Tag Archives: Jerry Coyne

Jerry Coyne on Faith Healing

Denying children vaccines just one part of the problem

Jerry Coyne at The Amazing Meeting 2013
Jerry Coyne at The Amazing Meeting 2013

But denying children potentially life-saving vaccines is just one part of the problem; I’d like to eliminate even more exemptions: those now enshrined in many laws permitting religious parents to withhold scientific medical care from their children in favor of faith healing.

Professor Jerry Coyne

A couple of days ago I discussed briefly Dr. Jerry Coyne’s new book Faith vs Fact. Yesterday he published an article in Slate, in which he made the statement above. I very strongly agree with it.

As you can guess from his picture, Coyne is an outspoken man. As a biologist, he is intimately familiar with both health and disease. He promotes vaccines to prevent diseases. He believes American children should be required to have their vaccines before starting to school, with no exception except for medical reasons. Personal philosophy or religion, he says, should not be an excuse for endangering the public health.

Jerry Coyne says it’s time to eliminate religious exemptions from medical care for children

Forty-eight states—all except West Virginia and Mississippi—allow religious exemptions from vaccination. (California would be the third exception if its bill becomes law.) A similar deference to religion applies to all medical care for children. As the National District Attorneys Association reports, 43 states give some kind of criminal or civil immunity to parents who injure their children by withholding medical care on religious grounds.

According to Coyne,

Some states allow religious exemptions from required testing of newborns for metabolic disorders, such as the inability to break down fats or amino acids, that can kill an untreated child but are perfectly treatable if caught early.

To illustrate his point, Dr. Coyne tells of a teenage girl who needed medical help for “fainting spells.” Her father refused to get her to a doctor, so she asked teachers for help. Apparently getting no help from her teachers either, she ran away from home; but she was found and returned to her father. Three days later she died from a ruptured appendix.

Many of the same states also allow exemptions from giving newborns hearing tests, eye drops to prevent blindness from herpes infections, testing children for lead levels in their blood, and even “learning about disease in school.”

In perhaps the most bizarre and potentially dangerous law, public school teachers in California can legally refuse to be tested for tuberculosis on religious grounds.

Christian scientists, Scientologists, faith healers, and little fundamentalist cults scattered all over the place are protected by these laws, while their children sometime die in agony. This is not right, and should not be permitted in any civilized country.

Infants and people who cannot have vaccinations because of medical reasons are put at risk by those who refuse to have them (or let their children have them) because of their superstitions, both religious and otherwise. Coyne discusses these problems at length in his new book.

Vaccinations should be required in all states; and children should be protected from parents who refuse them necessary medical treatment on ANY grounds and let them die or suffer from untreated cancer, diabetes, or other disease.

Parents do not own their children, and parental rights are not infinite. A parent may make his or her own decisions about healthcare, but he or she must not be permitted to make such decisions for a child and let the child suffer or die without effective medical treatment because of the parent’s religion or philosophy. Evening cases where a child himself refuses medical treatment for religious reasons, it must be remembered that a child cannot make mature decisions; and a court should determine whether or not the treatments continued. Religion or other superstitions should not be a factor.

See also Dr. Coyne’s recent article in The Scientist.

Source: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/42938/title/Opinion–Science—Religion–A-Centuries-old-War-Rages-On/http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2015/05/religious_exemptions_from_medical_care_faith_healing_kills_children.html

Jerry Coyne’s “Faith Vs. Fact” Out Today

Faith vs Fact by Jerry CoyneGod is an hypothesis, and, as such, stands in need of proof: the onus probandi [burden of proof] rests on the theist. —Percy Bysshe Shelley

Coyne, Jerry A. (2015-05-19). Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible . Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


I can’t personally speak about Jerry Coyne’s new book because I haven’t read it yet. After all, it just came out today. But I will. I already have it on my Kindle.

You’ll find it for sale through Amazon on page 4 of our bookstore. (See the menu at the top of any page.)

Coyne is a biologist and a Professor in the Biology Department of the University of Chicago. He co-wrote a widely used textbook on biology and a trade book Why Evolution Is True (also available in our bookstore).

I have read Why Evolution Is True, and I read his website of the same name almost daily. I look forward to the same vast knowledge and clarity of thought I am used to.

Below are a few comments about the man and his books by people whose names you may recognize.

Biologist Jerry Coyne
Jerry Coyne’s New Book in Bookstores Today

“Many people are confused about science—about what it is, how it is practiced, and why it is the most powerful method for understanding ourselves and the universe that our species has ever devised. In Faith vs. Fact, Coyne has written a wonderful primer on what it means to think scientifically, showing that the honest doubts of science are better—and more noble—than the false certainties of religion. This is a profound and lovely book. It should be required reading at every college on earth.”
—Sam Harris, author of  The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, and Waking Up

“The distinguished geneticist Jerry Coyne trains his formidable intellectual firepower on religious faith, and it’s hard to see how any reasonable person can resist the conclusions of his superbly argued book. Though religion will live on in the minds of the unlettered, in educated circles faith is entering its death throes. Symptomatic of its terminal desperation are the ‘apophatic’ pretensions of ‘sophisticated theologians,’ for whose empty obscurantism Coyne reserves his most devastating sallies. Read this book and recommend it to two friends.”
—Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion

“The truth is not always halfway between two extremes: some propositions are flat wrong. In this timely and important book, Jerry Coyne expertly exposes the incoherence of the increasingly popular belief that you can have it both ways: that God (or something God-ish, God-like, or God-oid) sort-of exists;  that miracles kind-of happen; and that the truthiness of dogma is somewhat-a-little-bit-more-or-less-who’s-to-say-it-isn’t like the truths of science and reason.”
—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University; author of The Better Angels of Our Nature

About Why Evolution Is True

“In this 200th anniversary year of Darwin’s birth, Why Evolution is True ranks among the best new titles flooding bookstores.”
Christian Science Monitor

Why Evolution is True is the book I was hoping would be written someday: an engaging and accessible account of one of the most important ideas ever conceived by mankind. The book is a stunning achievement, written by one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists. Coyne has produced a classic—whether you are an expert or novice in science, a friend or foe of evolutionary biology, reading Why Evolution is True is bound to be an enlightening experience.”
—Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish