April 3, 2020
This is not an anti-religion rant, it is not an attempt to sway the beliefs of readers. It is a commentary on the promises of humans being made in the name of belief and against the backdrop of accepted science. It is also an attempt to keep readers safe from the ravages of life in the form of a virus.
If you don’t read all of the news, you may not be aware that those seeking the safety and comfort of their religious community are in fact doing some of the largest harm to those same religious communities and the larger communities.
Please don’t believe your book of worship (Bible, Koran, Torah) or any sort of advice derived from them on how to prevent or overcome COVID-19. The information in these books was written at least 500 years ago based on texts that are at least 1,200 years old. There are plenty of lessons in them worth learning, but there is NOTHING about viruses. (Viruses were first theorized in the late 1800’s and first seen visually in 1931)
Let me explain further by reviewing some pertinent information about the spread of the COVID-19. Some of the largest outbreaks in the world have started in and been propagated from religious gatherings. These gatherings, often large, often full of people interested in close physical contact (shaking of hands, hugs, sharing of sacraments), have fueled some of the earliest and most difficult to contain outbreaks.
In South Korea, ‘Patient 31’ attended church services a number of times while infected. The actions of this one patient resulted in 4,363 members of her church being infected. In all she is thought to have directly infected 5,016 people and was the cause of almost all other infections.
” … the next day, health authorities announced she was the country’s 31st confirmed case. In only a matter of days, those numbers had soared as hundreds of people at the Shincheonji Church and surrounding areas tested positive.”
One of the deadliest outbreaks in France has been traced to hundreds gathered at the Christian Open Door church in Mulhouse. Around 2,500 confirmed cases have been linked to the gathering.
“Around 2,500 confirmed cases have been linked to it. Worshippers at the church have unwittingly taken the disease caused by the virus home to the West African state of Burkina Faso, to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, to Guyana in Latin America, to Switzerland, to a French nuclear power plant and into the workshops of one of Europe’s biggest automakers.”
Many parts of the world have faith communities that are far engrained in culture, through history, myth, even politics. The middle east has plenty of examples. One community is the Orthodox Jews.
“Medical experts estimate that as many as 38% of Bnai Brak’s 200,000 residents are infected with coronavirus and that the town could soon account for as many as 30% of cases in Israel …
Many residents [of Bnai Brak] are poor and some have heeded rabbis who, distrusting the state, spurned anti-virus measures.”
Of course there are likely similar stories in the Muslim kingdoms as well, but many of those societies are notoriously censured and data may be difficult to get or inaccurate. What is clear however is that many kingdoms are now cancelling religious festivities because the science is good and they want to protect their people.
The USA is one of the outliers in the battle against COVID-19 The President said this on February 27th:
“It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear. “
As of today based on the testing that has been done, the US is one of the worst hit countries in the world and that is before the outbreak has reached much of the country.
This ‘belief’ that the virus will just go away has led to various religious leaders putting their congregations and their entire communities at risk.
- Rev. Tony Spell of the Life Tabernacle Church in the city of Central, LA
“Instead of showing the strength and resilience of our community during this difficult time, Mr. Spell has chosen to embarrass us for his own self-promotion,” “I’ve heard from God, and I will continue to do what I am doing,” Spell said.
The pastor is making an argument for religious freedom, but ignoring what officials are saying is a broader objective, public safety.
The church’s senior pastor is now hospitalized with the virus and at least 71 of the church’s 3,000 members have contracted COVID-19 according to the LA Times.
There are likely other incidents which have yet to hit the media, or the outbreaks are still so early and resources so restricted that the stories have not yet surfaced.
It is just as important to note that these are specific cases, and there may be hundreds of other worship services where NOBODY contracted or spread the virus. This is not evidence of God or some sort of protection. It is evidence that the virus has not reached your particular community yet.
The risk is that as the virus spreads through societies, the probability of infecting a large group goes up exponentially (that means that a 1% chance today would be a 10% chance a short time later and a 100% chance a short time again after that). Smaller groups make the risk much smaller. Individuals make the risk zero.
The whole flattening of the curve concept is to increase the the time between those two measurements from ‘a short time’ to ‘a long time’.
If you are reading this and think that God will intervene, the evidence suggests otherwise. The chart below shows the world-wide growth in confirmed cases, but on a country by country basis, there is no significant difference between countries with deep religious beliefs (i.e. Italy) and those who are less so (i.e. China).
The key differentiator is the government/public response. China, one of the most populated countries in the world saw it’s case rate drop to almost zero when isolation was imposed. Imposing isolation in ‘free’ countries like the USA and Sweden is difficult to do. It must be a choice. It is also difficult in European countries such as Italy, but they have adopted isolation and it is beginning to significantly slow the virus’ progress.
This post isn’t to subvert anyone’s belief in a higher power, but with science there is PROOF of what the benefits are. The science on viruses in general is very good. The scientific inquiry surrounding the COVID-19 virus is speeding up by the day. Paying attention to the science TODAY will improve your your odds of living, the odds for the most at risk in your community and perhaps many thousands of others on the planet.
If you believe in a God, or want to pray for your soul or the souls of those around you, please do so in privacy or perhaps a video chat session. ISOLATION REMAINS THE ONLY KNOWN METHOD OF STOPPING THE COVID-19 VIRUS.
[P.S. If you would like to follow my more arcane posts about the economy, management, investment, you can find them here: https://unusualviews.com/]
3 thoughts on “Death and God”
Thank you for such a clear, concise and accurate statement of the issue. I hope it’s ok if I share the post.
Alan Rogin, MD
Hi Alan, thank you (again) for the kind words. Please feel free to share my posts!
Stay Home Stay safe it may’ve your life.