With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.
No conflict between science and religion, you say? Have a look at this article from the Minneapolist StarTribune. Thirteen-year old Daniel Hauser, whose parents are Catholics but adhere to the healing practices of “the Nemenhah religious group” (this appears to be a Native American religion that believes in spiritual and herbal healing) decided that he didn’t want treatment for his Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Instead, he wants herbal treatments, and his parents are supporting him. With chemotherapy, the cure rate is very high; doctors say that without it his survival probability is 5%.
The Hausers are in court:
Colleen and Anthony Hauser are in a legal battle with Brown County, where authorities are accusing the parents of child neglect and endangerment. After Daniel stopped chemotherapy after a single treatment, opting instead for “alternative medicines,” child protection workers went to court requesting custody.
Doctors had recommended six chemo treatments, followed by radiation. Dr. Bruce Bostrom, a pediatric oncologist at Childrens Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and Daniel’s treating physician, on Friday estimated the risk of death from forgoing treatment at about 95 percent. And he testified that Daniel’s tumor had grown since he underwent one chemotherapy treatment in February.
“What is the ultimate outcome of that process?” Tom Sinas, an attorney for the guardian ad litem, asked of the tumor’s growth.
“Death,” Bostrom replied.
The StarTribune report goes on:
The Hausers declined to speak to reporters after Friday’s court session. But Dan Zwakman, a member of the Nemenhah religious group to which they belong, acted as the family spokesman. He argued that this is a case about religious freedom, noting that the group’s motto is “our religion is our medicine.”
. . . Earlier in the day, Dr. Bruce Bostrom of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, who first diagnosed the cancer when the boy arrived at a Minneapolis emergency room in January, said Daniel has a 95 percent chance of survival if he receives chemotherapy.
Bostrom also said he believes Daniel does not fully understand his condition.
“I think that he understands that he was sick,” Bostrom testified. “He doesn’t understand that the Hodgkin’s is what’s making him sick, and he was led to believe that the chemotherapy was making him sick, when the exact opposite was true.”
“Religious freedom” is not the freedom to kill a child through withholding science-based medicine. A 13-year-old child, perhaps brainwashed by his parents, simply cannot make this decision for himself. This is a life-or-death conflict between science, which can save the child, and religion, which is killing him. No conflict here? What would Francis Collins say?
(Thanks to P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula for calling this to my attention. He has a post on this incident.)