You may have heard the unfortunate story. A health and wealth, prosperity, word of faith mega-church in Texas has been encouraging their members to decline vaccinations because of their aberrant word of faith theology. The result? A spike in measles infections.
Jerry Coyne then weighs in on the issue with an article titled “Measles back again, thanks to religion.” Perhaps I could excuse a title that ridiculous if it had been foisted on Coyne by a dull editor concerned only with crass sensationalism. But he seems to have chosen the title himself.
So let’s see. The pastor of a word of faith church in Texas endorses an anti-vax philosophy, thereby leading to a measles outbreak, and we conclude that “religion” is thereby culpable for the return of measles.
I said that is ridiculous. Just how ridiculous is it?
Well let’s put this in some perspective. Some people reject vaccinations out of concerns for personal liberty. Let’s say that one of those individuals has sufficient influence over a community and this leads to a measles outbreak. Should we conclude: “Measles back again, thanks to libertarianism”?
Hmm, this could be fun. Let’s apply Jerry Coyne’s logic more widely.
A historian writes a book of Holocaust denial which gains a following. Therefore, “Holocaust denial back again, thanks to history.”
A rocket scientist collaborates with North Korea to develop a more efficient nuclear bomb. Therefore, “The Cold War back again, thanks to science.”
Preteen girls everywhere become obese because they spend all day in their rooms listening to popular UK boy band “One Direction.” Therefore, “Childhood obesity back again, thanks to the United Kingdom.”
Atheists begin to blame “religion” for measles because of the ignorance of biologist Jerry Coyne. Therefore, “Village atheism back again, thanks to biology.”