The Openness of God

I do not like the Calvinist view of God’s omnipotence and omniscience. To believe that God knows everything because He has predestined it all requires us to dismiss many accounts in the Bible (such as God changing His mind and not destroying Ninevah) as “anthropomorphisms,” even though there is no textual evidence to do so. Not only that, a God who would arbitrarily decide who will be saved from eternal damnation and who will not be saved is capricious and not worthy of worship. Thus, I have always discounted the Calvinist view of God as unbiblical and incoherent.

Nevertheless, I have also always had a problem with the idea that God might not know something about the future. As a result, I have reluctantly conformed to the “traditional evangelical” view of God. In this view, God exists outside of time. As a result, he sees the entire history and future of the universe as if He is looking at the film of a movie. Each “frame” is an instant in the lifetime of the universe, and God sees all “frames” at the same time. Like a film editor, he can adjust specific frames in order to make the “movie” just what He wants it to be. Those are the instants in which God interacts with His creation.

Open Theism offers an alternative to both views of God. Because of that, it is worth considering. A Christian whom I respect a great deal suggested that I read The Openness of God by Richard Rice, Clark Pinnock, John Sanders, William Hasker, and David Basinger. Because I respect her as a Christian, and because I think that Clark Pinnock is one of the greatest theologians/thinkers of our time, I decided to read the book, and I am glad that I did. While I was familiar with the concept of open theism, I had never read a thorough, systematic description of it. Instead, I had just read what those who thought it was “heresy” said about it. As is typical, those who think it is heresy paint it in the worst possible light. As a result, I didn’t really understand open theism until I read this book. If you really want to know what open theism is, don’t read the propaganda from the National Association of Evangelicals or other such outlets. Instead, read this book.

Continue reading “The Openness of God”

Myth of a Christian Nation

This book is filled with an enormous amount of insight and truth. It contains some nonsense as well, but overall, it is well worth the read. The author’s thesis is that it is IMPOSSIBLE for ANY nation to be a “Christian” nation, as worldly governments cannot possibly work the way the Kingdom of God works. Essentially, the author says, the Kingdom of God is simple – Love the Lord, and love others more than yourself. That’s it. No compromise. The Kingdom of the World, however, is exceedingly complex, with all sorts of compromises and tradeoffs. Because of that, you simply cannot say that ANY nation operates as a “Christian” nation. In addition, because the Kingdom of the World is so complex, Christians who use their Christianity to inform their politics can end up falling along all parts of the political spectrum. On these two points, the author is absolutely correct.

Continue reading “Myth of a Christian Nation”

What’s With the Name?

The Proslogion (English title: Discourse on the Existence of God) was written by Anselm of Canterbury in AD 1077-1078. It represented his finest attempt at presenting a rationale for his Christian faith. It is probably best known for laying down the ontological argument, which essentially states that since we can conceive of God, He must therefore exist. While typically only convincing to those who already believe, it has nevertheless fostered spirited philosophical debate throughout the centuries.

This Blog might represent my “Proslogion,” as it will be a discourse on my views regarding God and things of interest to the people of God. As a scientist, it is hard for me to fathom anyone who has scientific training and does not believe in God. The natural world, in my opinion, screams out His existence to anyone who examines it even in a cursory way. Indeed, it was science that brought me not only to a belief in God, but also to faith in Christianity. Unlike the Proslogion, however, I am not trying to convince you (the reader) of anything. I am simply hoping that you enjoy the discourse, and I hope to enjoy (and learn from) your comments.

Why I Think Vaccination is Very Important

Dr. Wile,

I applaud your courage and conviction, and am deeply thankful that you have publicly taken a stand to present the truth regarding vaccines. If I may, I would like to tell you why this is an important issue for our family.

My daughter and husband went to Russia for a missions trip in the summer of 2001. My daughter was 14. One of the jobs they had on the trip was to work with children starting AWANA clubs. They worked with over 350 children, some of them street children. When Emily returned home, she felt fine, but in a few weeks she began to cough. There was no fever, no runny nose, no anything – except this nagging and worsening cough. She couldn’t sleep. I would find her, blue and gagging, hanging over the bathroom sink at night.

Then, our good old pediatrician – God bless his heart – came up with the answer. In looking through her past records, he discovered that due to a reaction to her 2 month old vaccinations, she had never received the vaccination for pertussis after that. In other words, my daughter had whooping cough.

This story gets worse. Because she had babysat for a cousin, who was only 2 months old and unvaccinnated, the baby came down with whooping cough. My mother, who lived with us at the time, was 83 and had had whooping cough 74 years before – she also came down with it. And, both of my boys came down with it as well.

The difference in the case of pertussis my boys had (who were vaccinated) and my daughter (unprotected) was startling and completely convincing. Emily struggled with pertussis for over 12 weeks. She coughed up blood, she turned blue – unable to breath because she couldn’t stop coughing. Each breath was a whooping, yelping struggle for air. There was a period of about 10 days  at the peak – where she absolutely coughed 24 hours a day. She was using an inhaler to try to expand the bronchioles, and was on medication that didn’t really help. The boys had a really bad cough for three or four weeks, but even the asthmatic one never made me pray for his life like I did for Emily’s on those long nights.

Dr. Wile, the medical community has forgotten how to even test for pertussis. My mother, my daughter and my little nephew all went to the lab for testing, nobody knew what to do or how to document this. I found out through research on the internet (at European sites!) that they weren’t even testing correctly. What a nightmare. But, my daughter did recover, and is fine. As pertussis incidences rise, it scares me to think what a horrible awakening waits for these people who purposefully choose not to protect their children. Thank you for trying to set the record straight.

Cara Shelton

Note: Mrs. Shelton is not a medical doctor and does not dispense medical advice. She is a mother who understands by experience how important it is to vaccinate her children. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

Our Journey with Vaccinations

Our fourth child, Katie, was born about the time we started to homeschool in the summer of 1998. I wasn’t totally convinced not to vaccinate, but many of the people we spent time with talked about the dangers of vaccines. I remember being impressed with the logic of one argument that we were essentially injecting poison & disease into our children’s bloodstreams as well as not allowing the natural antibodies that God created to accumulate and build up on their own.

In 1999, Katie was 13 months old and suffered a febrile seizure a week after the DPaT shot. It was a very traumatic experience! I remember carrying my blue baby upstairs, feeling like everything was in SLOW motion. The thought, “She’s not going to make it” was so prevalent as I reached the top of the stairs and placed my baby in my husbands arms. Yet, he quickly did CPR and she started breathing again. Shortly thereafter, the ambulance arrived and took my baby to the ER where they proceeded to poke and prod and try to figure out WHY this baby had a seizure and stopped breathing. After spending the night, NOT sleeping, in the hospital, watching my sleeping baby’s every move and breath, and full of fear of what had caused this horrible problem, I began to wonder if it was the vaccines. The next morning the doctor said that was a very RARE possibility and not to give it another thought. Needless to say, that didn’t satisfy my concerns and we changed doctors.

Over the next few years, we decided NOT to do any more shots for our next 3 children and found out Katie had LOTS of food allergies. I did little research about the hazards of vaccines, but mainly based my decision to not vaccinate off the reports of others who had also decided not to do immunizations. Our pediatrician was very patient with us, but constantly reminded me of the need and safety of immunizations. He did agree it would probably be best for Katie not to receive any more vaccines, but the other children wouldn’t necessarily react just because of Katie’s one time possible immunization seizure. Only God knows for sure what caused Katie’s seizure, but the decision to not immunize came under great scrutiny in September 2004.

Our seventh baby, Emily, came down with a cough when she was nine months old. I have another child with asthma, so I didn’t worry too much. I just gave her a few breathing treatments and figured the changing seasons was causing her to have a cough. Yet, after a week the cough wasn’t improving. By the second week I began to get concerned because the sporadic breathing treatments and over the counter meds weren’t working and the cough seemed to intensify. The doctor seemed to think it was just weather/asthma related, and told me to keep doing what I was doing. Yet, that night a friend commented that the cough reminded her of when her son had whooping cough. The next day I called the doctor back and asked if Pertussis was a possibility since we did not have any immunizations. They quickly put my fears to rest and said it was very unlikely and to keep doing what the doctor had recommended.

We had another sleepless night, with the cough lasting for very long extended periods. I knew it whatever it was, it was serious. My baby would turn so red trying to catch her breath in between these horrible coughing spells. By this time there was a definite “whoop” sound after each cough. I decided we had to go back and see the doctor as soon as possible.

We went to the early morning sick clinic in anticipation of them relieving our fears of Pertussis, only to have the entire family given a state mandated five day quarantine and placed on antibiotics. The doctor only had to hear Emily cough once to decide it must be Pertussis. I was in shock! What did this mean? Was my baby going to die? They quickly took a culture from the back of Emily’s nasal passage and rushed us off to the x-ray lab to see if there were any complications or possible problems.

Within moments of arriving home, the health department called and asked a ton of questions about each child’s symptoms, activities, and contacts over the 3 weeks prior to Emily even starting to cough. It became clear this was a very serious issue that not only affected our family, but our entire community. It was very tedious and time consuming to relate all that information since we are a very active family. Practically our entire church was quarantined because so many people had held Emily during that time period. We were then rushed back to the lab to have all the children that had even a slight cough to get a nose swab culture before taking their first round of antibiotics. We then settled in for a long weekend wait!

The health department continued to call several times a day to check on Emily and see if anyone else had developed symptoms. Also, they were continuing to try to track down anyone we’d had any contact with. At one point I remember explaining to the nurse why we didn’t immunize and expecting her to make me feel guilty. She was very kind in stating we all make decisions based on what we believe is best. She didn’t blame or condemn us for our decision.

Finally, Tuesday morning we got the call that Emily’s culture was positive. The next day they called to say our five year old also tested positive. He had a cough, but it never developed into as bad a whoop as the baby. Thankfully, because Emily was over 6 months old when she contracted Pertussis, she did not have to be hospitalized from the disease and recovered after several months of coughing. Five months after the disease, she still has a horrible cough whenever she gets a little under the weather.

Throughout the entire quarantine, I spent many hours in prayer questioning our original decision. I had believed it was NOT safe to vaccinate and yet, now I was confronted with the fact that it was NOT safe to NOT vaccinate. Either way, we were taking a risk. Our entire community was affected by our decision to not vaccinate! I realized I had to face my fears and TRUST that God would take care of my children. I came to grips with what that meant for me: I had to trust that the vaccines would work for my children’s good like they are supposed to.

We had to wait two months for Emily’s cough to subside enough before getting her first set of immunizations. It was a pretty emotional day with five of my seven children all lined up getting their shots caught up. As they got ready to give Katie her shots, I was shaking. I asked the nurse for confirmation as to which shots Katie had received prior to her seizure in 1999. They confirmed it was the DPaT. I just wasn’t ready to go through that again. The memory was too real. She got her MMR, but I decided NOT to do the DTaP again…just to be safe.

It’s been 3 months. There were NO adverse reactions whatsoever to any of the vaccines. It’s time to go back in for the next round of shots on all the children that were born after Katie. I’ve been waiting for many different reasons—a move to a new town, baby getting sick, new insurance, etc, etc.

While researching some questions online about our science curriculum with Apologia, I came across Dr. Wile’s research on vaccinations. I couldn’t stop reading. I clicked from one article to the next with continued amazement and confirmation that we’d made the right decision. All the lingering fears I’d had were relieved and dispelled as I read the research. All my pediatrician’s counsel over the past 6 years was repeated for me from many different sources. Even the concerns over Katie’s seizure were relieved as I realized it was probably just the anti-vaccination hype that kept me from seeing Katie’s food allergies could have been the cause of the seizure.

I realized I had bought into the anti-vaccination theory without any research or proof. I’d heard of bad immunization cases— of people who believed their autistic child was damaged because of vaccines or their child died because of their immunizations. Fear had motivated me to believe that vaccines were bad.

I can’t make the decision for any other family to vaccinate their children. It is a very personal decision we must each look at carefully. Yet, for me, I realized my decision was not based on facts or research, but fear. God says, “Perfect love casts out all fear.”(1 John 4:18) Also, “He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). I embraced that Word and chose to trust the One that loves my children even more than I do. It is amazing how He continues to confirm to me that the decision to immunize is a wise one.

Kathy Locke

Note: Mrs. Locke is not a medical doctor and does not dispense medical advice. She is a mother who understands by experience how important it is to vaccinate her children. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.


Another example of how the anti-vaccination movement causes children to suffer

I recently received the following from a homeschooling mother. It shows what happens when people believe the lies of the anti-vaccination movement:

“Thank you for your vaccine stance and research! I am a mother who had heard some “horror stories” and was wary of vaccines. As a result, my 3 year-old daughter (now 7) went deaf in one ear due to complications of chickenpox. I have since immunized my younger son (& dear daughter has been immunized against all other known diseases for which vaccines were appropriate)”

The mother (Tammy) hopes that her experience will keep others from believing those same lies.

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

Vaccines DO NOT Contain Fetal Tissue

Of the many lies told by anti-vaccination advocates, this is one of the worst, because it hits on a real moral issue. However, anyone with a modicum of training in biology will tell you that it is impossible for vaccines (or any other injected medicine) to contain human tissue. The reason is simple: if you are injected with anything containing tissue from another person, your body will immediately recognize it as an invader and begin attacking it. This immune response is often quite radical and can easily lead to death! This is why blood from a donor to a recipient must be carefully matched before the recipient can receive it. Thus, there is no human tissue of any kind in vaccines. Unfortunately, the anti-vaccination movement (and even some naive pro- life groups) will try to convince the uninformed that vaccines contain tissue from aborted babies and that abortions must be continually done to supply this tissue to the “evil” drug companies. This is, of course, a bald-faced lie. Unfortunately, this lie is particularly evil, in that it targets a person’s morally correct view that abortion is murder.

For any lie to be successful, there must be a grain of truth in it. This lie is no exception. There is a tangential connection between some vaccines and abortion. The hepatitis A vaccine, the rubella portion of the MMR vaccine, the chicken pox vaccine, and the shingles vaccine all contain viruses (weakened or inactivated) that were grown in human cells. A virus must be given a medium in which to propagate. Many vaccines use viruses that can propagate in several kinds of mammal cells, but some viruses are so specific that they can only propagate in human cells. The viruses used in the above-listed vaccines are that specific. Thus, they must be grown in human cells.

Where do the vaccine companies get the cells for these vaccines? They get them from companies like Coriell Cell Repositories, 403 Haddon Avenu, Camden, New Jersey 08103, 800-752-3805. This company has many cell lines, which are cultures of self-perpetuating cells. Each culture of cells is continually reproducing, making more cells. Those cells are sold to researchers, drug companies, and other medical technology firms. The specific cell lines used in vaccines are the MRC-5 and WI-38 cell lines1, and they have been supplying medical research of all types for more than 45 years. Where do these cell lines come from? That’s where the grain of truth in this lie comes from. Both of these cell lines were cultured from cells taken from two abortions, one (MRC-5) that was performed in September,19662 and one (WI-38) that was performed in July, 19623.

Now that you have learned the facts, we can discuss the moral issues involved. Is it immoral to use these cell lines to make vaccines? The answer is definitely not. You might think that the cell lines are somehow “tainted” because they come from abortions; however, think about it for a moment. Abortion is murder. A person who claims to be a physician purposefully kills an innocent, unprotected person. That is evil, and there is no doubt about it. However, let’s consider another murder, shall we? Let’s suppose one of your loved ones was shot in a robbery attempt. You rush your loved one to the hospital, but it is too late. Your loved one dies. This is another murder, and it is just as evil. Suppose that the doctors rush in and tell you that there is a young boy in the next room who needs a heart immediately, or he will die. The doctors have analyzed your loved one’s blood and found that your loved one is a perfect match for the dying boy. Would you donate your loved one’s heart to the boy? I certainly would. It would be a tragedy that my loved one was murdered, but at least this would be a “silver lining” in that dark cloud. At least my loved one’s death would mean that a young boy could live.

The cells that were taken from the two aborted babies more than 35 years ago are much like my loved one’s heart. Two innocent babies were killed. However, they were able to donate something that has been used not only to make vaccines, but in many medical research projects over the years. Thus, these cells have been saving millions of lives for almost two generations! Although the babies were clearly murdered, the fact that their cells have been saving lives is at least a silver lining in the dark cloud of their tragic murder.

It is important to note that Federal law is quite specific in the matter of donated fetal tissue. The law does not allow for an abortion to be performed for the purpose of donating tissue, and the law even explicitly states that the abortion procedure cannot be changed in order to collect the tissue4. It also prohibits the baby’s family or the doctor from profiting from the donation5. Thus, these cells were truly donated, just as any organ might be donated. If a person is an organ donor and he or she is murdered, it is not immoral for you to use those organs. Once again, at least something good will come out of the murder if those organs are used.

Now that you know the facts, you can see why I consider this lie so devious. Anti-vaccination advocates play on a person’s proper moral indignation about abortion, claiming that if a person gets vaccinated, he or she is supporting the abortion industry. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Whether or not you get vaccinated, the same number of abortions will be performed, as abortions are not necessary to make new vaccines. In addition, you are actually dishonoring the memories of those two precious babies if you refuse vaccination, because you are refusing the one good thing that has come from their murder. At the same time, you are putting your life and the lives of your loved ones in jeopardy by refusing one of the greatest protections that medicine has ever developed! How could anyone call himself pro-life if he dishonors the memory of those who have been murdered while risking the lives of those he loves?

Interestingly enough, a June 9, 2005 statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life (the Vatican’s official voice in the area of abortion/right-to-life) comes to essentially the same conclusion. Even though some organizations have mischaracterized the document as condemning the use of such vaccines6, the document, in fact, says quite the opposite. It says that when an alternative vaccine which has no connection whatsoever to abortion is available, parents should use it. There is no question that this is the moral thing to do. In addition, when there is no alternative available, parents should object by demonstration, etc. so as to force manufactures to come up with an alternative.

However, as for actually using the vaccines that have no alternatives, the document clearly says that parents can do so in order to protect their children and the community. The English translation of the document (originally written in Italian) says, “As regards the vaccines without an alternative, the need to contest so that others may be prepared must be reaffirmed, as should be the lawfulness of using the former in the meantime insomuch as is necessary in order to avoid a serious risk not only for one’s own children but also, and perhaps more specifically, for the health conditions of the population as a whole – especially for pregnant women.”7 Note what this official Roman Catholic document says. It says that parents should CONTEST the vaccines so as to force the manufactures to find new ways to make them, but UNTIL THAT HAPPENS, parents can still use the vaccines that have no alternative, because it will allow them to avoid serious risk to their children, and more importantly, to the population as a whole. The moral good done by the vaccine, then, outweighs any moral evil when it comes to actually USING the vaccine. The statement clearly says the MAKING of the vaccine is bad, but the USE of it is not. In fact, the document specifically mentions rubella as something that should be vaccinated against, even though there is no alternative vaccine – “Moreover, we find, in such a case, a proportional reason, in order to accept the use of these vaccines in the presence of the danger of favouring the spread of the pathological agent, due to the lack of vaccination of children. This is particularly true in the case of vaccination against German measles.”7

Because some organizations have tried to mischaracterize this statement, the Catholic News Service (CNS) produced an article that quotes Msgr. Jacques Suaudeau, a medical doctor and official at the Pontifical Academy for Life, as saying, “If the health of the child or of the whole population [is at risk], the parents should accept having their kid be vaccinated if there is no alternative.” 8 Because some organizations clearly do not like the Roman Catholic church officially saying that the use of these vaccines is morally acceptable, they have asked the Pontifical Academy for Life to change its statement. However, CNS reports that Msgr. Jacques Suaudeau said the document “could not be changed” because it accurately reflected church teaching.8 Despite what you might read, then, even the Vatican supports the use of vaccines that have a tangential relationship to abortion, as long as no alternative vaccines are available.

NOTE: A reader suggested that it would be helpful to present a list of alternatives to the vaccines discussed here. If you feel that you cannot use vaccines that have a tangential relationship to abortion, please follow this link. It is from a well-known pro-life group and discusses the issues in an even-handed manner. More importantly, it contains a list of the vaccines that do have a tangential relationship to abortion and the licensed alternatives to them.


1. Merck and Co, VAQTA (Hepatitis A), M-M-R-II, VARIVAX product inserts 908-423-1000; GLAXO Smithkline Heptatitis A vaccine product insert, 888-825-5249
2. Coriell Cell Repositories – Product AG05965
3. Coriell Cell Repositories – Product AG06814
4. Public Law 103-43; June 10, 1993, National Institutes Of Health Revitalization Act Of 1993, Title I – General Provisions Regarding Title IV Of Public Health Service Act, Part G, Sec. 498A: c-4
5. Public Law 103-43; June 10, 1993, National Institutes Of Health Revitalization Act Of 1993, Title I – General Provisions Regarding Title IV Of Public Health Service Act, Part G, Sec. 498B: a

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

The Unique History of Smallpox

“Variola” may not sound like an intimidating name, but throughout history there was no name more feared. Daniel Koplow in his book, Smallpox: the Fight to Eradicate a Global Scourge, says about variola (better known to English speakers as smallpox), “Over a period of at least three millenia it was second to none in inflicting human pain, suffering and death. By some estimates, smallpox killed as many as 500 million people during the twentieth century alone.”1 Allan Chase agrees, calling smallpox “the worst pestilence ever to afflict mankind.”2 Once the reigning king, this virus has now been consigned to less than 600 samples in two laboratories on this planet and may eventually be condemned to intentional extinction. If nothing else, variola has a unique place in history.

The origin of the virus is unknown, but many who were smitten by it are not: Ramses V of Egypt (whose mummy bears the characteristic scarring of a smallpox victim), Elizabeth I of England, George Washington, as well as billions of people whose names never made it into the annals of history. The symptoms were obvious and the scars unmistakable. After around two weeks of incubation, it might feel like the flu with fever and aches, but a very few days later an unmistakable crop of “postules” (raised bumps under the skin that were hard to the touch) formed and inflicted more pain and discomfort on the sufferer for another couple of weeks. Many of the postules left unsightly scars on the face, neck, and extremities. No one who got the disease escaped without some scars. No one knew how to cure it. No one who was fortunate enough to survive it ever came down with it again.

Many doctors in many cultures had their methods of preventing it, but one method that seemed to work arose in the Asian and African cultures centuries before it was used in the West. These cultures discovered that induced cases were rarely as vicious as naturally acquired smallpox, and they also had a low fatality rate (1% compared with the naturally-occurring case rate of 30%). When it was introduced to the West, it was called “variolation” or “inoculation,” and it was greeted with suspicion and distrust. Westerners often chose not to practice it for several reasons, not the least of them being that it was still considered unsafe by many doctors. Since patients were typically given the disease through contact with an infected person’s blood or lymph, sometimes other diseases such as hepatitis and syphilis were passed on with it, causing severe complications.3 Also, during the course of their inoculation, patients could pass along full-blown cases of smallpox to their loved ones, so they had to be kept in strict quarantine, a measure that was not always successful. Still, it was used with much success in many cultures and was eventually adopted by many European countries and mandated by George Washington for the Continental Army in 1777.4

Many in the New England colonies viewed this practice as evil to the core. Writing in the 18th century, John Williams said, “I do seriously believe it’s a delusion of the Devil; and that there was never the like delusion in New-England since the time of the witchcraft at Salem.”5 Samuel Grainger wrote a letter to a friend attempting to dissuade him from accepting the practice and appealed to a variety of arguments. Hoping most of all to base his viewpoint on the Bible, he believed that smallpox was judgment from God, either for personal or national sin. He felt that the only means available afforded by the Bible for dealing with a pestilential disease was to repent of sin and reform one’s ways. Circumventing judgment by taking steps to prevent the disease only brought on further judgment from God. “Must the Supreme Providential Will become subservient to the becks and appointment of the human will, or must the human will say, the divine will be done,” he wrote6 . The fact that a person undergoing inoculation could pass along smallpox to his neighbors bothered him as well since we are commanded by the Bible to love our neighbors7.

Others defended the practice against these arguments with varying degrees of success. William Cooper wrote in 1721, “To bring sickness upon oneself for its own sake, is what no man in his right wits would do. But to make myself sick in such a way, as may probably serve my health, and save my life, and with such a design is certainly fitting and reasonable and therefore lawful.”8 Eventually, the attitude of another writer, James Jurin, put the controversy over inoculation in a striking light, “He [any physician] will consider, whether it will be for his reputation, where his friend and his patient shall put his life, or the lives of his children, into his hands, to amuse himself with theological disputes and scruples, whether it be lawful to save them. For if the practice of inoculation be really found to be a means of preserving life, it will not be easy to make the world believe, that it is criminal to use it.”9

It took a middle-aged country doctor in England to bring the king of infectious diseases to it knees. Edward Jenner of Berkeley, Glouchestershire had treated many patients throughout his medical career, and he would often treat sufferers of a disease called cowpox. Although it afflicted cows primarily, many milkmaids would contract the disease from the cows they milked. It always had more benign (although similar) manifestations than smallpox, and it was a well-known proverb of the milkmaids that those who got cowpox never got smallpox. Curious, Dr. Jenner, who had been variolated as a boy and therefore could not test it out on himself, took some lymph from a milkmaid’s infected hand and infected eight-year-old James Phipps with it on May 14th of 1796. In early July, he injected James with smallpox and waited. Nothing happened. He tried again a couple of weeks later, but the boy was immune to the virus. Jenner surmised that cowpox was related to smallpox and provides crossimmunity, that is, immunity against both itself and its related viruses, to the person who recovers from it. He called his process “vaccination” from the Latin word “vacca” or “cow.” The medical fields of vaccination and immunology developed out of that single discovery – and so did the death of smallpox.10

The news of Jenner’s discovery swept Europe where, for instance, Bavaria made obligatory vaccination the law in 180711. Many nations’ militaries followed suit, though the nations themselves did not because of many who mistrusted the practice. Vaccination was much less expensive than variolation. Beyond being safer for the patients, it was much cheaper and safer for others around them than variolation. Some practitioners of variolation were displeased with these advantages because they were bad for business, and vaccination did not earn as much for them. Some doctors honestly feared for the safety of those being vaccinated because of the rare side effects or complications from the procedure. Others who were heavily involved in the sanitation and public reform movements thought that smallpox could be controlled by increased sanitation, thus making vaccination unnecessary. Still others, like Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, thought that smallpox was God’s means of keeping the unworthy poor from overrunning the earth’s population, and thus it should not be diminished by such measures.12

Slowly the method of vaccination was refined. It must be remembered that vaccination was invented and implemented long before any nation had strict controls on medical products and procedures. Also, the workings of the disease and of the human immune system were largely unknown when this practice was discovered, thus making true knowledge of how to improve it much more difficult. For many patients early on, the process was done by arm-to-arm contact, but this brought with it the same risks of contamination for other diseases, such as hepatitis and syphilis, that inoculation had13. Soon the vaccine was taken from bovine sources instead to prevent contamination. When it was discovered that glycerin inhibited the propagation of all kinds of bacteria, it was added to vaccines in order to prevent many bacterial contaminants.14 The current vaccine stocked by the World Health Organization is made from “pulp scraped from vaccine-infected animal skin, mainly calf and sheep, with phenol added to a concentration sufficient to kill bacteria but not so high as to inactivate the vaccinia virus.”

With aggressive use, the vaccine quickly tapered off the number of cases throughout the world. In 1948, the United Nations created the World Health Organization (WHO). Early on, it focused its attention on smallpox. Global involvement was considered key in the process of fully stopping this dread disease – as long as there was one place where the virus lived on, anyone who traveled there would be at risk and large- scale vaccination programs would have to continue indefinitely. However, if there were a means of controlling and eventually wiping out the virus’ potential hosts all over the world, humanity could perhaps rest easy at last.

Daniel Koplow points out the wisdom of the coordinators of this effort. Instead of attempting to vaccinate every single person on the globe, the strategy involved quick identification of outbreak sites and vaccination in those immediate areas to prevent further spread. Three things about the nature of the disease aided the eradication campaign. First, everyone who had the virus showed outward signs, making it easier to find outbreaks of the virus. Second, the virus has no non-human carriers, so only where human beings were stricken with it could they find the virus. Also, they did not have to worry about fleas, rats, or other animals carrying it, as happened with the bubonic plague. Third, many nations instituted obligatory vaccination programs for their citizens thus doing the work for the WHO volunteers. Efforts were astonishingly successful in places like West Africa, one of the hotbeds of smallpox in the world, which was declared to be completely free of smallpox within less than four years after the campaign’s work began there15. The last case of naturally-occurring smallpox was found in Somalia in 1979. Aaron Chase adds “The total cost to all the world’s nations of the World Health Organization smallpox eradication program came to only 300 million, or far less than the going price of a half-dozen F-16 or equivalent fighter-bombers.”16 It took a great deal of global coordination, trial and error, and scientific exploration to beat smallpox, but vaccination – the most inexpensive and safe of all medical procedures – made it possible.


1. Daniel A. Koplow Smallpox: the Fight to Eradicate a Global Scourge University of California Press, Berkeley, CA 2003, p. 1
2. Allan Chase Magic Shots: a Human and Scientific Account of the Long and Continuing Struggle to Eradicate Infectious Diseases by Vaccination, William Morrow and Company, New York, NY, 1982, p. 51
3. Ibid., p. 74
4. Daniel A. Koplow, p.18
5. John Williams “An Answer to a Late Pamphlet, intitled, ‘A Letter to a Friend in the Country, Attempting a Solution of the Scruples and Objections of a Consciencious or Religious Nature, Commonly Made Against the New Way of Receiving the Smallpox’ ” Early American Imprints. First Series, no. 2407 Readex Microprint (New York), 1985, p. 4
6. Samuel Grainger “The Imposition of Inoculation as a Duty Religiously Considered in a Leter[sic] to a Gentleman in the Country inclin’d to Admit It” Early American Imprints. First Series, no. 2222 Readex Microprint (New York), 1985, p.12
7. Ibid., p.25
8. William Cooper “A Letter to a Friend in the Country, Attempting a Solution of the Scruples and Objections of a Conscientious or Religious Nature, Commonly Made Against the New Way of Receiving the Small-pox.” Early American Imprints. First Series, no. 2247 Readex Microprint (New York), 1985, p.3
9. James Jurin An Account of the Success of Inoculation the Small Pox in Great Britain: with a Comparison but MisCarriages in that Practice, and the Mortality of the Natural Small-pox 2nd edition. Printed for J. Peele (London), 1724, p. 4
10. Allan Chase, p. 42-46
11. Ibid. p. 62
12. Ibid. p. 72-3
13. Daniel Hopkins The Greatest Killer: Smallpox in History, with a New Introduction University of Chicago Press (Chicago), 2002, p. 85
14. Fenner, F. Smallpox and its Eradication World Health Organization, (Genva) 1988 ( Available online)
15. Ibid. p. 23
16. Ibid. p. 82

Erica A. Sommerville is not a medical doctor but a college student. She does not dispense medical advice. Her aim is to educate the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

The Data In Support of Vaccines are Nothing Like the “Data” That Supposedly Support Evolution

The theory of evolution has damaged science in many ways. It has reduced the progress of science, trapped scientists within an inconsistent framework, and promoted a dogmatic view of science that squelches opposing views. It has also had one other effect: It has reduced the stature of science in the public’s eye. After all, if so many scientists are willing to believe a theory that is opposed by the vast majority of the data, how can you believe anything that scientists say? Many anti-vaccination advocates prey on that perception. They claim that a belief in the safety and efficacy of vaccines is much like a belief in evolution – nothing more than a desire to stay within the “mainstream” of science.

That claim ignores one very important difference between vaccines and evolution: direct, repeatable experiments. Simply put, you cannot put the theory of evolution to the test with an experiment. You can look at data such as fossils, radioactive decay, etc., and then you can INTERPRET those data, but you cannot do any direct experimentation testing the theory. Since your only option is to INTERPRET data, any conclusion that you reach will be very tentative, because interpretation of indirect data is prone to all sorts of problems. Your world view will color the interpretation; the interpretation will be built on many untestable assumptions; and the very data you are using may not even be relevant to the theory. As a result, no matter how careful you are, you may very well be wrong in your conclusion. This is certainly the case when studying the theory of evolution. The data you are studying are indirect, so any conclusion that you reach must be very tentative.

This is definitely not the case when you are studying vaccines (or any other medical procedure), because you can do direct experimentation to determine their safety and efficacy. For example, before a vaccine can be licensed, it must go through several levels of controlled studies. First, it must be tested on animals. A group of animals is given the vaccine, and another group (the control group) is not. They are all then exposed to the germ that causes the disease. If the rate of the disease is significantly lower in the vaccinated animals than in the unvaccinated animals, and if there are no undesirable health effects in the vaccinated animals as compared to the unvaccinated animals, then the vaccine can be tested on human volunteers.

In the first level of human tests, a small group (usually less than 100) of volunteers is given the vaccine. If, over the next few months, there are no adverse effects noted in the small group compared to the population at large, then the vaccine can move on to the next level of clinical testing. In that level, a larger group (usually several hundred volunteers) is given the vaccine, and they are followed for up to two years. The rate of the disease in the testing group is compared to the rate for the nation as a whole. In addition, the rates of several health maladies in the testing group are compared to the rates of those maladies for the nation as a whole. If the rate of the disease is lower in the testing group as compared to the nation as a whole, and if the rates of the health maladies are no higher than the corresponding rates of the nation as a whole, then the vaccine is allowed to go to the final level of testing.

In the final level of testing, a huge group (typically several thousand) of volunteers is given the vaccine, and their health is tracked for several years. Once again, the incidence of the disease in the test group is compared to that of the nation as a whole, and the incidence of several health maladies in the test group are also compared to those of the nation as a whole. In order for the vaccine to be licensed, the rate of the disease against which the vaccine works must be significantly lower in the testing group than in the nation as a whole. In addition, the incidence of health maladies in the testing group must be no higher than that of the nation as a whole.

Notice, then, how vaccines are studied. They are put through direct experiments. First, animals are used. Then, humans are used in three separate kinds of direct experiments. The nation as a whole acts as a control group (those who make up the statistics did not get the vaccine), and those who get the vaccine are compared to that control group. The vaccine can only be licensed if the group that gets the vaccine has a lower incidence of the disease and no more health maladies than the control group. This is the basic scientific method.

In addition to all of these studies, follow-up studies are done once the vaccine is being used in the general population. Groups of people who get the vaccine are constantly compared to groups of people who (by choice or religious conviction) do not get the vaccine. In order for the vaccine to continue to be used, the group getting the vaccine must always have a significantly lower incidence of the disease as compared to those who do not get the vaccine, and they must have no greater rates of health maladies than those who do not get the vaccine. These are direct studies. There is no interpretation involved.

Compare this to the theory of evolution. In the study of evolution, there are no direct experiments. You can look at the fossil record, for example, but you must first assume how those fossils were made. Were they the result of slow accumulation over millions of years or fast, catastrophic processes? There seems to be evidence both ways. I think that the preponderance of evidence favors fast, catastrophic processes, but many scientists would disagree with me on that point. As a result, their interpretation of the fossil record will be different than mine, leading them to a completely different conclusion.

When studying vaccines, we need not make such assumptions. We directly compare those who get the vaccines to those who do not. There is no room for interpretation – if the testing group has a lower incidence of the disease than the control group, then the vaccine is effective. If not, the vaccine is not effective. If the testing group has the same (or lower) rates of health maladies as compared to the control, then the vaccine is safe. If not, the vaccine is not safe.

Because the data related to vaccines is direct, the conclusion that the standard vaccines are safe and effective is a solid, scientific conclusion. As a result, the vast majority of scientists, including young-earth creationists, agree that vaccines are safe and effective. For example, one of the leading young-earth creationist groups in the world is Creation Ministries International. On their website, they have posted a very positive discussion on vaccines. Some of their readers were obviously upset by this, and they wrote in to complain. The scientist at Answers in Genesis had very little patience with them. In addition, I work with a wide variety of young-earth scientists who have various degrees in the life sciences. When I speak with them about the anti-vaccination movement, they all shake their heads. They are familiar with the anti-vaccination movement, but they are also familiar with the science behind vaccines. As a result, they are amazed that anyone could believe the anti-vaccination movement.

Now, does the very fact that most young-earth creationists agree that vaccines are safe and effective prove the case? Of course not. However, the point is that if any scientist is willing to buck the “mainstream” of scientific thought, it would be a young-earth creationist. However, the vast majority agree with the scientific mainstream when it comes to vaccinations. Why? Because the data are so clear on the subject.

Probably the best admonition to Christians comes from Creation Ministries International. In their response to anti-vaccination advocates, they state:

But we urge people to always check what they read, especially on the Internet where anyone can publish anything. The vast majority of websites do not have the checks and balances by highly qualified referees as the CMI site tries to apply.

We also remind Christians that CMI is primarily pro-Bible, especially on its teaching that death is the result of sin. Our anti-evolution/millions of years stance is the corollary of this, not the end in itself. By extension, we are not anti-establishment for its own sake. We oppose the ‘establishment’ only where they conflict with the Bible. So we urge Christians to ensure that their stance comes from being pro-Bible, not a knee-jerk anti-establishmentism.

I truly pray that every Christian takes that admonition to heart!

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

Individuals Who Have Suffered and Even Died Because They Were Not Vaccinated

When you look at disease rates in countries where vaccination rates are low and compare them to disease rates in similar countries where vaccination rates are high, it is clear that many people needlessly suffer and even die because they are not vaccinated (See our article entitled “Small Decision, Large Impact: Why Not Vaccinating Your Child Is Dangerous”). From a medical point of view, such data clearly show that the decision not to vaccinate can lead to terrible tragedy.

However, such raw statistics may not drive home the personal tragedy that results from not being vaccinated. As a result, I want to discuss the personal stories of several people who learned (the hard way) the dangers of not being vaccinated. I pray that their stories will help people realize the risk that they face if they choose not to vaccinate.

Mathilda (last named withheld by request)
I recently received the following from a homeschooling mother. It shows what happens when people believe the lies of the anti-vaccination movement:

“Thank you for your vaccine stance and research! I am a mother who had heard some “horror stories” and was wary of vaccines. As a result, my 3 year-old daughter (now 7) went deaf in one ear due to complications of chickenpox. I have since immunized my younger son (& dear daughter has been immunized against all other known diseases for which vaccines were appropriate)”

The mother (Tammy) hopes that her experience will keep others from believing those same lies.

Christopher Aaron Chinnes
Christopher Aaron Chinnes died of complications due to chickenpox at age 12. He would most likely be alive today if he had been vaccinated against chickenpox. His mother is on a crusade to get every child vaccinated so that no one else has to experience her grief. Read her heart-wrenching story here.

Joseph Patrick Kepferle
Joseph Patrick Kepferle contracted meningococcal meningitis while in college. Had he gotten the vaccine, as was recommended by the college, he would most likely be alive and well today. His parents are on the board of the National Meningitis Association, which urges all students to be vaccinated against this deadly disease. Read about the tragedy here.

Evan Bozof
Evan Bozof was a healthy, 20-year old college student until he contracted meningococcal meningitis at college. He died within a month of contracting the disease. There is a vaccine available, and it costs about $60. The boy’s mother, Lynn Bozof, said, “I am positive if I had known about the vaccine that helps prevent meningococcal meningitis, my son Evan would have been immunized and he would be alive today.” ( Read more about Evan and the dangers of meningitis at college.

Ryan Milley
Ryan Milley had graduated from high school and was getting ready for college when he was killed by Meningococcal Meningitis. His mother, Frankie, says, “Within 48 hours of his death I heard about MENOMUNE, a vaccine that could have saved Ryan’s life. For years our military have been vaccinated against this disease. Yet our children have been left to be mutilated or killed by this disease.” She is the founder of Meningitis angels, an organization that tries to educate people so that they do not have to live through her tragedy. Read her story here.

Dr. Dean Blumberg tells the heart-wrenching story of a family that he treated. The family did not vaccinate, and the elder daughter of the family was infected with whooping cough. Although she was able to get over the sickness, she unfortunately gave it to her younger sister, Amanda, who was only two months old. The poor baby coughed so much that she could not get enough oxygen to her brain, and she died. The baby was too young for a vaccination, but had her sister been vaccinated, she would most likely not have gotten the disease and thus not have passed it on to her poor baby sister. Think of the emotional devastation of the family: a lost baby that was infected by her own sister. All of that heartache could have been prevented by a simple vaccination! 1

Nine innocent children in Philadelphia
Dr. Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, experienced the 1991 measles epidemic in Philadelphia first-hand. During that epidemic, 1,600 children contracted measles and nine of them died. As Offit says, “At the heart of the outbreak in the city was a Baptist church whose members chose not to vaccinate.” Of the nine innocent children who died, seven were from that church. The other two who died were babies who had yet to get their MMR vaccination. Had the church not been anti-vaccination, these nine precious ones would still be alive today. 2

Name Withheld
A previously healthy 11-year old girl died of complications from varicella infection on May 24, 20023. On May 23, 2002, she came to the emergency room with a history of fever, tachypnea, and chicken pox infection that had lasted up to 12 days. The Emergency Room physician recognized the patient was in shock and she was immediately transported to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. She was urgently intubated and CPR was initiated. The child died early the next morning. She had not been vaccinated. If she had been vaccinated, she would most likely be alive and well today.

Amanda Worthy
In 1990, Anne Marie Worthy refused the Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib) vaccine for her daughter Amanda. Amanda came down with Hib and as a result had epiglottitis, a severe swelling of tissue in the throat that is caused by Hib bacteria. She wound up spending three weeks in intensive care, but she pulled through. Today, she is deaf in one ear and has a learning disability that requires daily medication to stimulate brain cells. Her mother is now a strong advocate of vaccination. Read about Amanda’s tragic story.

John Kach
John Kach was never vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis because the shots were too expensive. In college at age 19, he was infected and went into a coma. He survived, but only after amputation. Read about his ordeal and how he is coping now.

Aaron Chottiner
Just one month before he was scheduled for his MMR vaccine, 11-month old Aaron came home from daycare with red, watery eyes, a cough, and a mild fever. Eventually, he was diagnosed with measles, but not before he had also infected his mother. Although his mother completely recovered, Aaron never did. He is free of measles, but he has a chronic respiratory illness that is a result of the measles infection. He will have to live with that for the rest of his life. Most likely, he caught measles from a child in daycare who was not vaccinated, as several children from that daycare came down with measles. As Becki says, “One person who wasn’t immunized made several babies sick with the disease, and three of them were hospitalized. We have an obligation to consider not only our own children, bit all the children they come into contact with.”4

Mary Catherine
Suzzane Walther was concerned about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, so she decided to do more research on vaccinations before giving them to her child. As she was researching, her child, Mary Catherine, contracted the vaccine-preventable Hib virus. Her child survived, but not without suffering first. She is now furious with herself for believing the lies of the anti-vaccination movement. Read her story here.

If you would like to read more stories that bring the dangers of not being vaccinated down to a personal level, visit the The Immunization Action Coalition’s website. They currently have fifty “stories of people who suffered or died from vaccine-preventable diseases.”


1. Senate Health and Human Services Committee Hearing, “Childhood Immunization Mandates: Politics vs. Public Health,” 1-23-2002, State Capitol of California
2. Anita Manning, “To vaccinate or not to vaccinate: Parents worry about safety – which worries health officials,” USA Today, July 17, 2000.
3. Wayne Staggs and Donna Allen, “Varicella Death Reported in Indiana,” Indiana Epidemiology Newsletter, August 2002.
4. Humiston, Sharon G. and Good, Cynthia Vacccinating Your Child: Questions and Answers for the Concerned Parent Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA 2000, pp. 113-4

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.