Thursday, November 25, 2004

Rabies cure and the power of prayer

New York Times reports the first-ever cure of full blown rabies. A teenage girl who had the disease was put in an induced coma and given a cocktail of anti-viral drugs. Medical progress continues. At the end of the article are these two paragraphs about the girl's father:

Her father, John Giese, said he was grateful to the doctors and their novel treatment, but added that prayer had made the crucial difference.

"The day after we found out, I called on everyone we knew for prayer," he told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week. "We believe a lot of that snowballed and it really made a difference."

I expect the thousands of people who die every year from rabies also have many people praying for them.

I'm agnostic but can understand how people have a religious sense of the universe, or believe that the God had to start it all. What I have trouble with is the idea that God actively intervenes in miraculously picking winners and losers . What kind of God would save this girl's life and ignore even more tragic circumstances elsewhere? Even if you ignore the obvious possibility that the world is what it is, without active miracles, the theological implications of a God who picks and chooses is terribly disturbing, especially when those of us who are more fortunate adopt that viewpoint.

I guess this is an unusual Thanksgiving Day post. But I am thankful for everything that's good in the world, and for the efforts by everyone who try to make the world better. If there's something to spiritual beliefs, I'm agnostic about it, but would be thankful if that turns out to be correct. I'll bend my agnosticism to believe that a beneficial spiritual presence doesn't pick winners or losers.

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