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Thread: Misplaced faith can kill you

  1. #1

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: North of everything

    Misplaced faith can kill you

    For those of you who don't know me, I should mention before I go off on a lenghty rant that I'm quite a hard atheist. It's not just that I don't believe in gods, I actively deny there ever having been any. It's all just mythology. Read a book. Any book. No, not that one.

    Having said that, I generally accept people's various delusions about gods, and tolerate their beliefs, as long as it is not actively dangerous. What I'm about to say next is about when it becomes dangerous, and why.

    My wife was brough up in a faith called "Christian Science" ( Don't let the name fool you. It's a double misnomer. It's a weird cultish sect that's cherrypicking bible quotes to suit their agenda, with several books "explaining" how you're supposed to interpret it. Most major christian denominations do not accept them as proper christians. That, however, is not my main problem. The second word is "science". I'm a scientist. I know science. This is not it. This is as close to science as a dog turd can claim to be the sun. It has FUCK ALL to do with science. Mary Baker Eddy, the originator of "christian science", clearly had no idea what science is actually like. That is two fails already, just in the name. "Christian", not so much. "Science", definitely not, rather the exact opposite. Just using two words for their faith, both words are false.

    "Disease is a mental error rather than physical disorder, and that the sick should be treated not by medicine, but by a form of prayer that seeks to correct the beliefs responsible for the illusion of ill health." - Mary Baker Eddy.

    Most of my wife's family are of the faith. They're all very warm, kind, loving people. But, I'd argue, very misguided. Read the above quote. Then think about it. That is the essence of "christian science". Healing prayers will cure all ills, because they're not real, just an error of the mind.

    In 2014, my wife got the diagnosis of cancer. She shocked both me and the oncologist by saying she did not want medical treatment. This coming from the smartest person I've ever met, making a completely irrational statement. She wanted to try healing prayers. I knew at that moment that she was going to die. She had not really bothered with faith for as long as I'd known her, and maybe she didn't mention it because she knew I detested faith healer cons. But, most people, in a time of crisis, will return to whatever faith they grew up with. This is exactly what she did. She started reading all these CS texts, and going to lectures. I went to one with her, and it was the most insane fucking nonsense I've ever heard. This woman who gave the speech must have been on shrooms or something, or severely brain damaged at some point.

    Nevermind. Over the next year, my wife kept going to these lectures, but I could not stomach another one, it was all too crazy. After about 10 months I had a drunken night, a moment of desperation because I knew she would die, and had a breakdown. Seeing the state of me, she eventually decided to go on chemotherapy. Her first treatment was just over a year after the diagnosis. Any doctor or nurse will tell you that when it comes to cancer, you have to get treatment as soon as humanly possible. Because of my wife's misplaced beliefs, it took her over a year. Maybe she'd still die if she'd had treatment sooner, but at least we'd have had another 3, 5, maybe even 10 years, before it spread to her spine and brain. Maybe early treatment would even have stopped it, I don't know, but what I do know for certain is that we would have had more time together.
    So yes, I completely blame "christian science" for her premature death. This much is certain.

    But there's more:
    My next point is less certain, purely based on my assumptions. I'll start with the facts: In Scotland, women are called in for mammography scans every three years. She had one in 2008 and it showed no signs of cancer. She had lumps but was told they were benign. In 2011 she was supposed to have another scan, but she was visiting me in Sweden at the time and could not make the appointment. She never bothered to reschedule another scan. Here is where my assumption comes in: I think she didn't bother get another date because of her state of mind, the whole Christian Science school of positive thinking. In her mind, I'm assuming, it wasn't a problem, and even if it later turned out to be one, it could quite easily be changed by healing prayers, so, no worries. If she would have had that scan, maybe they would have found that the lumps were no longer benign, and treatment would start as early as that, and that might have been the end of it. Instead, her first treatment was in 2015, with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, eventually a double mastectomy, a few months of being fairly ok, then more chemo and eventual slow death.

    So yes, I have a very clear case for blaming Christian Science for delaying her treatment for one year. I have less of a clear case blaming it for her ignoring the scans which could have saved her life much earlier, but it seems very plausible to me.

    My point is this:
    Please, please, do NOT let some religious beliefs prevent your loved ones seeking real actual medical treatment. It can literally be the difference between life and death. I don't care what your beliefs are, pray to whatever made-up mythological creature you like, just don't be insane about it. Don't gamble with your health, or that of your children. Tell them now to trust in doctors and medical science, not bullshit prayers, or you might have to watch them die a slow and painful death. Forget that I'm an atheist, I don't care if you spread some other misguided faith to your children, just not one that might eventually kill them. If your child was taught this nonsense, and denied lifesaving medical treatment, how would you feel?

    My wife died in May 2018. Fuck you, christian science.

  2. #2
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Sorry about your wife, my condolences

  3. #3
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    That's heartbreaking and the anger is understandable.
    There's a song I remember that captures it, Josh Ritter's "Girl in the War":

    Lines like:
    Because the keys to the kingdom got lost inside the kingdom
    And the angels fly around in there, but we can’t see them
    I got a girl in the war, Paul, I know that they can hear me yell
    If they can’t find a way to help her, they can go to hell
    There are some other songs and a comic along these lines I've seen before too, but this is the first one that comes to me.

  4. #4
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Damn, Grey. I'm so sorry.

  5. #5
    Registered: Oct 2016
    Location: Appleton, WI
    I'm sorry for your loss. My condolences.

  6. #6
    Registered: Feb 2000
    Location: Portreath Cornwall UK
    You have the title of this thread spot on Gray, health and faith in your god should not go hand in hand.

    Sorry for your loss.

    Good to see you posting again.

  7. #7
    Registered: Oct 2017
    Location: Denmark
    Cases like these are beyond me... a 100 years ago? Sure... But today? With the amount of science and information about said science readily available? Fuck that...
    I am so sad and angry for you, I don't even know where to begin....
    I can give you a comment or two on the scan appointment theory you mentioned... I totally see your point, and I agree, it might very well have been a contributing factor... Certainly, believing that "healing prayers" will save you if anything IS wrong, does not help towards staying on top of your medical check, scans, vaccines, etc.... If you happened to be the complete opposite, i.e.. a person believing firmly in the beneficial attributes of modern science, importance of routine medical checks etc. with the exact purpose you also mention: finding shit like cancer as soon as possible and going all-out-war against it with everything the 20th century science has to offer - things might very well have looked different.
    That said... people miss these things all the time, their hectic lives and, sometimes illogical, prioritization (because "hey I currently feel fine") etc., prevent them from rescheduling that appointment or getting that extra check-up.

    13 years ago my father had an epileptic attack, I was there, holding him as he bit his tongue, bleeding from his mouth in cramps... It was one of the most terrifying and scary things I've even experienced.
    My father was a farmer, believed in hard and honest work, got up every morning to tend to his crops and livestock, and never missed a day.
    He never did pay much attention to medical checks, and while you could say he was traditional, old school and Christian, he never payed much attention to the church either... Both of those things changed that night.
    MR scans revealed the attack was caused by a tumour in his brain, one that had probably been there since his twenties, but had now grown big enough to apply enough pressure to his brain as to cause the attack.
    From that day on, his and our lives changed.... He got rid of his livestock, rented out his land, got a part time job as a school janitor and now routinely visited both the church and various hospitals.
    He joined the church council, and has had his brain operated twice, as well as blasted with chemo when the tumour eventually evolved into cancer. He's still here with us, and I'm thankful every day for the science and religion that helped him, and us, get here. I'm also here to tell you that if you keep a healthy attitude towards both sides, they CAN go hand in hand.

    I'm terribly sorry your wife happened to fall under the influence of one of the (sadly many) unhealthy offspring that exist on both sides, and the outcome it ended up having... As your title indicates, its not the faith but the placement of said faith that is to blame. My deepest condolences.
    Last edited by Tommyph1208; 11th Jun 2018 at 05:57.

  8. #8
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    My condolences.

  9. #9
    Registered: Sep 2005
    Location: Not Kansas
    I am so very sorry to hear of your wife's passing, Gray. Please accept my heartfelt condolences and sympathy.

  10. #10
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: above the clouds
    No idea what to say apart from that I agree with you although it probably isn't much comfort - I saw this after the post in the other thread. Talking about condolences doesn't seem enough, but I hope things get better over time. I know myself how long it takes to move past traumatic experiences.

  11. #11
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Grey, that is heartbreaking. Sorry for your loss.

  12. #12
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Gray - So sorry for your loss. Your story was so familiar to me, not personally, but through one of my better friends. He is in a family of diehard Chiropractors, and many of them believe in similar things - you don't need traditional medicine, you only need the Chiropractic way. It heals all. In their case, it didn't as two of my friends relatives were diagnosed with cancer in the past 5 years, declined regular treatment, and died within a few years of their diagnosis.

    Even to me, as a casual observer, it was so frustrating to hear all of this, and the fact that my friend could not talk them out of their stubbornness made it even more so. The crazy thing is, the other family members will still stick to their guns and refuse any kind of traditional treatment in the future. It feels like they're a member of a cult, it just seems so pointless. Especially when there's no reason to not use both methods at the same time - anything to improve your chances. I can tell you, it's probably misguided, but I'm soured on chiropractic treatment to the end of time.

  13. #13
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    I used to think religions were a lot more benign. Now I think they are a form of psychosis built into the fabric of society. I've seen them give a measure of comfort to those who believe and indeed without them there is only the cold comfort of fact. All the more sad to have to face the cruelty of fact not only without that prop but knowing that prop caused the damage. It's a brave thing to stand without a prop but it's not an easy thing. Your fellows have to be your comfort and we are a poor substitute. Particularly when we can't even buy you a drink.

    All I can do is offer the advice of going out often into that world where there are all kinds of people. Some of them restore your faith in goodness if not religion. I'm glad you got to know one of them so well. I hope you find another.
    Last edited by Tocky; 12th Jun 2018 at 20:12.

  14. #14
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Spinning off the karmic wheel
    Gray - I lost my mother in 2012 to breast cancer. She was also a member of the Christian Science church. She had a particularly slow moving case of cancer, and as I found out later, knew for several years that something serious was wrong. She also tried to heal through prayer, using Christian Science "practitioners". Later, as the cancer spread to her arm (which ate through the bone, causing her to break it when she leaned up against a wall) and then her hip socket, causing her to break her hip when she tried to get out of bed to go to the bathroom, then, and only then, did she elect to attempt medical treatment. About 16 months later she was dead. She was 68, so it wasn't quite a tragedy on the same order as your wife. Having to tell my young children that Grandma had died was hard.

    Here's the thing. I actually was a bit disappointed that she didn't stick to her guns. I mean, if she was going to ultimately go through treatment, why wait until it's too late? Have convictions, stick to them. Now, I should clarify. I myself am not a Christian Scientist. Or a Christian. As a child, I attended their Sunday schools, right up until I was 11 or 12 and they told my mom I was no longer welcome unless I could stop asking so many questions, and instead just submit to the indoctrination. So I was not disappointed that she broke with the faith. I was disappointed that she, for lack of a better word, did not have the courage of her convictions. Her whole life, it was a big part of who she was, and then she abandoned it. I did not want her to die. By the time of her diagnosis, she was Stage 4 and terminal. If she were going to abandon it, the time to do so was several years earlier when there was a fucking chance. By that late stage, abandoning it was pointless. So it was a weird, sad, and angry time for me. As I imagine it very much was for you.

    Anyway, as a result of her accepting medical treatment, she was no longer welcome to her former church, and so spent the last year of her life without even the comfort of the faith that had always defined her.

    So yes, fuck them.

    My deep condolences to you on the loss of your wife.

  15. #15
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Location: Dromed Detention Room
    Quote Originally Posted by Shoshin View Post
    As a child, I attended their Sunday schools, right up until I was 11 or 12 and they told my mom I was no longer welcome unless I could stop asking so many questions, and instead just submit to the indoctrination.
    Troubling indicator right there.......

  16. #16
    Registered: May 2005
    Location: Full on Kevel's mom
    I am so very sorry for your loss.

  17. #17
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: The Land of Make Believe
    I'm desperately sorry to hear about your wife, Gray. I can only imagine what it must feel like, not just to lose a partner, but to lose them in such a fashion.

    I view religious faith itself as a kind of cancer, a cancer on humanity. You should be proud that she at least managed to overcome that. It's not much consolation, I know, but it must have been difficult for her to abandon her faith and seek proper treatment.

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