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God and Medicine

Yesterday, I took my 3-month-old son Orion to the doctor. While we were there, the doctor asked us the standard questions about his medical history and then she asked if there were any religious beliefs, which would prevent him from taking certain medicines or treatments. My wife just laughed.

Personally, I can’t imagine anyone letting their worship of their divine imaginary friend get in the way of helping their child medically. Yet, obviously enough people must put their children’s life in the faithful hands of ancient mythologies instead of in the skilled hands of modern medical science. While it is certainly true that doctors aren’t perfect and modern medicine has many gaps in their knowledge, I still think it is trustworthier than a perfect deity. And whether most Americans are willing to admit it or not, they think so too.

Now what if someone did refuse medical treatment for their infant child based on religion and the child died? Is religion responsible for that death? The parents are probably good people who have just put their faith in a perfect God over their trust imperfect human doctors. From a theological standpoint that is a no-brainer. How could society hold them responsible simply because they believe ridiculous mythologies which compelled them to reject science in order to secure their child’s eternal future? We can’t ask those parents to present evidence for their beliefs, because then we would have to ask all religious people to present evidence. And as we all know if there was evidence, than there would be no need for faith. God is testing us, lol.

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  • http://darthkiljoy.blogspot.com DarthKiljoy

    This makes me think of those who ascribe to Christian Science. It’s because of situations like this that some parents have had their children taken away and/or sued because of their unwillingness to trust modern medicine. As you stated, is it the fault of religion, society, or the parents themselves for putting the kids in such danger?

    • http://www.myspace.com/itsahicke Her3tiK

      I blame all three. Religion for keeping the BS ideas, society for applauding them, and parents for being too stupid/lazy to do their own research.

      Not that I advocate listening to pharmaceutical companies either, but that’s a different topic.

  • Kaire Downin

    I refuse treatements all the time based on my NON religion. My chldren are not vaccinated because I beleive that our bodies are made well enough and if there was a direct threat of certain illnesses that are commonly vaccinated for, I would consider it, but at this point, the science behind our natural bodies and allowing them to mature naturaly is better than filling a 10lbs baby full of metal and chemicals. My 3 children all have had different vac schedules, one had them all, when he gets a cold, he is sick for weeks, one had ONE when she was ONE year old and she gets moderately sick, and the one hwo had NO vacs is sick for 2 days while the rest of us suffer! I also beleive it is the right of the family to choose what kind of interventions or refusal of inerventions are right for them. If we mandate everyone to treat with modern medicine, regardless of kooky religions, we limit our own options. There is a case right now of a 13 year old boy who has undergone chemo for cancer once already and he and his family want to look into alternative treatmenst and the court is going to rul on whether or not the parents are acting neglectfully. We will never have the opportunity to explore options, medicines that work in other cultures, if our gov mandates who gets what kind of medicine. I will not be forced to use this modern medicine, I do not beleive in God, i do beleive in my perfectly functioning body, and that if we continue to “save” everyone with invasive and life prolonging treatments, we only firther hurt our society by over population, and survivla of weak genes…. I am true Naturalist, survivla of the fittest! Not the most medicated….

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Well Kaire, you are acting pretty irrationally. For starters, there is currently no vaccine for the common cold. So your children’s colds have absolutely nothing to do with their vaccine schedules. Second, the metals in vaccines are pretty minimal these days. There is no link between vaccines and autism as many people have feared. And if you wait until your child gets a disease which could have been prevented by a vaccine, than the vaccine is useless. My father had Polio when he was a kid. I will never get Polio. My son will never get Polio. But if I don’t vaccinate him, he might. Since modern medicine vaccinates against Polio, it is almost unheard of for anyone to get Polio.

      And finally, you believe that your body is perfectly functioning and that is a dogma which is ripe with irrationality. Contrary to your Naturalist beliefs, the Human Body is not perfect. That is why we get diseases, why people wear glasses and contacts, why people need many other medicines and medical treatments. If you don’t treat your children with modern medicine and they die, then YES you killed your kid out of negligence! Survival of the Fittest is borderline Nazism. I don’t agree with that philosophy and it saddens me that you do.

      • KAH

        While I agree that it is irrational to think that human bodies are perfect for any reasons and I know that vaccines have a great deal of evidence supporting their safety, I also get why people need to have options and why using western medicine isn’t always the best choice. Way too often society puts its trust in what we currently know and have and then later find out how detrimental or unnecessary the treatment turned out to be. Sometimes alternative treatments work better. I have certainly experienced this. I have also seen how miserable end of life has become for many people because in our society we insist on trying to save everyone no matter their quality of life. While it makes sense to try to survive up to a point, the way we have come to view and deal with death in our society is not healthy for individuals or the population. At the same time parents should not be allowed to victimize their children for any reason. But how does one regulate this? Children aren’t equip to make rational and informed decisions and even if they were they tend to be brainwashed by their parents. I suppose if parents were required to justify their decisions and were held accountable…. . Still, this is only an after-the-fact solution. I don’t think there is a reasonable way to address this issue.

        On a different note, the current oppositional thoughts on vaccines have to do with immune system stimulation and bombardment at a young age. The specific types of vaccines are no longer thought to be the problem, its that people think that childrens’ bodies are developing the wrong way because of the large number of vaccines being given to children when their systems are so immature. Vaccine opponents say that vaccination is responsible for the rise in autoimmune disorders. I’m not saying that I believe this but that is what the current popular objection is.

        • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

          I don’t think adults should be required to use modern medicine. Adults can make their own choices. Children on the other hand should be required to use modern medicine. If modern medicine doesn’t work, and parents want to take their children to see witchdoctors and faith healers, they are welcome too it. But for children, modern medicine comes first. To do otherwise would be negligent and the parents should be held accountable. For the record, all crime is enforced after the fact.

        • Kaire Downin

          Thank you KAH, that was the point I was trying to make. I do not trust modern medicine, I think that it is all practice and modern medicine just has the backing of $$ and politicians so people think it is the “right thing to do”. I will not medicate my child for ADHD just becuase the doctor prescribes him the meds and that is not neglect, that is taking responsiblity for making sure that I have tried everything else, like diet and supplements before putting those chemicals and altering my child’s brain chemicals. The same for vaccines. If Polio is so uncommon, I guess I should not be forced into vac’ing my kids, if it became more prevelent, than I would make the choice. Staks, I am dissapointed in you that you would take such a harsh stance towards my right to choose what is right for my family based on my own research and not what is fed to me by governement and media. You are not as open minded as I thought. Medicine and prolonging lives is part of what got us in to this mess of over population and living as un naturally as we do, destroying our planet and everything that makes it inhabitable. Why on earth would you beleive that western modern medicine is the best solution? Because that is what you have been FED! You need to do some more research on diet and human anatomy Staks. I have been studying natural medicine for 15 years, I have seen amazing results from homeopathic, chiropractic, massage, nutrition, herbal, midwifery, acupunture and many other modalities of natural medicine when western medicine has FAILED. the governement, you and churches have NO RIGHT to tell ANYONE what kind of treatments they should or shouldnt have or how to treat their family members. It is a personal choice that should be based on education, culture and what works for THEM. You telling someone that they HAVE TO treat their terminally ill child with a product that they have to go bankrupt to obtain and will make the quality of life of what is left of that person’s life miserable, is playing GOD and sine you dont beleive in GOD I suggest you start educating yourself of other options since you are so good at that. Not all “alternative” non western medicine is faith healing and I have seen more results from WITCHDOCTORS than you could even imagine. There is a reason natural medicine has made it this far in the history of humans, when used properly it works.

          • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

            First of all, ADHD is a psychiatric illness, so unless your son was proven to be a danger to himself or others, no one would or should force medication on him. That is not what we are talking about here. That is a red-haring.

            “If Polio is so uncommon, I guess I should not be forced into vac’ing my kids, if it became more prevalent, than I would make the choice.” Then quite honestly it would be too late. Vaccines prevent illnesses, they do not stop them after the fact.

            Then you throw up another red-haring, healthcare. On this issue I am sure we agree. The American Healthcare system is broken. I have continually pushed (including but not limited to lobbying Congress) for a single payer healthcare system. But again that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about modern medicine which could save lives, but is being refused for whatever reason and could very well cost a child his or her life out of neglect.

            The fact is that doctors are not out to get you or your children. In most cases doctors are very well trained and know what they are doing. They are not perfect and modern medicine continues to improve and change. The Evil Government and the Evil Media don’t make medical decisions. That is just paranoia. While it is true that currently Healthcare providers sometimes do make those decisions, this should not be the case and we can both agree on that. What we can’t seem to agree on is that Doctors should make medical decisions at least when it comes to children.

            As I stated before if modern medicine doesn’t work going to a witch doctor or a faith healer can be done AFTER standard medical treatment (when dealing with children).

            • Kaire Downin

              it is not a red herring Staks, these issues are are inter-related. If you mandate medicine, making it a law that modern medicine and doctors have the final say so on treatments on minors, you are opening a door that you do not want to enter. They are already discussing legislation that will require children diagnosed with ADHD to be medicated if the doctor prescribes it in order to attend public school. I will not sit and site my sources, I have to go to work, however, I am sure if you look, you will find I am right on this.

      • Kaire Downin

        the point about their colds and the vacs schedule had to do with the vacs weakening their immune systems and not allowing the body to develop naturally before bombarding it with chemicals. I guess you would advocate early cord clamping and cutting, elective c-sections and epidurals and inducted labor too? Do you even have children, Staks? Have you ever had to watch as a doctor man handled your baby for no reason other than impateince, have you heard the stories of women who were unneccisaritly intervened upon while in labor just so the doctor could practice a new technique or because the insurance company wouldnt allow a mother to be in the L&D for longer than 12 hours? Have you had a “life saving surgery”? Have you been to the ER 3 times in a week while watching your 10 month old die because they refused to do a chest xray because “she could cry so she must not have pnemonia”? Do you trust everything you hear? It is a wonder you arent a CHRISTIAN with this attitude!

        • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

          Actually, I my wife and I just had a baby 3 months ago. My wife had an epidural and the cord was cut and clamped shortly after the baby came out. No c-section though, but the doctor did have to actually touch the baby. I don’t know if that counts as “man handling” since the doctor was a woman.

          New techniques need (and rightly so) parental consent because they are new and not fully tested. Personally, I would welcome a new technique as long as it was properly explained and the risks made clear so that I could weigh that.

          Again, I agree with you strongly that insurance companies should not be making medical decisions, Doctors should. No argument with me there. And again, I have personally lobbied congress on this matter. I am currently in a fight with my insurance company and will probably blog about that in about a week or so if the insurance company doesn’t see things my way.

          Do I trust everything I hear? No, but I trust the scientific process and I trust that the doctors actually want to save lives and help people. The drug companies I don’t trust so much and that is why I strongly support oversight and evil government regulation on those drug companies.

          Does that make me a Christian with that attitude? I doubt it since Christianity is anti-science and pro-faith.

          Now you talk about witchdoctors and non-traditional medicine. What is the oversight on them? Are those practitioners regulated? What process do they follow and how do they reach their conclusions? Can those techniques be tested and replicated? If so, where are the studies showing that they work?

          • KAH

            Some things which are considered to be alternative treatments here are widely used in other countries, even prescribed by doctors there. They do have research backing their effectiveness but because they are “natural” the FDA cannot regulate them and drug companies cannot patent them and in general, not as much money can be made from them here in the US and so they are largely ignored by medical professionals. One good example of this is SAM-e. It really works for depression. It has virtually no side effects. It is safe even during pregnancy. It has lots of research backing it. It is prescribed by doctors in Europe. But it is natural and so it is mostly ignored by professionals here in the US.

            What if Western medicine really isn’t always the best treatment? Should a child be forced to receive it just because its western and commonly accepted? I am NOT a proponent of faith healing and think that subjecting children to religion in general is child abuse. But, sometimes parents might actually know some things that doctors don’t – even if they are religious parents.

            Also, did you listen to NPR today and the new research on the effects of prayer and positive thinking for loved ones? Very interesting. You should check it out. While I don’t see the results as pointing to evidence of God,there seems to still be quite a lot left to learn about and to understand.


            And, just because something is not adequately researched doesn’t make it false or useless, it just makes trying it a bit more risky.

  • Kaire Downin

    sorry for the typos…. my coffee hasnt set in yet 8-)

  • http://www.poweressence.com/ Maxwell Jennings

    Reminds me of the mother and son who are refusing to have him treated with chemotherapy because his cancerous tumor has grown. There’s a nation-wide hunt on for them and she’ll be arrested and he’ll be put into a foster home…after he’s forced to have the treatment. Granted, in this case there is religious brainwashing involved, but at what age should a child be allowed to refuse medical treatment?

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      At the same age that a child no longer is a child and is an adult. In America, that age is 18.

      • Kaire Downin

        ok so here is another example. At 21 years old, I was diagnosed with HPV as many young people are and the treatment was cryotherapy, where they chemically freeze a woman’s cervix, killing off the precancerous cells. It is a “painless” procedure so I am told. I schedule, go in, they start the procedure and I am experiencing pain and ask the doctor to stop, he calls me a baby and tell me to come back when I can take some pain killers since I could not accept pain killers as I was breastfeeding a 4 month old. I wait 2 years (yes, I breastfed that long, no I wont feed my child fake milk) and go back to a different doctor who tells me he wants me to do a cone biopsy, which is where they cut off a layer of the cervix to remove the cells while under general anesthisia. I say, give me three months to do some research and I will come back and let you know. He says, ok, but if you come back and have cancer, I will not treat you and refer you to someone else. OK, fine. I do my research, choose acupuncture and chinese herbal teas, come back in 3 months, have another test done and LOW AND BEHOLD I have no more HPV present, my cervix is beautiful and the doctor doesnt beleive me when I tell him I went to a chinese doctor who CURED me. That was 11 years ago. I have had no abnormal tests since. My expereince in midwifery however, has shown me that every single woman I know who has submitted to these treatments has preterm labor, problems concieving, miscarriages or failure to progress resulting in csections. MODERN MEDICINE IS A BUSINESS!! the OBs who perform these procedures know they will screw you up and you will have to have more interventions that get them paid. They BANK on it! The chinese doctor I went to does not get paid when you are sick, he treats you and when you are better, and have your routine treatmetns to help keep you in good health, then he gets paid, if you are sick, he does not. That is the difference. Our doctors get paid when you are sick, it is in their best interest to keep your body weakened. That is why they want to force all these things on your baby right at birth. Did they tell your wife that she could eat the right foods to prevent your child from having a vit K shot at birth. did they tell you that the baby’s brain receptors are not fully formed at birth and if you are exposing your child to extreme stimulous like bright lights, shots, manhandeling and seperation from their mother that they have a higher risk of anxiety and depression and immune dysfunction? Did they tell your wife that breastfeeding for 3 years of her life will almost 100% prevent her from having breast cancer, create a better bond, stronger immune system for her and her baby? Did they give you the statistics of how many women have natural birth vs medicated or interventions at the hospital, or were you smart enough to do that research on your own and stay home. OH WAIT I guess since refusing modern medicince is negligence for your baby, you wouldnt have stayed home and birthed in safety with a midwife, you probably filed in to the hospital like good little children and let the godlike doctors dictate how you were going to expereince birthing your child huh? How long were you seperated from your new baby Staks, when did your baby get to suckle? When did your baby get to come home? Did they let the baby room with mom? How is mom doing? Did you know that the reason that postpardum depression is SO high is because of these interventions your faithful doctors push on moms.

        Modern medicine has it’s place, but just like the church, it has no place in our LAWS or MORALS. It is an individual decision that should be based on EDUCATION and not just what BUSINESSES and CORPORATIONS and GOVERNMENTS tell you to do. They are about as equal as God.

        Tell me Staks, Would you let a Doctor decide the sex of your child had it been born intersexed?

        • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

          First, at 21 you are an adult and can make whatever medical decisions you like.
          Second, You assume a lot about my experience with my new born baby. Some of which you got right and some of it you got wrong. My wife and I did do a good amount of research into the birthing process. I have a friend who has also done a lot of research and shared that research with us. We had out son in the hospital. We stayed there three days and we were with him every moment we choice to be with him. The doctors didn’t even leave the room with our baby after he was born. We were right there the whole time. Within 15 minutes he was breastfeeding and the lights were dim not bright. He got one shot before we left the hospital and will have his second shot next week (three month check-up). That will be a vaccine that will PREVENT illness. Mom has had no postpartum depression and aside from some acid reflux (which runs in my family) the baby is doing fine.

          All this is interesting and anecdotal. Doctors get paid a salary by the hospital. They are not trying to make you sick so they can steal your money. Although I do like the way England runs their hospitals. In their program, their doctors get paid more the healthier their patients are.

          In any case, I think you have an irrational fear and paranoia of doctors and hospitals.

          • Kaire Downin

            yes at 21 I was an adult, however, my friend underwent the cone biopsy at 16 years old and had her baby 2 months early, ask her how she feels about the decision being made for her. At 15 years old, I had a “life saving surgery” and many decisions were made for me that effect the rest of my life. Had I been provided with the education and opportunity to decide for myself, I might have choosen differently. My parents were to ignorant to look into alternative therapies for my condition and I have the rest of my life to “live” with my condition that is worsened by the treatments choosen for me.

  • Kaire Downin

    what is irrational is idea that a doctor should make desicions concerning the life of your children. That if you dont agree with your doctor that they should have the final say so, tht people should be mandated to choose modern medicine first before choosing other means. Often times, modern medicine will further complicate a situation that could be treated holisitcally.
    Yes, providers of natropathy, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic and many other modalities require extensive training, licensing, insurance and regulation. Which is another reason it is screwed up that the majority of insurance companies wont recognize them as providers, it is because they WORK.
    My problem with doctors and hospitals is not an irration fear, my probem is based on first hand expereince, the expereinces of my peers and the extensive research I have done. I hope that if anything, you may look further into the subject and find that you may have an irrational trust of your doctors….
    yes, vac prevent illness, but considering the exposure that my children have to these illnesses is NONE, than I dont see why they should be forced to receive these vac on the routine scheduling that they insist on. WE as parents, shouldhave the choice of which vac to administer and when to administer them. Pumping a newborn child’s body full of these chemicals before they have had the chance to start developing their own natural immunities is detrimental to their bodies and weakens them agains many other diseases, even if they are going to be immune to a disease that is virtually non existant in our country. If you were going to be traveling to Africa, I would agree with you, but living in your suburbs is hardly a risk for polio…. that is irrational to over medicate and vaccinate for these diseases in this day and age. Like I said, medicine has it’s place and time, birthing a healthy baby with a healthy mom is not one of them.
    Postpardum depression can occur after the 3 month mark… dont think she is clear of it. I hope you will support her to continue breastfeeding and being close to your baby. I thought I knew a lot and had done a lot of research with my first too… Boy was I in for a surprise when the next 2 were entirely different in many ways… Open your mind Staks, Dont put limits and judgements on other people just because they are different than you. Mandating medicine is just as bad as religion. Yes there is science behind it but the results vary from pateint to pateint and proper diagnosis and timing. I am glad you are supporting single payer. I think that that will definitely make a difference in our system and prevent a lot of the things I have seen from going wrong.

  • http://www.myspace.com/atheistteam The A-Team

    Kaire, while I appreciate your position, it seems that you’re basing an awful lot of assumptions on anecdotal evidence, which is among the weakest forms of evidence there is. Contrary to popular belief, science isn’t a dogma; it’s a process of figuring out solutions through careful observation and testing. Unlike “alternative” “medicine”, science-based medicine is based entirely on what has proven effective under carefully controlled conditions.

    This is vastly superior than alternative medicine, which is almost exclusively based on anecdotes. To an alt. med. practitioner, proper controls aren’t in place to weed out other possibilities and account for error. Instead, they just operate under the assumption that if someone happens to get better, it must have because of something they did prior. Then they say, look, the patient says they feel better so it must have worked somehow that even I can’t fully explain. Of course science has known about the placebo effect for a long, long time and this sort of thinking is nothing short of superstition. I could just as easily flip a coin and convince myself that because much of the time it lands on heads patients get better, then there must be some kind of mystical energies being transferred from the coin to heal the patient. And I’d be able to point to plenty of anecdotes of it apparently working too. It’d be just as reliable as homeopathy, which is nothing but purified water.

    But real medicine recognizes coincidences and human error; it even accounts for them by conducting studies that look at thousands of people, some of whom receive the alleged treatment and some who only receive a placebo but think they’re getting the real treatment. Additionally, real science has a rigorous peer review process where it’s actually the job of other experts in the field to do their best to mercilessly pick the claims of a study apart, to further ensure bad research doesn’t get published in the reputable medical journals.

    Contrary to what is commonly claimed by alt. med. practitioners, it’s not in a scientist’s best interest to simply follow the status quo but rather in their best interest to make their research as spotless as possible and make breakthroughs. Nobody ever won a Nobel Prize for outstanding achievement in discovering nothing and sticking to the party line. Every great scientific mind has overturned previous research and have had some of their own research overturned. Even some of Einstein’s work has been overturned by now.

    Then there’s the issue of funding. Alt. med. practitioners love to dodge the issue of their own massive profits and pretend they’re just lowly mom and pop operations fighting the evil corporate machine of “Big Pharma,” but what they of course ignore is that the scientists aren’t idiots. They long ago built a wall separating the department that handles funding and the actual research being funded to prevent conflicts of interest. Now that doesn’t mean all studies are good studies or are free of bias. Each study must be carefully scrutinized to ensure quality. For instance, tobacco companies still conduct their own bogus research to suggest smoking doesn’t cause cancer. But this isn’t them funding studies at reputable institutions but rather front organizations created by the tobacco companies themselves. Whereas if a study is coming out of Harvard University, there’s at least a significantly higher degree of credibility from the outset. Now just a week ago, the pharmaceutical company Merck was caught publishing studies favorable to them in bogus journals they created. This fraud was not discovered by fringe conspiracists but by the scientific community itself, which is designed with internal oversight protocols. The bottom line is that the scientific process is designed with such protocols to dis-confirm faulty information over time. That’s why, unlike pseudoscience, as Carl Sagan says, science delivers the goods. Can you point to a protocol designed to dis-conform faulty information in the “alternative” “medicine” world? No, because we both know there is none. In their close-minded view, everything simply must work because people have been doing it for thousands of years and there’s lot of stories of it working. Of course, they never seem to wonder why if these ancient medicines were so good, people in ancient times had an average life expectancy of 30 years, that most babies died at birth, and that it wasn’t until the arrival of modern medicine based on science and evidence that all that changed and people’s life expectancy became almost 3 times longer.

  • Kaire Downin

    I have to disagree with you. You obviously are set in your beleif that all these studies are fact. You fail to see that there are many modalities of natural medicine that have been studied and proven to work. I also am of the opinion that “modern medicine” and the efficiency of agriculture developed around the same time and the combination of the two is what created the longer life expectancy whch I am not convinced is a great thing. I was never talking about prayer treatments, I was talking about techniques and medicine that are ancient tradition that WORK when used properly. I have experienced it first hand. I do not give a lot of credence to homeopathic, though I have seen it work well for some illness, it does not work well for all ailments and there are certainly better alternatives, like the actual use of herbs. MIND YOU that most of the medicines we use today are direvitives of these herbs and are the same useful chemical in the herb just made in a lab instead in the sun and dirt and combined with other things. If the application of a modality only worked on chance, then there would be no study, no technique, no pratice and the USDA and Gov would certainly not be regulating it. Notice that you do not have to have a license to perform faith or energy healing? I am not talking about those kinds of things. You obviously have not researched the other modalities enough to know we are talking about apples, oranges, and pears here…. I am no expert on any of the modalities just as you are no doctor. I do not have all the sources of information and have not performed certain experiments myself, my knowledge is based on my own studying, expereince and the experience of others JUST AS YOUR IS unless you have worked in a lab and have actually been trained as a doctor, than you really have no more proof than I do that either of our preferred choice of treatments work. The difference is I have tried BOTH and I know what works best for ME and MY family and I have every right to choose those modalities because they are safe and efficient just as you have the right to choose for your family and this is the USA where we have these rights. This whole conversation was based on your comment that parents should not have the final say in the treatment or lack of treatment because of religious beliefs. Where I agree that you should not be allowed to do nothing to save a child who can be saved, it should not be decided what SHALL be done by anyone other than the parent or gaurdian of that child or person. Had I not choose to go the “alternative” route when diagnosed with HPV (which I am thankful I have the modern medicine to test me for to get a diagnosis) I would not have been able to birth my daughters at home, with a midwife, in the water, with no complications whatsoever. I would have been forced to pay 2 times the cost and stuck in the hospital with tubes and knifes and stiches and a horrible expereince while my baby was tended to by another person because I would be recovering from suregery, have a higher risk of postpardum depression, and a life long memory of the ability to birth naturally taken from me. I do not expect you to understand me, you are not capable, but I do expect you to respect me. I was healthy, took precautions, I did not ignore my body or act like it was all in god’s hands, I educated myself, researched methods that work, have worked for hundreds of thousands of years, gathered supplies and had the choice of moving to a hospital if I *NEEDED* to. I have no problem using modern medicine when it is NEEDED, but over used, routine procedures, over practiced methods can be more harmful than good. just as you choose to protect your child from a disease with a vaccination, your choice is that if the benefit outweighs the risk, that you choose what seems to be the benefit, not getting this disease. I too made that choice when birthing my children at home with no doctors, not vaccinating them, supporting non circumcision where many parents choose differently and I am not trying to stop them from making that choice. WHY would you suggest that anyone not making the same choice of you, is automatically wrong? There was no science around to prove without a shadow of a doubt that the earth was round when people suggested it, many people thought that scientist trying to prove these things were nuts. We developed science to prove things, there is much about alternative medicine that cannot be proved, you are right, but that doesnt mean it will never be proved or that we have developed the science to prove it. That being said, if the occurance of the methods of alternative thereapies that work are more often than not, even with out a complete scientific explaination, is that not enough to give someone credit enough to allow them to make a choice for their bodies and their children’s bodies? Will every woman who decides to avoid the slew of interventions fueled by a doctors eagerness to get the process over and stay home to birth be charged with neglect if something doesnt go perfect? Will I not be allowed to make the decision to medicate, vaccinate, or treat my childrens non life threatening illness on my own? There is no ONE right way, there is only things that work and dont work, what works for you may not work for me and vise versa.

  • http://www.myspace.com/atheistteam The A-Team

    “You fail to see that there are many modalities of natural medicine that have been studied and proven to work.”
    Name one alternative medicine modality that has been proven to work, the name of the study, and the reputable peer-reviewed journal where the study can be found.

    “And I also am of the opinion that “modern medicine” and the efficiency of agriculture developed around the same time and the combination of the two is what created the longer life expectancy whch I am not convinced is a great thing.”
    Modern science is only a few hundred years old and modern medicine is only about 150 years old. Agriculture came significantly earlier. And no, rising life expectancy is the direct result of the advent of sewage systems, antibiotics, vaccines, and many other every day tools of science-based medicine, whereas things like acupuncture and natural stuff were around a lot longer. For instance, there’s a reason why people live on average 31.99 years in Swaziland and on average 81 years in Japan. I suggest you look at the chart reprinted in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy). In the 20th century alone, the average lifespan in the U.S. increased by more than 30 years.

    “MIND YOU that most of the medicines we use today are direvitives of these herbs and are the same useful chemical in the herb just made in a lab instead in the sun and dirt and combined with other things.”
    What you fail to observe is that drugs derived from natural herbs have isolated the beneficial ingredients and have magnified them, vastly improving upon the original herb. Further, many “alternative” “medicine” modalities have nothing to do with natural herbs at all, like homeopathy, which not only doesn’t work but CANNOT work because all it is is water diluted far beyond Planck’s Constant. Now if you are going to point to anecdotes showing how it seems to have worked because of a positive outcome, I can point to anecdotes of how my coin toss healed people too. Unless these methods can be illustrated under proper controlled conditions, there’s no reason at all to suspect there’s anything more going on here than placebo effect and people falling victim to the logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo prompter hoc, where one assumes that association equals causation just because one event preceded the other. But just because A preceded B doesn’t mean A caused B.

    “If the application of a modality only worked on chance, then there would be no study, no technique, no pratice and the USDA and Gov would certainly not be regulating it.”
    And if there’s no connection between Al Quada and Iraq, we wouldn’t be a war with Iraq, right? And why would our government pay for abstinence-only sex education classes if they don’t work, right? Governments are not scientific institutions who base their decisions on empirical evidence. They’re run by men and women who are just as flawed as the rest of us. And sometimes, maybe even often, they make bad decisions. Scientific studies are investigations, so there would be studies regardless if a modality worked or not. There simply wouldn’t be properly controlled studies that supports that the modality works, and indeed there aren’t.

    “Notice that you do not have to have a license to perform faith or energy healing?”
    Nor do you need a proper medical license to practice any kind of quackery. But of course that doesn’t stop acupuncturists from trying to doing whatever possible to create the illusion of legitimacy by making up their own licenses and their own bogus journals to prop up their nonsense. It makes all the business sense in the world to limit competition by demanding practitioners have to get a certain piece of paper before practicing, even though real science shows no meaningful difference in results between “real” acupuncture and “sham” acupuncture involving tooth picks that neither penetrate the skin or are placed in the supposed oh so important meridian points. It takes more than a piece of paper to legitimize a medical treatment; it actually has to work.

    “I am no expert on any of the modalities just as you are no doctor.”
    I am not a doctor, but I understand how proper science is conducted and how to distinguish science from pseuodoscience, whereas you understand neither. But if you would like to learn such things, I recommend reading “The Demon-Haunted World” by Carl Sagan or “Flim Flam” by James Randi or “Why People Believe Weird Things” by Michael Shermer or “Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine” by Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh.

    “I have every right to choose those modalities because they are safe and efficient just as you have the right to choose for your family and this is the USA where we have these rights.”
    Nobody argued that you don’t have the right to pay for bogus treatments. You’re an adult and have every right to shoot yourself in the face if you want. But you’d be hard pressed to find any culture on the planet where the community doesn’t take some responsibility for protecting the young, even sometimes against the parents’ wishes. It’s just basic human decency. And this is indeed that is how our own society is structured. That’s why Child Protection Services exist in the first place. And in the recent case of Colleen and Daniel Hauser, a court-appointed judge used his legal authority to order Daniel to get x-rayed and receive appropriate treatment to save his life. Instead, his mother opted to kidnap him and is now a fugitive from the law.

    “I educated myself, researched methods that work, have worked for hundreds of thousands of years, gathered supplies and had the choice of moving to a hospital if I *NEEDED* to.”
    Yeah, you just didn’t educate yourself very well and have decided you know better than those who have because you don’t like what they have to say. And as I’ve already explained, appealing to antiquity is a poor way to go. Before the advent of modern medicine, people believed in all sorts of crazy treatments like trephaning and blood-letting. Just because a bunch of superstitious fools in the past convinced themselves that things worked because they allowed you to live to a ripe old age of 30, doesn’t mean they do. That’s why modern science doesn’t just take people’s word for it but actually investigates many cases under controlled conditions to rule out error, coincidence, and placebo effect.

    “I too made that choice when birthing my children at home with no doctors, not vaccinating them, supporting non circumcision where many parents choose differently and I am not trying to stop them from making that choice.”
    Wow, I’m glad your not my mother. Surprisingly, I’ve never heard any 6-month-old make a decision one way or the other regarding whether or not to be vaccinated. Further, choosing not to vaccine doesn’t just your kids in harm but also potentially puts everyone around them in harm because vaccination can only be optimally effective so long as a certain percentage of herd immunity exists.

    “WHY would you suggest that anyone not making the same choice of you, is automatically wrong?”
    This is like saying to someone who says 2+2 doesn’t equal 5, just because they have a different view than you, that doesn’t make them wrong. No, the fact that they’re wrong makes them wrong and it doesn’t much have anything to do with what I think. You’re just projecting your own dogmatism onto me. I accept evidence and the consensus view of experts. It’s you who arrogantly asserts special knowledge that flies in the face of evidence and the findings of those more knowledgeable than yourself.

    “There was no science around to prove without a shadow of a doubt that the earth was round when people suggested it, many people thought that scientist trying to prove these things were nuts.”
    Ugh, like I haven’t heard this denialists gambit a million times before. First, you claim special knowledge that something works, and then all of sudden it’s all, nobody knows anything and everyone’s opinion is valid. Bullshit! As Plato explained so long ago, there is knowledge and there is belief. Knowledge comes from empirical evidence. Scientists didn’t just arbitrarily decide whether to consider the Earth flat or round; they used observation and made predictions. Then they tested those predictions and accepted the conclusions of those tests. All science is subject to revision upon new evidence. For instance, the Ptolemy model of the universe seemed to work…almost for awhile and then Copernicus came along and through careful observation and testing predictions, was able to improve upon Ptolemy’s model. There was nothing arbitrary about this paradigm shift. You like to think you’re in the camp that is right despite the fools who think you’re nuts, but you’re not. You’re in the anti-science camp calling those who have done the calculations and made the breakthroughs nuts. There’s nothing scientific about your beliefs.

    “That being said, if the occurance of the methods of alternative thereapies that work are more often than not, even with out a complete scientific explaination, is that not enough to give someone credit enough to allow them to make a choice for their bodies and their children’s bodies?”
    No, it most certainly is not enough. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This is one of the most basic tenets of a proper scientific investigation. But I’ll tell you what? Tell one of your alt. med. practitioners that if they’re so confident they can do what they say they can do, that they should submit an application to the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge. And if they say they don’t need the money, tell them they can donate it to charity. If they can do what they say they can, it’ll be a snap.

    “Will every woman who decides to avoid the slew of interventions fueled by a doctors eagerness to get the process over and stay home to birth be charged with neglect if something doesnt go perfect?”
    WHAT? Do you think every woman who lets her child starve to death should be charged with neglect? Why or why not?

    “Will I not be allowed to make the decision to medicate, vaccinate, or treat my childrens non life threatening illness on my own?”
    Medications for non-life-threatening diseases are not mandated by any government. But for diseases that are life-threatening like measles, mumps, flu, polio, pertussis, etc, in an ideal civilized society no, you would not.

    “There is no ONE right way, there is only things that work and dont work, what works for you may not work for me and vise versa.’
    Yes, we have a term for things that work. It’s called science. The stuff that doesn’t work, fails to prove itself through the scientific process, fails the peer-review, goes by another name: “alternative” “medicine.”

  • Peter

    What a trivial point, who the fuck cares? I consider myself a agnostic atheist but I still greet people with “merry christmas.” What, I’m going to give my grandkids a lecture a lecture on the origins of christmas? Old people in nursing homes, like my mother-in-law, enjoy this season and gives them great joy. If you make a person happy, what’s the harm? Get off the soap box.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NZMJ7JRYKH7WR6YTXJGG3PU65E John Grove

      I’m an atheist but I personally don’t care too much. It’s the holidays and people are happy. I’m not going to burst any bubbles because I am not a Christian. I may reply back to a ‘Merry Xmas’ with a ‘Happy Holidays’. In fact, I usually do and I have never gotten any bad looks back. I may say ‘Merry Xmas’ back but I usually do not.

      Bottom line for me, I am not in the habit of correcting people or bringing a smile to a frown. I have been corrected by a few feminists on a few occasions because where I am from in California I often say, “What are you guys doing”, even if there are a few women. I will of course take the hit if it offends someone and apologize but I am a laid back dude, a surfer. I don’t like making others feel awkward.

      If someone said “Reason’s Greetings” I would probably shake their hand though or give them a high five.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    I would not approach a stranger and say, “Reason’s Greetings” or one of the many clever alternatives some atheists use with each other unless I had reason to believe the stranger was not religious. I might reply in this way when wished “Merry Christmas” to show the well-wisher that not everyone shares his or her belief system. Strangely, the respect I would extend to the religious stranger rarely seems to be reciprocated this time of year.

  • smilondonsretreat

    I would submit that “skeptic” does not equal “atheist”… at least not anymore. And a lot of this stems from the cult like following of certain bloggers.

    It seems to me that the majority of people need something to follow. They may be atheists and not following god(s), but they are not skeptics. They don’t question, they don’t demand evidence for all sides, they are not subject to changing their mind based on evidence.

  • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Daosorios

    You should have seen Russsell Wain Glasser’s status update some days ago: he was defriending anyone who dared to disagree with Rebecca Watson!

    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      I’m not interested in calling people out, just addressing the problem.

      • Cephus

        The problem is, it isn’t as big a problem as anyone is making it out to be. Now I don’t use Facebook so I don’t “friend” or “defriend” anyone, but we can make similar evaluations. Take Twitter. You follow someone or you do not. Presumably, you follow them because you want to read what they have to say. If you decide you no longer care what they have you say and unfollow them, why is that the end of the world? I’ve got a list of blogs I read every day. If I take a blog off the list, how has that harmed anyone? People follow or unfollow my Twitter account every day. I change my blog list regularly. Things change. I don’t feel the need to make an announcement when things change, nor does it hurt my feelings if someone unfollows me on Twitter or stops reading my blog. Such is life.

        I really think the idea of “friending” online is pointless anyhow. In most cases, they aren’t your friend, they’re someone you ran into online who you’ll never meet face to face, never have a real-world relationship with, etc. So what?

        • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

          I think Facebook is different than Twitter in that sense. While I certainly am not friends with everyone on my FB friend list, I do form friendships with many of of them. One person in particular comes to mind. We sent long hours chatting with each other online about atheism and promoting each other’s work. But then she dropped me without any notice or conversation over a perceived difference of opinion.

          • Cephus

            Which, unfortunately, just goes to show how much she valued your friendship. It’s like atheists who are afraid to come out as atheists because they’ll lose friends. Um, anyone who rejects you because you don’t believe in the same imaginary friend that they do was never your friend.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NZMJ7JRYKH7WR6YTXJGG3PU65E John Grove

    I don’t use FaceBook so I cannot respond with regard to ‘Defriending’. But if a person is nice and cordial to me, I am always cordial back. In real life I am somewhat an introvert so I don’t have really any friends except my girlfriend. I really only hang around her.

    In terms of online, I usually find Christians as a whole to be generally obnoxious, not because I am not one but because of the unfalsifiablility of their faith. The invincibly ignorance causes them to have a flair of arrogance that turns my stomach. I don’t typically have a problem with any atheist I have corresponded with online. Some people are somewhat stand offish like John Loftus, but that is his prerogative. While others are very cheerful and pleasant like Jonathan Pearce.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.morris.798 Dan Morris

    I only deleted one Atheist page from my face book called the Black Squirrel Society. In the comment section of one post someone was promoting violence against religious people. Only myself and one other person stood up to say it was wrong and I deleted the page after people were defending this crazy asshole’s right to free speech. In all fairness though I did not notify the administrators of the page like I should have, I only asked them to remove the comments in the comment section. I should have reported it.

  • im_skeptical

    I would never be bothered by a Christmas greeting, but I appreciate those who try to be more inclusive. Unfortunately, on Thanksgiving day, I saw that Fox News had already begun their annual diatribe against the “War On Christmas”. People have been saying “Happy Holidays” for a long time, but Fox would have us believe that it began more recently as part of America’s current downhill slide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10512530 Wesley Fenza

    I’m defriending you for making a Star Wars Episode One reference. You are dead to me.

    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      There was an episode IV reference there too. Besides, I liked Episode I. Sure it was the worst of all the Star Wars films, but that’s like saying that’s the worst diamond in the jewelry shop. At the end of the day, it’s still a diamond. ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/GerhardPrinslo1 Gerhard Prinsloo

    We have the ridiculous situation of people defriending and Twitter blocking people who follow someone else who some other party wrongly accused of expressing an impure thought.

    This is no longer about minor disagreements and personality clashes, this is about prominent ‘skeptics’ who are making a mockery of skeptical principles and laying on the logical fallacies with a trowel. They have made it plain that it is their way or the highway on issues which they are intent on making central. It has gone way past the point where it is possible to not get personal. These people must stop being given prominent speaking positions or you can kiss the integrity of the conferences goodbye. Speaking for myself, I’ve had enough of seeing the main instigator of this rubbish giving sensationalised, hyped up talks full of self-serving misrepresentations to ‘skeptics’ lapping it up with ‘oohs!’ and “aahs!’. Skepticism is turning into a club, not a method.

    • http://twitter.com/GerhardPrinslo1 Gerhard Prinsloo

      The ‘skeptics’ I am talking about are prominent atheists who call themselves skeptics.

  • Prepagan

    I think you are being a little naive if you believe that this wave of shunning has anything to do with sceptical thinking. This is all about commitment to specific ideologies and the extent to which some people will sacrifice their scepticism in support of their chosen ideology.

    These people are welcome to shun me as much as they like and, while I’m sure they won’t lose any sleep over it (even if they notice) I reserve the right to disregard them too.

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    As far as I know, the modern theory of evolution is the only theory in the scientific community that works. It is pretty much settled science unless new information becomes available which completely destroys everything we know about everything. Still, I don’t think you should be unfriended just because you have an irrational view of the science of evolution. Instead, I would encourage you to learn more about why the scientific community has all but closed the book on this debate. The evidence for evolution is solid and numerous.