November 5, 2007

A reincarnation of Vishnu...

... but "she cannot live like this."

Religion and science can coexist.

36 comments:

Doyle said...

Yes they can coexist, but is that really confirmed by an Indian girl being born with eight limbs?

As a follow-up, don't you realize how spacey that sounds?

Ann Althouse said...

My point is that people who can think of that birth defect as a religious miracle still want the operation to save her life. They could have simply worshipped the child until she died and seen all of that as a wonderful thing. I'm noting that they maintained their religious view of it without depriving the child of the benefits of science. It's not either/or.

Doyle said...

The parents call the girl a miracle but it's not clear they actually think she's the reincarnation of Vishnu.

I think lots of relatively secular Americans would call an 8-limbed child surviving a "miracle."

You don't get the impression from the story that anyone was considering "worhipp[ing] the child until she died."

Ann Althouse said...

What is it that you think I'm saying that you object to? I'm saying that religion and science are coexisting well here. You seem to think I'm criticizing them. The article says that they viewed the child as a reincarnation of Vishnu and they still want the operation. What is your problem? That I am referring to other people in other times and places who would have avoided medical treatment and sent the child about to be worshipped?

Doyle said...

Just trying to get a handle on what you're talking about. You expect people to glean your point from fortune-cookie length commentary?

You're right that the mother did call the daughter a "reincarnation."

But yes it is weird that you would expect the family to let the child die, or think it would be a tough call.

Trooper York said...

Before I was born, late one night, my papa said everything's alright
The doctor paid, mama laid down, with a semitone bouncing all around
Cause the beebop stork was about to arrive
Mama gave birth to the four hand-jive

I could barely walk when I looked in town, when I was three, I pushed the fly
While jumping would I move my four legs, and I saw the dance while I gathered A's
Bowed and clapped, I was only five
And I danced 'em all, he's born to
four hand-jive

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah - everybody

Born to four hand-jive, baby, born to four hand-jive, baby - yeah

How low can you go, how low can you go, how low can you go, how low can you go

Higher, higher, higher and higher
Now can you four hand-jive, baby, oh can you four hand-jive, baby
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, born to four hand-jive, oh yeah!
(Grease)

peter hoh said...

Doyle, sometimes an observation is just an observation. Sometimes, conjecture is just conjecture.

rhhardin said...

Another miracle

Who can understand why two lovers who idolised one another the night before, because of one word misinterpreted, split up, eastward one, west the other, goaded by hate, revenge, love and remorse, and never see each other again, both cloaked in lonely pride. This is a miracle renewed every day and is none the less miraculous for that.

- Lautreamont

Doyle said...

Peter -

Would you have known what Ann was talking about if I hadn't asked? I mean even on an observational level?

Victor said...

Another idiotic article about wacky stuff going on in India.

Glad you guys are viewing it with the appropriate level of skepticism.

rhhardin said...

I knew what she was talking about.

Jennifer said...

I knew what she was talking about. The entire text of the post is a quote from the mother invoking religion but yielding to science. The article itself gives no indication the mother feels any conflict about the two. In other words, they coexist. It's all pretty clear.

rhhardin said...

Of course, she's a woman, so she likes the complexity right off the bat.

A guy has to reason his way to noncontradiction by going through it.

Ann Althouse said...

Man, doyle can't circumnavigate concision.

Doyle said...

The mother wasn't "yielding" to science. She wasn't thinking "Boy this is really cool we should set up a shrine or something... but no, surgery is probably best."

That you may be on Ann's wavelength doesn't make it any less silly.

Doyle said...

Besides, to the extent the family took seriously the Vishnu ressemblance, this is a story of science trumping religion not coexisting, right?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Would you have known what Ann was talking about if I hadn't asked? I mean even on an observational level?

Yes, because I read the entire article and saw that they considered the child to be a literal representation of one of their God's yet decided that modern science could and should save her life by changing her form from "godlike" to normal.

AllenS said...

Doyle said...
The mother wasn't "yielding" to science.

From the article:

"Without the operation the little girl would never be able to walk or crawl and would be unlikely to live past her early teens, doctors said."

Doyle, you suffer from reflexive contrariness.

Chip Ahoy said...

These stories bother me a lot because my impulse is, "KILL IT!" and that conflicts with my natural spiritual gentleness. It is interesting, the apparent absence of conflict between the mother accepting her child as a miraculous reincarnation of deity and a colossal cosmic error that must be painfully and expensively and scientifically corrected in order to live.

This, on the heals of the story of the twin who simply would not be aborted.

Doyle said...

Allens -

I wasn't arguing that the surgery wasn't necessary, I was arguing that the surgery was obviously necessary and it doesn't appear that the parents ever entertained the idea of not having it done (as would be necessary for them to "yield" to it).

class-factotum said...

This, on the heals of the story of the twin who simply would not be aborted.

Great pun, intended or otherwise.

peter hoh said...

Doyle wrote: Would you have known what Ann was talking about if I hadn't asked? I mean even on an observational level?

I don't pretend to read Ann's mind, but I got the general sense from her comment that here was an interesting story that had a religion and science angle, and I followed the link. I don't regard Ann's comment to be a definitive statement on matters regarding faith and science. It's an observation, not a declaration of principle. I still don't think it's a great starting point for a debate, significant or otherwise.

Doyle said...


I don't pretend to read Ann's mind, but I got the general sense from her comment that here was an interesting story that had a religion and science angle, and I followed the link.


Sounds like a "No" to me!

Revenant said...

Would you have known what Ann was talking about if I hadn't asked?

It was obvious what she was referring to, so yes:

(1): Deformed child is born
(2): The deformities are taken to be evidence of a religious miracle, BUT
(3): Those so believing are still willing to sacrifice the "miraculous" defects to save the child's life.

Presto, religion and science co-existing.

The only reason you were confused is because you read Ann's posts solely to find material to attack her with. This often causes you to find "problems" in them that don't occur to normal people.

John said...

Althouse coddles and grooms her trolls. She is asked interesting questions all the time, yet she answers a select few. Somehow, Doyle makes the grade.

Smilin' Jack said...

I'm saying that religion and science are coexisting well here.

Yes, it's truly heartwarming. Forget the heavens, nothing declares the glory of God like a truly freaky birth defect. Let's hope that, having inspired all of us with this example of God's beneficence, this girl can go on to a semi-normal life with only minor impairments. Praise the Lord!

Pogo said...

It's beautiful and sad at the same time. Amazing and awful, religious and medical, sacred and horrifying.

One can mock it or, like the mother, love a daughter with a meaningful anomaly. There's no reason it can't be both spiritual and ridiculous.

GeorgeH said...

What they are removing (killing) is a parasitical twin that is cojoined and happens to lack a head. Since some claim that children born with no brain or other disastrous defect are living humans with souls, is not this twin a separate living person that is being murdered?

Cojoined partial twins, chimera etc make interesting theological questions.

A chimera is one being that began as two separate fertilized eggs and fused into one apparently normal being. Does it have two souls? Does it have to be baptized twice?

Meade said...

"...is not this twin a separate living person that is being murdered?"

"Separate?" Obviously not yet.
"Person?" Without brain wave activity? I don't think so.
"Murdered?" You're kidding, right?

"Since some claim that children born with no brain or other disastrous defect are living humans with souls..."

Who claims that? And how does a human being live without a brain? Whoever it is, I don't think their religion can coexist with our science.

Revenant said...

Since some claim that children born with no brain or other disastrous defect are living humans with souls

Really? Who claims that children born without brains still have souls?

Gedaliya said...

Really? Who claims that children born without brains still have souls?

No one is born without a brain.

What are you talking about?

Simon Kenton said...

It's called anencephaly; it may be the result of B-vitamin deficiency. Children born with it rarely live more than a few days - long enough to break their parents' hearts. Sometimes they have faces, and behind that a dished-in skull where the brain never developed. Not common; happens.

Jennifer said...

Anencephaly is the absence of most but not all of the brain.

Revenant said...

Anencephaly.

Warning: extremely depressing. It is hard to think of a more horrible thing for expectant parents to experience.

amba said...

Man, doyle can't circumnavigate concision.

Now you'll get him going on circumcison.

amba said...

The little girl is very beautiful. That's what jumps out -- her beautiful, untroubled face.