Editorial: Prayer or Science? Faith or reasonBy Ricky Roehr, North American leader of the Raelian Movement
You may have heard of the tragic story of an 11-year-old girl in the U.S. who died of untreated diabetes because her parents refused to take her to the doctor, believing that God would heal her if they only prayed sincerely enough. Her parents believed that God made her sick in order to test their faith. They prayed, asked friends and family to pray and even sent out emails for an “urgent prayer”. According to the complaint (the lawsuit which was filed), the parents of 11-year-old Madeline Neumann believed physical illness was due to sin, curable by prayer and by asking for forgiveness from God. Sadly, Madeline died on March 23, 2008.
A very similar thing happened only days earlier in Oregon (USA) when parents of a 15 month old girl died of a bronchial infection which antibiotics could have easily cured. They were sure that prayer would heal their child. This seems to happen surprisingly often in the U.S. even though it is one of the most technically advanced nations on Earth.
Before going any further, we send our deepest condolences to the parents and extended family of these young girls who are surely now living through something very difficult. While keeping in mind the tragedy of this situation, there are some very interesting things to be examined here which seem to elude the monotheistic society in which we live.
We all know that almost anyone who believes in a god in this day and age doesn’t hesitate to see a doctor when they or a loved one is sick. Even the Pope himself or his counterpart in any religion often have several doctors to see after them. What is almost always forgotten, however, is the fact that all of the former Popes etc. were vehemently against the development of the very things which their successors’ happily used in order to live much longer. There is a strange contradiction there. The last generation’s religious leaders were very much against vaccines, blood transfusions, organ transplants, antibiotics, surgery etc. Their faith was strong and they were very clear in warning millions of followers that “man is meddling in God’s domain…that the power of life and death comes from God alone”. Then only a couple of decades later, their successors use that “immoral technology” in order to stay alive. How can their successors accept all the medical assistance their former leaders said was immoral and against God’s wishes? Does it not seem that the late Pope et al betray their predecessors? (thus betraying God since these were God’s spokesmen) How can all who consider themselves true believers yet use all the medical advancement of the last 80 years reconcile this? We would have to deduce one of two things. Either they don’t really believe what they claim to believe, or, they don’t see it as a contradiction of their belief.
It’s a little of both.