Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Two down, seven to go

My apologies for the title, because this is not funny:
Herbert and Catherine Schaible are being sentenced Wednesday in the death last year of their 8-month-old son, Brandon. At the time, they were under court orders to seek medical care for their children after their 2-year-old son, Kent, died of untreated pneumonia in 2009.

The Schaibles are third-generation members of a small Pentecostal community, the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia. ...

"We believe in divine healing, that Jesus shed blood for our healing and that he died on the cross to break the devil's power," Herbert Schaible said in a 2013 police statement. Medicine, he said, "is against our religious beliefs."

A jury had convicted both parents of involuntary manslaughter in Kent's death, and they were put on 10 years of probation that included orders to seek medical care if any other child got sick. ...

Their pastor, Nelson Clark, has said the Schaibles lost their sons because of a "spiritual lack" in their lives and insisted they would not seek medical care even if another child appeared near death.

The problem here is faith-based thinking. Oh, you may argue that you don't believe anything this crazy, that your faith wouldn't cause you to fly passenger planes into buildings or let your children die of easily-treated diseases.

But if you believe by faith, how can you argue that you're right and someone else's faith is wrong?  These people have already let two of their nine children die. Are you really going to claim that their faith isn't as strong as yours?

Evidence-based people can demonstrate why they're right. That's why scientists come to a consensus about what's true and what isn't. Indeed, that's why we have effective medical care in the first place. If we still believed by faith, children would still die like this in every family.

Evidence-based people can build on knowledge which has been demonstrated to be true, thus science advances. Thus medical care advances. Evidence-based people come to a consensus on what's true and what isn't. Meanwhile, faith-based people believe whatever they want (almost always based on whatever they were taught as children). That's why religions can't come to a consensus.

If you believe by faith - even if you believe in reasonable things - you're part of the problem. Faith is a vice, not a virtue. Faith is no way to determine the truth of anything.


Jim Harris said...

I know we argue over the use of the word faith, but now is not the time. The real question here is whether or not society has an obligation to take the kids away from this couple. I remember this issue was part of a TV drama show back in the 1950s. Are there limits on freedom of religion?

WCG said...

Of course. There are limits to all freedoms. (I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, Jim.)

We have freedom of speech, but you still can't falsely yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. There are still laws against slander and treason. You can't perjure yourself. And on and on.

We've got freedom of religion, but you can't keep slaves or murder witches, even when the Bible tells you to. You can't offer human sacrifices to your god, even if they're willing volunteers. And you can't deny your kids life-saving medical care, no matter what your religion might be.

Unfortunately, many states have bent over backward making exceptions for religious people. This has happened in other states, and parents get away with it (as they did here, when their first child died). Of course, these tend to be the same people who oppose birth control, so they often have huge families.

Note that these people were third generation religious nuts. And they're bringing up their own kids - the remaining seven, at least - the very same way they were raised themselves.

Jim Harris said...

This is also why many religious believers are anti-government. I believe most of the Tea Party philosophy is inspired by religious rebellion.