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Feedback archive Feedback 2005

Are vaccines biblical, safe or effective?

28 January 2005

I just wanted to say that I’m very disappointed in the article written by Carl Wieland called Vaccines and Genesis: Questions and Answers on Vaccinations and the Immune System.

I sincerely appreciate you taking the trouble to write and express that view. This is a highly emotionally charged issue for all concerned, and it is inevitable that many will not agree. I did write as an individual, not as pushing a ministry position. I believe that the other senior scientists would not have a radically different view, though.

I guess the main point is that I was trying to point out that it is a wisdom issue, i.e., the judgment has to be made on the basis of the best evidence to date, since there is no definitive biblical teaching either for or against. Weighing the evidence is hard for all parties, because it depends on the sources of one’s information. I.e., even though many people try to put one into a ‘camp’ (you’re either ‘for’ or ‘against’ vaccination) what I was trying to say was meant to lead people to conclude that vaccine A may have a safety profile X, and an effectiveness Y, while vaccine B may have a safety profile P and an effectiveness N, and even that information may change as more is found out. I.e., it is a question of a case-by-case assessment. There is a risk in vaccinating, and a risk in not vaccinating. Depending on the evidence, I would want to feel free to choose to vaccinate my child for disease C, but not for disease D, depending on the best evidence available.

I don’t even know where to begin with this topic! When making the decision whether to continue to vaccinate my daughter or not, I turned the situation completely over to the Lord and prayed about it continually. God lead me completely in the direction of not vaccinating. I’m 100% sure of my decision based on what the Lord showed me.

I respect your right to make that decision. Totally. However, other sincere Christians have prayed for wisdom in such a decision and have decided differently, confident that their decision was guided by God. On such issues where Scripture is silent, we need to always be aware that our decisions are not ‘holy writ’. After all, since Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16–17:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Therefore if Scripture is silent on a matter, or if a decision cannot be reached by logical deduction from the teachings of Scripture, Christians are free to use wisdom to make a decision here. This is the principle of Romans 14.

I find it really sad to hear a Christian Dr. side with the corruption of drug companies, the CDC, WHO, etc.

Actually, I don’t think it’s fair to say that I sided with anyone I thought or knew was corrupt. To suggest, respectfully, that everything put forward by every drug company, or by the WHO, is corrupt and automatically to be rejected is not helpful, I would submit. It is also a biblical principle not to make accusations without proof. And while drug companies are motivated to make profits, they will not make profits from drugs or vaccines if these don’t have a strong tendency to make people well. Also, because of the reality of civil suits for damages, drug companies cannot afford to knowingly market a product that causes users to suffer ill effect—so the profit motive actually tends to work in favour of the users of their products. Furthermore, much of the development of vaccines has been done by university-based researchers, not drug companies.

There has never ever been a double blinded study done to prove the safety of vaccines!

I believe that my comments were not trying to say that vaccines (or any modality of treatment) were totally safe—see my earlier comments about the balance of risk. In fact, there is no such thing as total safety. Water is not totally safe either.

I would love to know where he found his information saying there was! Vaccines have never been proven to be safe or effective!

It is wrong to claim that there have never been any double-blind studies to seek to demonstrate the safety of vaccines. There have been many, many double-blind trials. Here are two, the first two found with a Google search, using the terms ‘vaccine double blind’: Clinical Cancer Research Vol. 7, 1882–1887, July 2001; Lancet. 1996 Sep 14, 348(9029):701–7. If you do a search of Pubmed (a database of medical research papers) using the above terms, the list of recent published experiments runs to 71 pages! Side effects (safety) are one of the most important aspects of vaccine research. Any maladies are recorded and the vaccinated and placebo or unvaccinated group are compared for the incidence of such maladies to determine if the vaccine caused the malady. Many potential vaccines do not make it into use because such double-blind trials reveal problems or that the vaccine does not work (e.g., the second paper listed above),

However, we know that many diseases were definitely unsafe in the prevaccination era to which I would never want to return, e.g., polio, cholera and smallpox.

In fact, it’s theory that antibodies created by vaccines …

‘Antibodies created by vaccines’ is not even a theory (please also see why one should avoid the related phrase ‘Evolution is just a theory’)—the vaccines create nothing. Rather, they are a weakened form of the pathogen (the disease-causing entity) that stimulates the body’s immune system to create antibodies, by providing target practice as it were. It’s important in making such important decisions to be as informed as possible.

… are effective in fighting disease!

Antibodies fighting disease is a highly demonstrable theory. Louis Pasteur (a creationist) made his point most dramatically in public demonstrations with animals. He even did it with rabies, which was till then always fatal, in a dramatic demonstration of the effectiveness of vaccination with people—see Louis Pasteur. And, if you are bitten by a rabid dog, I suggest that you get vaccinated, because, barring a miracle, you will be dead in a few weeks (because of the slow development of rabies, it is feasible to be vaccinated after one is infected, unlike other diseases where the time of infection is not obvious and/or the disease develops quickly).

Furthermore, antibodies have been isolated and used to clearly and dramatically save lives. For example, antivenene is based upon the production of antibodies in, for example, horses. The actual antibodies can then bring someone back from the brink of death from otherwise-fatal snakebite.

Research into the workings of the immune system have revealed an incredibly complex system that was clearly designed by the Creator. How it works is still being elucidated, but antibodies are a proven, integral part of that marvellous system that protects us from disease. For example, if a person gets infected with a strain of influenza, their immune system produces antibodies specific to this strain of influenza. Those purified antibodies, injected into another person, will protect them from that same strain of influenza for a while. But a vaccine will stimulate the person’s own immune system to produce antibodies (these antibodies can be measured) such that they will have active immunity, which lasts much longer than passive immunity from receiving someone else’s antibodies.

Furthermore, with organ transplants, rejection is a major problem because the host person generates antibodies to the foreign proteins present in the donated organ. Antibodies are about as close to a scientific fact as one could get. This is demonstrable experimental science, not some vague hypothesis.

How do you explain people with absolutely no antibodies in their body fighting off disease?

I’m not sure where you get your information. The body’s immune system is very complex, and involves, for example, the following:

  1. Cells that directly fight disease, for example there are even some that swallow up other cells.

  2. Cells that produce antibodies.

  3. Chemicals that are not specific, like antibodies, but that fight disease generally. For example, virus infections cause the body to produce interferon—the same chemical for a range of viral diseases.

If a person has none of the cells from the bone marrow that are involved in 1) and 2) for example, then that person will generally die within hours from being invaded by the germs that are all around us. I have personally seen cases like this, where an autoimmune response after a virus infection causes the person’s bone marrow to shut down. This is not mere theory, this is tragic fact.

And it is FACT that some vaccines are made using the medium of tissue cells of aborted fetuses!

Abortion is a tragic evil, and the articles should have made clear that we don’t for a minute condone or support that, but oppose it in the strongest possible terms. This should be clear in general from Q&A: Human Life—Abortion and Euthanasia.

In fact, we would prefer it if you didn’t use such a medicalese term like ‘fetus’ for unborn baby, because this tends to perpetuate the notion that it is somehow less than a baby. That’s unless one would be likewise prepared to use the medicalese ‘gravida’ for the pregnant mother.

[Update: there is a lot more to the story—see Vaccines and abortion?]

The information is found in the 1997 Physician’s Desk Reference. How does he explain away the other dangerous components in vaccines such as aluminum phosphate, formaldehyde, ammonium sulfate, thimerosol, etc?

I don’t attempt to ‘explain away’ anything. The article in our Journal of Creation, Understanding poisons from a creationist perspective, explains that anything (including water and oxygen) in a large enough quantity is poisonous, and nothing is poisonous in small enough quantities (e.g., botox anti-wrinkling treatment that uses botulinum toxin which is deadly in larger amounts). ‘The dose makes the toxin.’ We put into our bodies all sorts of chemicals every day that are found ‘naturally’ which, in large enough quantities, would be deadly. For example, an average bowl of totally ‘natural’ muesli contains a ‘mess’ of carcinogenic chemicals (cancer-causing if in large enough or long enough application).

One of the unspoken assumptions in some of the more colourful antivaccination literature I’ve read has an unspoken implication that the manufacturers of vaccines somehow want to put unhealthy things in vaccines. I’ve even read some stuff accusing the WHO of deliberately manufacturing AIDS. In my experience, once someone has that sort of thing as a starting assumption, having a calm discussion on the pros and cons of the evidence is difficult.

Those don’t sound like things God would condone us to put into our bodies!

Again respectfully, I could list a host of things that ‘sound’ like that too, things we do put in our bodies daily in minute amounts and which are all around us. It doesn’t really seem as if God would condone children suffering and dying unnecessarily, either. Doing things to heal or prevent disease is something I hope both of us would agree God would condone.

So the real question is: Weighing up all the pros and cons, which is the greater good? If we knew that having a small amount of calcium phosphate or aluminium phosphate in our system (which the body can deal with using its normal enzymes, etc., since they are salts normally found in our food—calcium and phosphate are both present in baby’s milk, for example) on one occasion in our children’s lives could save their lives, then I suggest we would not be swayed, neither you or I, by the idea that these things ‘sound like’ something undesirable in our bodies.

I think many people would rather have small amounts of these chemicals in their bodies than lots of unopposed pathogens, which I remind you again used to snuff out myriads of lives.

So we are back to the question of whether the downside outweighs the upside, or vice versa. Even formaldehyde and peroxide are generated in small amounts by enzymes in our bodies, but we were designed with mechanisms for getting rid of the small amounts generated.

I’m so upset about this!

I genuinely would not intend that, but we must be guided by Scripture where Scripture speaks either directly or indirectly, or by wisdom if not, rather than by our ‘feelings’.

He also states, ‘the reason we experiment on monkeys is because they are more similar in their created design, then we have the same practical outcome, but a different philosophical framework’. PLEASE!!!

This certainly sounds odd as an isolated quote, but when I reread, puzzled, what I said, it makes perfect sense in context. Please check the context again—it was making a very simple point about this fact, namely: just because a treatment (whatever that treatment might be, the argument is the same) has been derived from experiments on monkeys, based on the belief that monkeys are our evolutionary relatives, does not invalidate that treatment if clinical results show that the treatment works. In the field of logic, this is known as the ‘genetic fallacy’, where something is thrown out because of its origin. Thus, for example, I would maintain that a Christian should feel free to take an aspirin, on the basis that it works, even should it turn out that aspirin was purified and developed by someone motivated by a fanatical belief in evolution. If you see a flaw in that argument, you’re welcome to make your point.

I had respect for your organization, and though I still agree with much of what you say, I have to say you lost come credibility with me over this article.

That obviously was not the intention, and I hope that this response will restore some of that and help us all focus on the real intent, namely to encourage people to feel free to weigh the evidence. At the time that internal surgery in the human body was contemplated and beginning to take place, some might have been concerned that they were doing wrong by ‘interfering’ with the natural order (putting a knife into the body, slashing it open, chopping and hacking—does that sound like the sort of thing God would want us to do to our bodies? If God wanted us to fiddle with our insides, He would have put a zipper on our abdomen, that sort of thing.) A biblical worldview based on Genesis would have helped instantly by making all parties realize that

  1. there is no biblical prohibition against surgery;

  2. there is a biblical ‘positive’ (see Christ’s example in healing) in anything which locally and temporarily overcomes the effects of the Curse;

  3. nevertheless, it would be foolish to have tried to force anyone at that time into positions of ‘for’ or ‘against’ surgery. Because all surgery carries some risk, and some surgery is good surgery, some is bad surgery. And in each situation, it has to be weighed up case by case. In the early days of surgery, one might have chosen not to operate for condition X, because it was too dangerous, whereas now one might be foolish, even irresponsible, not to do it. Anyway, that is a sort of picture of where I stand on vaccines, for example. Wisdom issues, with principles to apply from Scripture.

God Bless,

 You too.

Rachel

Dr Carl Wieland
Managing Director, Creation Ministries International–Australia


A lack of answers … answered!

Sir/Ma’am,

Please continue your hard work; you are an inspiration to us who are not scientists. My faith in God and our salvation through Jesus Christ was literally dying until I happened upon your website. I just couldnt justify my beliefs anymore when the media is constantly coming up with more evidence as to why the Bible is just a fairy tale. Sure, I have always had questions (Wheres the modern/fossil proof?) but I was breaking down intellectually due to my own lack of answers. I realize now that the answers have always been there but I had bought into the lie that only ignorant Christians view the Bible literally and that intelligent Christians find a way to rationalize old-Earth science and Scripture. In the process of rationalization I almost lost my beliefs.

By the way, no matter what the opposition tells you, many of us on your side have a great understanding of math and science. I am 25 years old and I graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelors of Science (not Arts) degree in Economics which at least implies on paper that I am capable of rational thought.

Keep coming up with the evidence, the rest of us will help you reach the masses.

Thank you for your time.
Respectfully,
Charles Wesley Mathes
USA

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