Wisconsin father convicted of homicide; prays instead of taking daughter to doctor

Dale Neumann of Wisconsin was convicted of reckless homicide for failing to seek medical help for his 11-year-old daughter, who suffered from treatable diabetes. His wife was convicted earlier for the same incident.

In the two days before her death, Kara, as the girl was known, grew increasingly tired and thirsty. Her appetite disappeared and she soon lost the ability to walk or talk. Prosecutors say her parents noticed the changes but didn’t do what most parents would do under such circumstances.

Instead of calling a doctor when Kara lapsed into unconsciousness in her final hours of life, they prayed. They called family members and friends, asking for more prayers and even e-mailed a faith-healing minister asking for emergency prayers.

Kara died on Easter 2008 of diabetes — a disease that had ravaged her body but with which she hadn’t been diagnosed.

. . . Quoting scripture and speaking with great conviction, Neumann made it obvious that he had no regrets about his decision.

From here:

Neumann, who once studied to be a Pentecostal minister, testified Thursday that he believed God would heal his daughter and he never expected her to die. God promises in the Bible to heal, he said.

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

I guess God didn’t come through this time.  All part of His incomprehensible plan, I guess.

madeline_kara_neumann_11yo_3.23.08-671x451

Madeline Kara Neumann, killed by faith

50 Comments

  1. Posted August 2, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Killed by faith and killed after months and weeks and days of increasingly severe misery.

  2. Hempenstein
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Organized religion’s brainwashing strikes again. Good that it appears that sanity trumped accommodationism in the jury.

    But: “The law also remains unclear, with legislators still pledging to act to close the holes that allowed this case to be tried in the first place.”

    I read this as “legislators pledging to allow this sort of thing to continue without fear of prosecution.” If that happens, it should be interesting to watch the next cycle of elections in Wisconsin.

    “Quoting scripture and speaking with great conviction, Neumann made it obvious that he had no regrets about his decision.” So he’s convinced he had God’s approval. How about Kara’s?

  3. Posted August 2, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I would say that there should be more prosecutions of those in his community, as well as that minister, of being accessories to this murder. Every one of them knew there was something serious happening to this child, but all they did was pray. They allowed this to happen before their eyes without making the slightest attempt to stop it.

    In fact, I’d guess there are a lot in his church that still approve of his actions even now.

  4. Posted August 2, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Jerry I mostly enjoy you blog and your writings on evolution, but please do not mix up your obvious issues with faith in genrela and religion specifically; The Wisconsin Father was not a healthy religoius man, nor did he act according to the tenets of the major interesting religions out there. I am not sure what the scientific point is of posting this “news flash” on your blog but it does nothing more than provoke a polarisation of the so called faitheists and atheists. This story should by any critical standard not be used as inference of anything more than proof of the variety of individual psychological health. It has little or nothing to do with religion versus atheism. I can send you examples of millions of good scientists/atheists that have made mistakes comparable with this.

    • gnome
      Posted August 2, 2009 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Please do provide comparable examples!
      Funny how you call it a ‘mistake’. A mistake is accidental, here they willfully and intentionally withheld medical treatment…
      It IS about religion. When religion is followed to the letter, this is what you get…

      • Michael Heath
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

        Robert Stasinski – it’s Dr. Coyne’s blog. He can post about whatever he wants.

        In addition, this sort of belief, while taken to an extreme here, is still rife within Christendom. It’s more dangerous implications is the lack of support science gets from fundies until they need help. For example, I know two people who were recently diagnosed with far more complicated treatment requirements than this poor girl. These two people sought and received medical care which successfully mediated their issues, one required an 11 hour surgery by two different surgeons. The synopsis by both after becoming well again was that God saved them and they continue to support suppressing science in the schools, students from going to secular universities, and any sort of career for their kids in the sciences. They both learned nothing and continue to serve as activists against science and science education.

        We need far more scientists to speak up about the process of science like Dr. Coyne does.

    • Tom Cameron
      Posted August 2, 2009 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      In fact, Robert Stasinski, you are wrong. There may be “modern” believers in god that feel the bible is symbolic and proverbial, but the bible quite clearly damns them to hell as well as those who would seek treatment versus praying. These were christians, not members of some other belief system. Every christian bible I’ve ever read was quite clear that god would answer prayers asked of him in jesus’ name. Obviously, this girl or her parents had sinned so badly that her death was necessary.

      Of course, the sins that require death as punishment are quite numerous in the bible, so they probably weren’t even aware of their sin. But god is just, and exacted the correct punishment for their transgressions. The bible says so.

    • Veronica Abbass
      Posted August 2, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      “Jerry I mostly enjoy you (sic) blog and your writings on evolution, but please do not mix up your obvious issues with faith in genrela (sic) and religion specifically;”

      Please clarify:

      1. You are asking Jerry Coyne to not mix up what with what?

      2. What are “the major interesting religions”?

      What is most “interesting” about religion is that people (like you) actively participate and pay dues to religious organizations (for example the Catholic church)that discriminate against women and abuse children.

      Please do not tell Jerry Coyne or anyone else what to post on a blog. If you want to explain away Kara’s death, get your own blog.

    • Posted August 2, 2009 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Robert,

      What Jerry is doing is pointing to the tip of an iceberg.

      I have a very mildly religious friend who said that praying made her feel like she was helping when she drove by an ambulance. When I pointed out that without that quick fix of righteous feeling she might instead give money or time to medical charities she didn’t know how to respond.

      From talking to many mildly (or ‘interestingly’) religious people I believe this sort of effect is extremely common. An even less subtle example is the action of the Catholic Church in AIDS-torn countries, which is surely murder if this is.

      Examples like this news story are rare, yes. But by pointing at them as Jerry has – by getting people to agree that yes, this was a terrible thing for someone to do – hopefully we can draw people’s attention to the great undersea mass, the “praying makes me feel like I’m helping” which is surely killing more people through inaction than this type of nutcase does.

      • Notorious P.A.T.
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        “The Wisconsin Father was not a healthy religoius man”

        How stupid. Letting religion control your life. . . is not religious, huh? I suppose if he were an atheist THAT would make him “religious”.

      • tomh
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        “Examples like this news story are rare, yes.”

        The only reason they are rare is that these cases are seldom prosecuted. The behavior itself is not that rare. The reason they are seldom prosecuted is the special privilege given to religion in our society. The federal Child Abuse Protection and and Treatment Act mandates that parents must provide medical care and treatment for their children, but allows states to make exemptions for religious beliefs. Thirty nine states have religious exemptions in their abuse statutes. In these states prosecutors seldom bother to bring cases like this to trial.

    • Divalent
      Posted August 2, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      So what you’re saying is that the father was not a TRUE CHRISTIAN?

      What are the “major interesting” religious sects that are populated by “healthy religious” people? And which ones are not? I’m very curious.

    • Jake
      Posted August 4, 2009 at 12:38 am | Permalink

      How depressing.

  5. Tulse
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    “The Wisconsin Father was not a healthy religoius man, nor did he act according to the tenets of the major interesting religions out there.”

    You’re right, of course — he didn’t attempt to directly murder his son because his god told him to, and didn’t offer his virgin daughters to a group to be gang-raped. Clearly he’s not up on his Bible.

  6. genecutter
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    To Robert Stasinski,

    You are exactly wrong – this incident has everything to do with atheism versus religion. You state that you can send examples of millions of good scientists/atheists that have made mistakes comparable with this. How about just one – can you please give just one example of someone who has let their child suffer excruciating agony and die slowly and horribly by refusing medical intervention based on their disbelief. Only religion can short circuit a mind into blind adherence to an irrational policy leading to the completely preventable death of an innocent child.

    It is gratifying that you enjoy this blog, mostly, but you need to pay more attention to the discussions here. Science and religion are NOT compatible, and polarization of this issue to make that evident is in fact the point. If Kara’s tragic does not demonstrate to you the need to unveil the failure of religious principles and replace faith with rational thought, then you have a lot more reading to do.

  7. Posted August 2, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    When some guy gets tortured for a short time and dies, he can be the son of god and serve at the right-hand etc etc etc.

    So, when a girl suffers for weeks, knowing the horror that at least in the back of her mind her parents are doing nothing to help, what does she get?

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you Lorax, these parents tortured their daughter in the name of god. There are few thing more disgusting than that.

  8. Jon Woodruff
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    “Madeline Kara Neumann, killed by faith”

    Jerry Coyne has magically isolated the variable. No need to consult the DSM — the culprit is faith in God. True, “faith” doesn’t normally lead to this kind of behavior (I’d bet serious money that more than 99% of America’s faithful would, in similar circumstances, take their children to doctors), but who needs a scientific diagnosis when we can engage in feel-good mudslinging?

    • J.J. E.
      Posted August 2, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Eating chicken doesn’t normally lead to choking deaths either. But when it does on occasion lead to such death, it is not wrong to cite it as the cause of death just because most chicken meals are completed without incident. Your argument makes no sense. An irrational belief in intercessory prayer led this father to kill his daughter through delusional neglect. That delusion was Christianity. Just because Christians don’t often kill their loved ones in this was doesn’t mean Christianity didn’t contribute to this travesty.

      • Jon Woodruff
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        You’re half-right about the chicken. But if the choking incident appeared on a blog that was mostly devoted to CRITICIZING people who eat chicken — the implication being, ‘therefore you shouldn’t eat chicken,’ — well you see where I’m going with this.

        This blog is largely about criticizing religion, right?
        Obviously delusion played a role, here, with the Neumanns, but “faith” and “delusion” are not synonymous. Sure, it’s possible that faith can lead to crazy delusions. But Jerry Coyne is deliberately equivocating when he uses the word “faith” — so as to tar all religious faith with the extreme stupidity of this abnormal couple. It’s a cheap tactic. It’s what annoys me about Pharyngula. (Do a search on PZ’s blog for “Fred Phelps” and you’ll get 178 links. I mean, Fred Phelps is a lunatic by Sean Hannity’s standards. The man is thought to be schizophrenic for fuck’s sake.) Atheists could better utilize the principle of charity when criticizing religious faith. That’s all I’m saying. I’m not defending Christianity. Rather, I’d like to see a more honest and robust criticism of religious faith, one that doesn’t mine the fringe for nutjobs, saying, “Looky here — THIS is what faith does.”

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        Umm. . . errr . . .how about what the Catholic Church does in Africa and India by indirectly promoting AIDS and unneeded births? Looky here — THIS is what faith does!

      • Jon Woodruff
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        That’s a complaint against Catholic theology. It’s not a complaint against religious faith generally. The equivocation, the tarring everyone with one brush, is what bothers me.

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        I gave you what you wanted, and you dismiss it as “a complaint against Catholic theology.” What I showed you is that the Catholic theology, and Catholics themselves, behave in ways that promote disease, death, and overpopulation, all on the grounds of faith. This is mainstream stuff. This is what you asked for, a “robust and honest criticism of religious faith.” Nor are these fringe Catholics.

        You’re a classic concern troll who apparently won’t listen to evidence. That is sin #1 on this website.

      • J.J. E.
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        The problem is that people of faith are loathe to criticize the crazy beliefs, actions, and believers. And somebody has to. Millions in Africa contrct AIDS and the policy of the RCC exacerbates the problem. Millions of Muslim women are treated as chattel, millions of American gays are called sinners, all in the name of delusions we call religion.

        And you are precisely part of the problem. That these petty unsupportable beliefs are sacred and bring out reactionary defense, is precisely the issue. This deserves nothing less than condemnation by you. And further, any Christian that is unwilling to unequivocally condemn it as well needs criticism too. And if you have the temerity to use a tragedy of delusion like this to repeat those tired and fallacious defenses, then you come off as a disingenuous ass who is more concerned with making sure that religion is respected when it least deserves it. Not to mention that in so doing you commit the No True Scottsman logical fallacy. Poor thinking, reactionary defense, and concern trolling all wrapped into one. Lovely.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        JW: “This blog is largely about criticizing religion, right?”

        No, it’s largely about evolution. Assailing religiously based lunacy comes by default since for 150yrs evolution has been attacked by the religious – the more fundamantalist the religious, the more strident is their attack. Look, Darwin didn’t set out to disprove Genesis, he presented a theory on how speciation has occurred and he presented observations and evidence to support his theory. As a corrolary to that he noted that this was not consistent with the story people had been told.

        They still come, beating the same tired drums, spouting the same mumbo-jumbo, scheming and conniving to put the imprimatur of science on their beliefs. If some of the more moderate persuasions that accept evolution were vocal in denouncing their fundamentalist brethren, things might not ratchet up so much here, but the moderates haven’t been, presumably because they don’t want to be judgemental vs. those of nominally similar faith.

        Thus, it should come as no surprise when examples of faith-based lunacy are held up to light here.

      • Jon Woodruff
        Posted August 2, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        Ok that was a little glib of me. I apologize. The Catholic Church is a seriously creepy organization that spreads disease, death, and every kind of unhappiness — you’re right.

        Really, my only complaint is with the caption: “Madeline Kara Neumann, killed by faith.” It seems crass. Not because I love faith so much, but because them fightin words actually represent broad and unfounded claims about the etiology of stupidity. When extreme stupidity and religion intermingle, as they often do, I’m not saying atheists should shut up about it — I’m saying the overconfident jump from, ‘Perhaps faith played a role,’ to, ‘It’s reducible to faith,’ seems both unwarranted and counterproductive. Maybe I’m wrong. I’ll leave it at that.

  9. Posted August 2, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    “The signature of god can be seen in the insulin”* — Stephen Meyer

    *faux quote.

  10. KP
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    To quote the late George Carlin: “We could simply ban religion and most of these problems would simply go away…but we don’t have time for RATIONAL solutions!”

  11. KP
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    ps. reading the article has put me in a really hostile mood. I’d change the caption from “killed by faith” to “murdered by God.”

  12. Jason A.
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Jon Woodruff: ““faith” and “delusion” are not synonymous”

    Wait, what?

    The point is the religious masses enable the fringe by giving credence to a clearly ridiculous belief system that spells out quite clearly that medical help is unneccesary if you pray for help. You enable them as well with comments like this.

    The fact that most religious people would go to the hospital first, then pray, only speaks about their lack of faith compared to the Neumanns of the world.

    • Jon Woodruff
      Posted August 2, 2009 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      Faith is one of those words that atheists and theists seem to have different ideas about. As an atheist I’m not speaking with much authority here, but from what my religious friends tell me, faith has more in common with hope than with delusion. They wouldn’t word it that way, but they talk about their faith being infused with doubt. It makes more sense to me, anyway, to think of (normal) religious faith as being more like hope than like true belief. I suspect in cases like the above there’s some additional dash of psychopathy involved.

      And btw, all this talk of “enabling” is grossly paternalistic.

      Ok, I’m really done concern trolling now… Peace.

      • J.J.E.
        Posted August 3, 2009 at 2:40 am | Permalink

        from what my religious friends tell me, faith has more in common with hope than with delusion

        Well, that’s just the problem. You see the whole religious perspective through rose-colored lenses. Yet I predict you would not be so charitable to topics that society as a whole agrees is equally without merit. It is this double standard with regard to how relevant evidence is that really chaps my hide.

        If a believer in “majority discredited”* beliefs like homeopathy or alchemy or astrology were to make a choice that resulted in the untimely, tortured, and completely unnecessary death of a child under their care, I make the prediction that you would be less likely to leap to the defense of people endorsing such nonsense, even if the majority of people who believe such things don’t engage in such negligent behavior.

        And btw, all this talk of “enabling” is grossly paternalistic.

        This demonstrates that you fundamentally don’t understand the argument, nor do you appear to be trying to. You traipse in, accuse the big bad atheists of not understanding, fire a few criticisms from the stock quiver of apologists, then declare that WE don’t understand.

        Let me break it down for you. There are certain ways of coming to consensus about the world. Some of these ways are very practical, evidence-based methods which try to make sense of the world in a way that anybody can agree about. By this, I primarily I the scientific method. Then there are other ways of “understanding” the world which deal with appreciating our humanistic reaction to various stimuli. Appreciating games, art, music, literature, sport, etc. fall in this category. However, religion doesn’t neatly fall into any category, as it is coopted to suit the will of its practitioners in a whimsical fashion. Some choose to use it as a tool for (frequently unjust) governance (Divine right of kings), some use it to maintain a particular social order, and some use it to justify wars and other excesses. In fact, sometimes people even use it as a humanistic lens with which to view the world, as many “liberal” Christians do.

        But this “richness” of understanding religion loses sight of the fact that it is very difficult to talk about any one aspect of religion in absence of the others without committing a No True Scotsman fallacy, as you have done. By your definition, what we are discussing is just “marginal” religion, it isn’t TRUE religion. But the Neumanns and Phelpses of the world would beg to disagree. By what criteria do you accept or reject faith healing, RCC church doctrine regarding AIDS prevention, Sharia law’s execution in marginalizing women, or Evangelical Christianity’s role in marginalizing homosexuals? You can’t. Your definition is:

        “If there exists a flavor of religion tolerable to me and I have some friends who will agree that they follow it, the presence of THAT religion is enough to demand atheists not criticize religion without heavy qualification.”

        But this is very wrong and very ad hoc and not at all useful. The type of things that Jerry, Richard Dawkins, and others emphasize is that without rational discussion in a framework that allows consensus building based on repeatable observations, any conclusions one makes are hopelessly subjective and immune to reason. This nasty little feature is what “moderate” religion, crazy snake-kissing deny-your-kids-medical-care Christians (the Pentecostal sect is what Neumann was following and is also home to most of America’s snake kissers), and dogmatic authoritarianisms all have in common: the refusal to subject their claims of authority and expertise to critical examination. And this refusal to subject themselves to skepticism is precisely what leads to deaths like that Jerry talks about in this post. Not only that, it saddles its followers with sexual anxiety (closeted Christian gays for just one example), existential anxiety (will I go to hell if I upset God by not following his Word?), and deep fear and sadness (Grandpa didn’t believe in God when he died, is his flesh now melting off his bones in a lake of molten sulfur?). Even if these “freely chosen” beliefs (if you can call indoctrinated nonsense like religion “freely chosen”) frequently cause no easily visible material harm, do they demand our silence because their proponents declare by fiat that their beliefs deserve immunity from criticism?

        To put it bluntly, any system of belief that claims the authority to remake a believer’s life and demands that they change the way they live demands vigorous and open debate, especially because such shoddy ways of thinking enables atrocities. This is NOT paternalistic, and to suggest that is missing the point and avoids discussion.

        We debate the merits of policy and other such ideas in the public sphere, why can’t we debate religion with equal or even greater vigor? The fact that religionists cheat by declaring their beliefs immune to scrutiny is no excuse. And every time some “moderate” theist claims space for their squishy, touch-feely beliefs and declares criticism off-limits, I wonder by what criteria they would criticize co-religionists who commit atrocities like Neumann? And all too often, criticism isn’t forthcoming at all or isn’t in proportion to the crime. In other words, they’re enabling.

        * By “majority discredited”, I mean any belief system that makes false claims according to both your perspective and the vast majority of everyone else. In addition to my examples above, one satirical example would be the FSM. Another would be Olympian or Norse pantheons. And two more equally ridiculous AND marginal beliefs might be Scientology and Mormonism, though both have achieved the nominal status of “real religion” so are starting to assume the mantle of immunity conveyed by “real religion”.

      • Jason A.
        Posted August 3, 2009 at 4:17 am | Permalink

        The best concise definition of faith I know of comes from Mark Twain: “Faith is believing what you know ain’t true.”

        If faith is equated to hope, it’s still delusional to act on sheer hope without regard for anything else. So Kara’s father ‘hoped’ she’d get better without going to the hospital. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

  13. Anthony Pham
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    “Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

    * Father convicted of microwaving daughter”

    wtf lol. Not relevant at all.

  14. Posted August 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Note how Misters Woodruff and Stasinski (above), in their urgent need to defend their own particular delusions from criticism, take somewhat opposed (but still both completely incorrect) positions.

    Stasinski complains that it’s only the particular faith beliefs of these particular religious people (the Neumanns & their fellow church-goers) that is the is problem, not religion itself. He is simply wrong about that: To the extent that anyone makes decisions about what to do in the world based on beliefs accepted as a matter of faith, without any evidence whatsoever to suppose that these beliefs might actually be true, such believers are prone to factual, causal, and moral errors. To the extent that at least some faith beliefs are central to most religious traditions and institutions, and to the extent that embracing faith as a way of deciding what to believe is treated as a virtue by most religious traditions, religion in general is precisely the problem.

    Meanwhile, Woodruff complains that faith itself isn’t the problem, it’s just particular religions – the Neumanns’ crazy church, then Catholic theology. But the reason for the problem in both is the particular beliefs held as a matter of faith by the religions’ respective adherents. Yes, it’s true that many people who hold to some beliefs as a matter of faith don’t hold to these particular beliefs which condemn others to death – by generalized refusal of medical care and by rejection of life-saving preventive measures such as condoms in these particular cases. But holding ANY belief that can affect how one acts in the world as a matter of faith – that is, without any legitimate evidence or argument to support one’s belief – makes it vastly more likely that the affected actions are going to have ugly consequences. When whole swathes of scientific facts are dismissed out of hand because they clash with faith beliefs, public education and scientific advances and socioeconomic progress are all undermined. When whole swathes of humanity are reduced by faith beliefs to secondary social status (or even treated as less than human) simply because they are infidels or female or gay for just a few examples, morally ugly consequences follow. And so on.

    The culprit is not “faith in God” particularly, as Woodruff snarkily describes it, nor did Dr. Coyne say it is: “Madeline Kara Neumann, killed by faith,” he captioned the picture – and he’s right. The culprit here is faith itself. Faith is a disastrously and inherently flawed way to determine what beliefs to hold, especially because the beliefs one holds inevitably shape the actions one takes. When one bases one’s actions on beliefs that are supported by evidence and reasoning to the best of one’s knowledge, any bad consequences that still follow due to the limits of one’s knowledge can accurately be called ‘mistakes’ or ‘accidents.’ When one ignores evidence entirely in embracing some beliefs and then bases actions on those beliefs, any bad consequences that follow are entirely one’s own fault – those consequences are not mere ‘mistakes’ or ‘accidents,’ they are the entirely predictable and morally culpable results of one’s willfully chosen ignorance. That’s what ‘negligence’ means. Unfortunately, the widespread custom of walling off religion from criticism prevents us from even acknowledging – let alone holding people culpable for – the many horrible things that people do which are the direct results of faith-driven negligence.

  15. SLC
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Although the identity of the gunman is unknown as we sit here at this moment, I would be willing to bet big money that the cowardly killer of three in Tel Aviv was motivated by religious belief. The two part series made in Great Britain and featuring Richard Dawkins as the narrator was well named. Religion is, indeed, the root of all evil.

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1248277947570&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    • Posted August 3, 2009 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      Interestingly, Dawkins repeatedly stressed that he didn’t like the title ‘Root of all Evil?’, because the idea of any one thing being the root of all evil was absurd.

    • Posted August 3, 2009 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      “Dawkins has said that the title The Root of All Evil? was not his preferred choice, but that Channel 4 had insisted on it to create controversy.[1] The sole concession from the producers on the title was the addition of the question mark. Dawkins has stated that the notion of anything being the root of all evil is ridiculous.”

      From Wiki.

  16. Posted August 2, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    To G Felis and others,
    Once again, no one in these comments has presented any substantial ”evidence” or data that would motivate anyone to deem religiously based reasoning worse completely inadequate. (Do you even know how religious knowledge structures are constituted? I do not see a single comment that do. In that case you are criticizing a very limited, easy target of what is labeled as “Religion”)

    I understand the point about the Wisconsin-death, but in all honesty, if the father of Madeline Kara Neumann were to be an atheist, why would any one surmise that he would suddenly become smarter and more thoughtful and more reactive and call proper authorities and such? YOU ARE SIMPLY USING THIS TRAGIC EVENT TO INFER THAT ALL ACTS OF IRRALTIONALITY ARE ABNORMALITIES. You are all too hooked up on the issue of faith versus reason, without spotting the mechanics of social interaction. Humans do not act reasonably (at least not always!); we are not an animal that merely uses reason for our decision-making. I really thought readers of this blog would know a tad about the writings of Steven Rose, Pat Churchland, Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman or Scott Atran. And please, the doing away of religion would not do away with human social irrationality, poverty and undereducation, so do try another angle.

    (Excuse my English, I live in Sweden)

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted August 2, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      I understand the point about the Wisconsin-death, but in all honesty, if the father of Madeline Kara Neumann were to be an atheist, why would any one surmise that he would suddenly become smarter and more thoughtful and more reactive and call proper authorities and such?

      Because then he would not have his faith and his religion to lead him to torture his daughter. It IS that simple. Your arguments are specious, Robert Stasinski.

    • Jason A.
      Posted August 3, 2009 at 4:20 am | Permalink

      “if the father of Madeline Kara Neumann were to be an atheist, why would any one surmise that he would suddenly become smarter and more thoughtful and more reactive and call proper authorities and such?”

      He wouldn’t get any smarter, but what would be different is he wouldn’t have a book and a support group of people who tell him his invisible friend would magically cure his daughter without medical intervention. He recognized his daughter was in trouble, it’s just he thought prayer was a valid alternative to the hospital. The reason being he had faith.
      Without faith, even the stupid father would have taken his daughter to the hospital simply for lack of alternatives.

    • genecutter
      Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Speaking of “evidence”, Robert, we are still waiting for you to give an example of an atrocity comparable to Kara’s death due to non-belief. Why will you not respond? How about backing up your claim with some proof? Why do you insist on evidence from others while providing none yourself?

  17. Michael K Gray
    Posted August 2, 2009 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Religion is a lethal mind virus.
    The apologists here are carriers, akin to ‘Typhoid Mary’.
    Immunise your children as soon as possible by regular boosters of education.

    • J.J.E.
      Posted August 3, 2009 at 2:49 am | Permalink

      Nah, I disagree. Religion need not be lethal to be worthy of discarding. Sure, religion frequently is lethal, but even if most of it weren’t, it would still be worth getting rid of it, if for no other reason than to replace it with more productive modes of thought. Of course, the very fact that religion is so very often lethal only increases the urgency.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted August 3, 2009 at 3:43 am | Permalink

        Religion need not be lethal to be worthy of discarding.

        I agree with that. Just think about the trillions of dollars spent on building churches, synagogues and mosques. They are ubiquitous. Add to that the operating expenses of those buildings which, for the most part, sit unused for most of the week.

        What could be done if that money was used for something else? It probably would be enough money to feed everyone on the planet and supply health care for all. Just imagine that money used to help the world’s economy instead of sitting there in the Vatican, in Mecca and on half of every downtown corner in all cities and towns.

  18. Posted August 3, 2009 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    In regards to praying for medical miracles, I’ve always enjoyed “Why God Doesn’t Heal Amputees”.

  19. Norm
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I would re-caption the photo from:
    “Madeline Kara Neumann, killed by faith”.

    To:
    “Madeline Kara Neumann, killed by misplaced faith”.

    If I get seriously ill, I will seek the assistance of modern medical science, not because I’ve evaluated and fully understand every possible treatment, but to some extent because in my society, seeing a doctor is just what one does when one is sick. It’s party a faith-based decision.

    • J.J.E.
      Posted August 4, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      Right, because you haven’t talked to friends and family who have gone to doctors and experience a direct increase in their health as a result. And because those that study the science of medicine rationally can’t find rational explanations for why treatments would work as advertised. And because clinical trials reported in mainstream news are all lies and frauds.

      Yeah, given the dearth of experience that people have with medicine, the decision to go to a doctor is precisely the same as any other faith based action. There couldn’t possibly be a wealth of objective rational evidence for the efficacy of medicine. Yeah, it is a faith based decision.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted August 4, 2009 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        J.J.E. you needed to put “/sarcastic” in that post. It is so “Poe” that it looked like you meant that first paragraph literally.

  20. Posted August 5, 2009 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    Religion is evil. Someone told me the other day that when I said Islam is evil this was incorrect – it was how man has interpreted religion. Personally, I don’t believe in this separation of God and man. This is because God (which doesn’t exist) is a fiction of man, belief in which allows men to do evil things, such as killing your own daughter. Parents who do this to their children should get the death penalty.


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