Science and Religion: An Ongoing Debate

Science and Religion: An Ongoing Debate
In June 2014, Judge William F. Kuntz, a New York City district judge ruled to uphold a policy that prevents unvaccinated children from going to school when another child has a disease that is preventable by vaccination. Three families have filed lawsuits against this school policy stating that it is a violation of their personal religious freedoms. I believe the areas of religion and science come into conflict with each other often because they are both highly contested and highly controversial issues. I believe that Judge William F. Kuntz is correct in upholding this policy. Judge Kuntz is taking a public health viewpoint that is both rational and effective. Freedom of religion or freedom of belief can be described as a right to practice ones beliefs and practices as an individual or in a community. Religious freedom is a significant right that individuals should rightfully possess and everyone should hold this right. But to a certain extent, religious freedom does not take precedent over public health issues.
In this Huffington Post news article it is stated that a few individuals who are against this health policy state that they do not want their children vaccinated on the grounds of “sincere religious belief”. These individuals that do not want to vaccinate their children because of a sincere religious belief are not considering the safety of their children and ultimately, the safety of the entire community around them. I believe that every individual has a right to practice their religion and their religious beliefs. But when it comes to public health, it is significant to consider that public health concerns go beyond religious beliefs and practices. When it comes to matters of public health, it has the ability to effect many people and groups and goes beyond just the individual and their own beliefs. The greater society must be considered and the safety of the community must be upheld.
An individual by the last name Check had stated in the New York Times that her opposition to vaccinations came from a religious revelation that occurred during her tough pregnancy. Check is quoted as saying “The devil is germs and disease, which is cancer and any of those things that can take you down,” she said. “But if you trust in the Lord, these things cannot come near you.” I believe this statement illustrates an extreme side of religious beliefs. Completely disregarding scientific evidence that vaccinations and medicine help prevent diseases on the grounds of religion is incredibly irrational. A strong belief in a higher power does not grant you immunity from diseases and sickness. I believe that this article from Huffington Post illustrates that controversial issues of science and religion and how they often intersect and ultimately conflict with each other. New York City district Judge, William F. Kuntz was entirely justified in upholding this policy. This article also illustrates how public health concerns often take precedence over religion, and rightfully so.

One thought on “Science and Religion: An Ongoing Debate

  1. This seems to be less about whether religion and science can co-exist but instead whether positive thinking and mental discipline can have an effect on the brain and the body, which I think the answer to which is obvious. Religion can mean a lot of things, if a religion like Buddhism advocates healthy lifestyles and dedicated to self-improvement, then surely it has a place to be considered beneficial (and measurable scientifically). If religion on the other hand promotes self-mutilation, extreme self-denial of food etc., violent conduct then I’m sure it’s medical value would be highly questionable. Religion as science can co-exist, but only to the extent that religious practise operates within scientific laws. If it strays, or worse, attempts to supersede scientific understanding, then it, as they say, has gotta go. Because you know, it’s based on absolutely nothing.

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