Answers in Genesis Writer Defends Chemotherapy Only to Face Criticism from Faithful Followers

I sometimes browse the Answers in Genesis Facebook page.

Aside from providing comic relief to an otherwise boring day, it answers all of my most pressing questions:

  • “What artifacts in the British Museum affirm the Bible’s history?” (Link)
  • “Caffeine: convergently evolved or creatively provided?” (Link)
  • “What do Putin, ISIS, and the modern sexual revolution have in common?” (Link)

It also tackles the important issues of our day, like why Halloween is evil, and what the Bible really meant when it mentioned unicorns.

And then I see things like this, originally published last July, but reshared yesterday: “Cancer — Does Taking Chemotherapy Display a Lack of Faith?” And it’s not so funny any more.

Now, in AiG’s defense (ugh… there’s an unsettling phrase), author Tim Chaffey — himself a former cancer patient — concludes that:

… Chemotherapy may not be the best solution in every case, but it may sometimes be just what God has arranged as a cure. So please take care not to increase a suffering person’s burden with unsolicited advice.

Hopefully, you never face the decision to undergo chemo for cancer. But if you do, don’t discount your doctor’s expertise. Inform yourself on all sides of the issue, seek the guidance of the Great Physician, and make a wise decision with your family and doctor (Proverbs 11:14).

Certainly not all of AiG’s readers agreed, with many telling Chaffey today that he was in fact violating the dictates of the Holy Spirit by seeking the medical treatment that saved his life.

But consider the import of this for a moment: Chaffey had to defend as Biblically-sound accepting medical treatment rather than dying of cancer. Consider that he took enough heat for choosing chemotherapy over death to prompt writing an article to defend the decision. Let that sink in. Then consider that there are commenters who decided, despite his reasons, to tell him that he had done the wrong thing. Because — surprise, surprise — they’ve “got a book,” too. And according to how they interpret it, he lacks faith in God for choosing treatment over death.

Atheists sometimes take flak for pointing out the horrors of religious extremism, but it’s only right to note that when even someone at Answers in Genesis says you’ve gone too far, you’ve really gone too far. Outside of women’s reproductive care, it is not, in this day and age, a mainstream Christian tenet to hate medicine. But extreme fundamentalism and reality denial is the ideal breeding grounds for further fanaticism.

When someone encourages his flock to dismiss science as it relates to one topic, it shouldn’t come as a shock to to find the same folks also dismissing science in other fields. And while I give Answers in Genesis props for fighting this particular brand of Bible-based science denial, it’s unfortunate that they don’t recognize that the problem is Bible-based science denial in general. It’s not just one particularly insane belief floating around; it’s all the faulty beliefs that can spring up due to one particular interpretation of the book.

That said, there is a richness to the irony of an organization that exists to distort and deny science by washing it through a filter of fundamentalist religiosity… being criticized by its followers for not distorting and denying science quite enough.

About Rachel Ford

Rachel Ford is a programmer, and since 8:00 to 5:00 doesn't provide enough opportunity to bask in screen glare, she writes in her spare time. She was raised a very fundamentalist Christian, but eventually "saw the light." Rachel's personal blog is Rachel's Hobbit Hole, where she discusses everything from Tolkien to state politics.