I came across two reports of cancer this weekend and how the separate victims deal with it; one filled with inspiration and hope, the other an indictment on religious ignorance.
I know it’s not nice to criticize cancer victims, because the probability of being stricken myself, by this nasty malady is pretty high, but I believe it’s important to expose the ignorance emanating from religion which surrounds this, and other ailments. It’s also important that sufferers learn to deal with the reality of their situation, and not succumb to false hope, usually imparted by supernatural or superstitious belief systems.
Tammie Cohrs a cancer patient, of South Carolina in the USA believes that prayer helped her through a recent MRI scan, and that she received proof of this when the figure of Jesus showed up on her image results. Tammie is going to be mighty disappointed when she eventually finds out that Jesus’s power is limited to showing up on scanned images, and does not extend to eradicating any ailments the scanned image points to. While Cohrs commented that she does not care about what anybody else thinks, she is clearly trying to influence people to believe in the supernatural, through the very act of announcing her peculiar find.
Christopher Hitchens, author of the bestselling book, God Is Not Great contracted a cancer of the esophagus a little while ago, which by his own accounts is spreading to other parts of his body. While the news generally brought good wishes from friends, and offers of prayers from good-hearted theists, it was not surprising that others in the religious fraternity took this opportunity to gloat, as described by Hitchens himself in this Vanity Fair article:
Who else feels Christopher Hitchens getting terminal throat cancer [sic] was God’s revenge for him using his voice to blaspheme him? Atheists like to ignore FACTS. They like to act like everything is a “coincidence”. Really? It’s just a “coincidence” [that] out of any part of his body, Christopher Hitchens got cancer in the one part of his body he used for blasphemy? Yea, keep believing that Atheists. He’s going to writhe in agony and pain and wither away to nothing and then die a horrible agonizing death, and THEN comes the real fun, when he’s sent to HELLFIRE forever to be tortured and set afire.
However, Hitchens has stood up well to his detractors and continues being inspirational in the face of the spreading disease. In the most recent article about his condition in Vanity Fair, he describes how he has tried various scientific remedies, and goes on to relate his utter disgust at a legal block being enforced by religious supporters of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, who prohibit any federal spending in promising stem cell research.
Once again, religious ignorance rears its ugly head; this time to frustrate scientific endeavours to find cures for the dreaded cancer and possibly other diseases too. Hitchens, in his usually erudite style does not mince his words when commenting about the use of non-sentient human embryos:
But now religious maniacs strive to forbid even their use, which would help what the same maniacs regard as the unformed embryo’s fellow humans! The politicized sponsors of this pseudo-scientific nonsense should be ashamed to live, let alone die. If you want to take part in the “war” against cancer, and other terrible maladies too, then join the battle against their lethal stupidity.
Hitchens acknowledges that he may die before any cure can be found, but he is willing to contribute personally (even financially) in any research that will contribute to “enlarging the knowledge that will help future generations.” And so, encouraged by these words from Horace Mann, Hitchens endeavours to trudge on with the chemo routine, augmented if it proves worthwhile by radiation and perhaps the much-discussed CyberKnife for a surgical intervention…
Until you have done something for humanity, you should be ashamed to die.