« Religion makes Arab-Israeli conflict much tougher to solve | Main | Taoism wisdom: life is change, so flow with it »

September 24, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I always liked the story of the man caught on the roof of his house during a flood. he asked god to save him. Helicopters tried to pick him up several times, but he was waiting for god. After he drowned, he asked god in heaven why he had not been saved and god said that he had sent the helicopters several times and the man had refused their help. 'god' sends the doctors too after training them for close to a decade.

Thank you providing reason and highlighting the destructiveness of religion.

If we could get all the fucking idiots to quit fucking there would eventually be no idiots.

I detect a certain amount of vitriol in this posting, respondents included. That goes for me, too. All of a sudden, I have a dog in this hunt, scheduled as I am to become a grandfather in December (much to my chagrin, unfortunately).
I wish I could say that this is a non-issue for me, but I cannot. One thing I can say is that I am clueless as to an appropriate response. Life is like that.

Your hatred and contempt change nothing, Churchless, with the possible exception of your capacity for compassion.

Brian from Colorado: you're right. I detest people who let sick children die needlessly. I hope I always feel that way. It seems to me that this is a sign of my compassion. If I didn't get angry when religious zealots engage in what amounts to child sacrifice, I'd worry about myself.

So, you think the likes of Ms. Keith to be effing idiots. What then? Do idiots not deserve compassion?

What about an atheist woman who, finding herself in very adverse circumstances, comes to believe that life is but a brief and pointless fog of pain and suffering, and so decides to kill herself and her young child in order to save them both from further misery? Would such an equally misguided person warrant similar detestation?

Brian from Colorado, there's a big difference between individual and collective madness. Lots of people hate Jews, but only a Hitler, with the force of a collective behind him, could kill millions.

Yes, there are mentally ill individuals who believe, and do, crazy stuff. But the Followers of Christ church has been encouraging their members to pursue faith healing for children with serious health problems for many years.

Numerous children have died. There have been several indictments and trials by law enforcement authorities. This is a case of collective child abuse in the name of religion, not a case of an individual mentally ill person.

When I say these people are "crazy," I'm not speaking clinically -- as likely would be the correct diagnosis in the example you gave of someone who killed themselves and their child. Again, this is ongoing, considered, willful child abuse in the name of religious dogma.

Oh, then they're not misguided, just willfully evil?

Here's a brilliant book I'd recommend, (written by an exceedingly bright young lady with impeccable lefty creds, btw):


Ignore the blurbs; its most important message has to do with understanding how ALL of us come to believe things, and why we ALL tend to think that our beliefs are obviously self-evident, while those of our opponents can only be based on ignorance, stupidity and/or malicious intention.

You used the term "evil," not me. I don't believe in evil. I believe that some people suffer from a deficit of empathy. Yes, this likely is a neurological problem. But religion exacerbates it, encouraging people to accept that the imagined dictates of a distant God are more important than saving a child's life in the here and now.

But what about you, old chum? What informs your belief that saving a child's life is important in the here and now? In the end, wouldn't your world view dictate that it's just a neurological function as well? In fact, isn't this view just the product of one more program call in the brain machine which randomly evolved to perpetuate mindless DNA?

From this perspective, and thinking more generally, what is it then that makes one view proper and right and another indecently wrong? I ask this in all seriousness and am curious about the basis you would assert for establishing the legitimacy of values.

Brian from Colorado, people sometimes say to me, "Brian, you think too much." Well, I don't think I do -- but I might as well try this statement out on you:

Brian, you think too much.

This issue seems pretty darn simple. Laws are a reflection of a culture's collective moral judgment. Oregon law says that parents have a responsibility to provide necessary medical care to seriously ill children (for all I know, moderately ill children also).

A jury soon will consider whether the parents of the baby who died are guilty of child neglect. If the medical evidence shows that the baby could have been saved if treatment had been sought, rather than anointing the baby with oil and trusting in Jesus, I believe the parents are guilty.

What do you think?

Your comment above is unduly abstract and theoretical. We have laws. We make moral judgments. Philosophers and theologians can argue about the nature of morality, but the need to hold people accountable for certain actions continues on regardless.

If you have a moral/legal argument for why it is OK to let a baby die instead of providing medical care, because the parents believe Jesus will heal the child, I'd be interested in learning what it is.

Thanks for your response and your patience. Of course, I have no moral/legal argument for why allowing a child to die in such circumstances is acceptable, nor would I wish to assert one. But to sum things up, it would seem that your position on the question amounts to a form of "because everybody says so" - basically an appeal to collective authority. Small wonder then that you'd worry about the influence of fundamentalist idealogues on society if the definition of moral norms boils down to that. To be sure, there's an aspect of truth in thinking that way, but what's more important (in my mind, at least) is how we can respond constructively to those we disagree with, and how we find a way to live in peace in a world that, as the Taoist say, is ultimately forever out of our control.

I'm sure there are folks (primarily atheist philosophers in academia, I'd expect) who still make a good living chasing words about in circles on the subject of ethics and morality. But at least we can agree that it's a tricky and difficult subject in which to delve at depth.

BTW, I don't think I think too much; I think I think just the appropriate amount! :)

Brian from Colorado,

your arguement is pointless and absurd.

it's simply a matter of common sense and human rights. common sense dictates that individual children's lives are vastly more important than someone else's (the parents) abstract religious bias. children have fundamental rights, just as adults do. they have a basic human right to be given all possible medical assistance, to save their life. they have a right to life, a right to not die due to a lack of medical care caused by obstruction or by neglect. a child's right to life and to necessary medical care supersedes their parents narrow-minded religious beliefs or whims. period.

if the parents denied or obstructed or prevented the human rights of the child, and the child dies as a consequence, then the parents are guilty and responsible for causing the death of the child. period

and no amount of nonsense rationalizations or intellectual jugglery excuses that.

Interesting discussion.

Parents allow a child to die because of their illogical religious belief in a sky-god, thus not seeking medical care for their baby.

Yet, people advocate violence against doctors providing termination of unwanted pregnancy...because of their religious view that abortion is killing a fetus.

Perhaps, it is man's concept of religion that is the root of evil...

What is man's concept of religion, that would be the 'root' of evil? The person, asking this question would have a belief in something called evil?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.