational, and potentially so bad for one’s health, that educators and policy makers would be very worried at the prospect of a nation where faith was praised and encouraged. I mean, suppose I tell you that I have faith in my auto mechanic, but then you discover that the guy knows nothing about cars, can never get one fixed, and on top of that charges me thousands of dollars every time I see him. You would be outraged at him, possibly to the point of calling for legal action against the rascal, and you would pity me for being such a fool. Now substitute any of the words “Preacher,” “Pope,” “Imam,” or even “Guru” for mechanic in the above example, change the care of my car to the care of my soul (whatever that is), and suddenly you get the phenomenon of strong social and legal defense of the concept of organized religion. How nut is that?

But Massimo, people usually ask me whenever the f-word is brought up, don’t you have faith in anything? Nope, I say, a denial that is immediately met with both bewilderment and commiseration. Don’t I have faith in my wife, for example? No, I trust her because I know her and know that she loves me. What about faith in humanity, considering that I profess to be a secular humanist? No, I have hope for the human lot, and even that is seriously tempered by my awareness of its less than stellar record throughout history.

Ah, but I believe in evolution, don’t I? Yes, I do, but notice the switch between “faith” and “belief,” two words that don’t necessarily mean the same thing at all. A belief is something one thinks is true, but beliefs — unlike faith — can be held in proportion to the available evidence and reasons in their favor. I “believe” in evolution because the evidence is overwhelming. I don’t have faith in evolution.

Okay, then, the irrepressible defender of faith might say, what about your acceptance of things you cannot possibly prove, either logically or empirically, such as that there is a physical world out there (instead of the universe being a simulation in someone’s mind)? Isn’t that faith? Nope, it’s a reasonable assumption that I adopt for purely pragmatic reasons, because it seems that if one rejects it apparently bad things will happen to him (like smashing his brains on the ground while believing that he can fly off of a skyscraper).

The exasperated faithful will then conclude that my life must be devoid of emotions, and that I am — once again — deserving of pity and commiseration more than anything else. But of course this is yet another common confusion that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny: my life is as emotionally rich as anyone else’s, I think, in accordance with both philosopher David Hume’s and neurobiologist Antonio Damasio’s conclusion that a healthy human existence requires a balance between reason and emotion. Without reason, we would not have been able to build our complex civilization; but without emotion we wouldn’t have given a damn about accomplishing anything at all. Still, while faith is obviously emotional, it is not a synonym of emotion; the latter is necessary, the former is parasitic on it.

What about this insane idea that somehow we live in a hyper-rational society which is already too burdened by the triumph of reason? If we are, it is hard to distinguish such society from a hyper-irrational one dominated by faith. This conceit that too much reason is bad is a leftover from the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment, the so-called “age of reason” (which lasted much too briefly, and during which time reason was heard, but hardly dominated human affairs). If one wants to have a good measure of how little reason plays into our society, one only has to listen for a day to what most of our politicians say, or to what most of our journalists write, not to mention of course the often surprisingly frightening experience of simply overhearing people’s conversations on the subway or at work.

We are frequently told with a certain degree of smugness that we need to go “beyond reason,” even though that phrase is uttered by people who likely wouldn’t be able to pass logic 101. Now, this isn’t to say that reason is boundless, much less that it is a guarantor of truth. Reason is a tool, fashioned by natural selection to deal with largely mundane problems of survival and reproduction in a specific type of physical and social environment. But it seems to work pretty darn well even when it comes to proving complex mathematical theorems, constructing excellent hypotheses about how the universe got started, and even providing us with decent guidance on how to conduct human affairs while maximizing justice and minimizing killings — at least in theory!

Faith doesn’t bring us beyond reason, as amply shown by the fact that not a single problem — be it scientific, philosophical or socio-political — has ever been solved or even mildly ameliorated by faith. On the contrary, faith has a nasty tendency to make bumbling simpletons of us, to waste our energies, time and resources on pursuit that do not improve the human condition, and at its worst it convinces people to drive planes into skyscrapers, or to mount “holy” crusades to slaughter the “infidel.” Faith is not a virtue, it is a repudiation of one the few good things human beings have going for them: a little bit of reason.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGILAN ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”

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