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Ebola disease: the result of the Fall

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wikiepedia.org

Ebola-virus

Ebola virus

Published: 25 October 2014 (GMT+10)

For the last year or so, a deadly epidemic has ravaged West Africa. The culprit is the Ebola virus (genus Ebolavirus), named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaïre). This causes a high-grade fever accompanied by abnormal bleeding, both internal and external—hence the term ‘viral hemorrhagic fever’—plus other nasty things like diarrhea and vomiting.

The resulting loss of blood and accompanying organ failure means the disease is very dangerous—a 70.8% case fatality rate.1 So in Africa, it has claimed over 4,000 victims,2 and it’s estimated that the total death toll will reach over 20,000.1 Recently Ebola claimed a fatality in the USA, as well as infecting nurses at two modern hospitals in the USA and Spain.

The basic answer is that viruses and bacteria were not disease-causing before the Fall, but had beneficial functions. Also, our immune system has suffered the effects of the Curse, so no longer works as well.

The disease is highly contagious, i.e. spread through bodily contact, in particular with body fluids. However, it is not as transmissible as many better-known diseases, in that one Ebola-infected person infects on average only two people—in technical terms, R0 (‘R-nought’) = 2. By comparison, for mumps, R0 = 10, and measles has an R0 of 18 around unvaccinated people (when most people are vaccinated, R0 approaches 0).3

What is Ebola virus?

Ebola virus is classified as a filovirus (family Filoviridae), or thread-shaped virus. Unlike bacteria, viruses are non-living entities, because they can’t reproduce on their own, but need the copying machinery of more complex cells. Viruses are so tiny that they can be seen only by electron microscopes. [UPDATE 10 February 2016: But see Pandoraviruses: a Pandora’s Box of trouble for evolution.]

Ebola viruses don’t use DNA as their information storage material, but the related molecule RNA. RNA is even less stable than DNA, because its sugar ‘backbones’ are more susceptible to attack.4 And DNA is very unstable chemically, thus a fortiori how much more is RNA; so how preposterous is it to think that life began in an ‘RNA world’?5 DNA researchers often need to store it in liquid nitrogen, at about –200°C, and even that frigid temperature doesn’t entirely stop breakdown. A recent paper on DNA stability estimates that, even when preserved in bone, it would be completely disintegrated in 22,000 years at 25°C, 131,000 years at 15°C, 882,000 years at 5°C; and 6.83 million years at –5°C6—thus finding dinosaur DNA in dinosaur bones is disproof of the millions-of-years dogma.

So what is the advantage of the virus using such an unstable genetic material? RNA, unlike DNA, can be translated directly into a protein via the ribosome; DNA must be transcribed into RNA first (see animation). The Ebola RNA is ‘negative sense’, just like that of the influenza virus, meaning that it’s in the opposite direction to the strand that must be translated into protein. So it must carry around the enzyme RNA polymerase to copy the ‘positive sense’ strand from the negative sense. The virus’s genetic information is minuscule compared to that of truly living organisms—it has only about 19,000 genetic ‘letters’, while the tiniest bacteria, the Mycoplasmas, have about 600,000 letters, and humans have 3 billion. The virus’s genome codes for only eight proteins, while that of Mycoplasmas codes for almost 500.

How DNA is transcribed into mRNA with RNA polymerase, then translated into a protein in the ribosome with tRNA ‘adaptor’ molecules. This protein is then escorted by chaperones into a chaperonin so it folds correctly. All this machinery is itself encoded in the DNA, but the DNA can’t be read without this decoding machinery—a vicious circle, or chicken-and-egg problem. Furthermore, most of these processes use energy, supplied by ATP, produced by the motor ATP synthase (right). But the ATP synthase motor can’t be produced without instructions in the DNA, read by decoding machinery using ATP… a three-way circle, or perhaps an egg-nymph-grasshopper problem.

Why would God make viruses?

wikipedia.org

Lynn-Margulis

Lynn Margulis (1938–2011)

Many viruses have amazing hallmarks of design, such as a powerful electric motor to wind up their DNA (for the ‘normal’ viruses that use DNA).7,8 This points to a Master Designer. However, since God’s finished creation was ‘very good’, why would He create disease germs?

The basic answer is that they were not disease-causing before the Fall, but had beneficial functions. Also, our immune system has suffered the effects of the Curse, so no longer works as well. Note that the immune system would have played an important role even before the Fall in distinguishing ‘self’ from ‘non-self’.

We have previously noted that many parasites are genetically depleted compared to free-living equivalents that can exist without being parasites—see articles under How does biblical Christianity explain the origin of poisons, and pathogenic bacteria and viruses? The leprosy germ is a good example. The form that causes disease, Mycobacterium leprae, has lost more than 2000 genes, about a quarter of its total genome.9 And the famous evolutionist Lynn Margulis (1938–2011) pointed out:

“Both the treponema that cause syphilis and the borrelia that cause Lyme disease contain only a fifth of the genes they need to live on their own. Related spirochetes that can live outside by themselves need 5,000 genes, whereas the spirochetes of those two diseases have only 1,000 genes in their bodies. The 4,000 missing gene products needed for bacterial growth can be supplied by wet, warm human tissue. This is why both the Lyme disease borrelia and syphilis treponema are symbionts—they require another body to survive.”

The same principle applies to viruses: the most harmful viruses seem to have devolved, e.g. the most pathogenic HIV strains are also the least fit (they don’t survive as well as less virulent strains).10 Also, a virus that immobilizes then kills quickly as Ebola does is less ‘fit’ as far as reproductive success is concerned—confined or dead people don’t spread the virus as widely.

But what use could viruses have in a perfect world, since they must hijack a living creature’s reproductive machinery? Some clues to possible benign pre-Fall roles for viruses can be gleaned from functions they have even today. Viruses have a number of useful functions even now, including transporting genes among plants and animals, keeping soil fertile, keeping water clean and regulating gases in the atmosphere.11 They also have a role in killing cancer cells:

“Oncolytic (cancer-killing) viruses—such as adenovirus, vaccinia virus, measles virus, polio virus, herpes simplex virus, vesicular stomatisis virus and reovirus—preferentially infect cancer cells. This is mainly due to their specificity for the abnormal regulation displayed by cancer cells but not found in normal cells.” [10 secular references cited]12

Viruses have a number of useful functions even now, including transporting genes among plants and animals, keeping soil fertile, keeping water clean and regulating gases in the atmosphere.11 They also have a role in killing cancer cells.

In particular, Ebola virus seems to have a symbiotic relationship with fruit bats. Many papers have the obligatory evolutionary slant, but the actual evidence is that bats have more copies of genes that code for DNA repair machinery, and this may be due to a benign role of the virus. Bats benefit by almost never developing tumours, because the repair machinery would correct any damaged genes resulting in the uncontrolled cell reproduction of malignant cancer.13,14

Similarly, consider the deadly H1N1 influenza virus that caused the even more devastating Spanish Flu epidemic around the end of WW1. This killed at least 50 million, or about 3% of the world’s population, many of them young healthy adults. But the virus causes little or no illness in ducks, in which it is a benign symbiont.15,16

Treating Ebola: why and who?

One important biblical principle is: it’s a blessing to alleviate aspects of the Curse. That’s why Jesus healed sicknesses and disabilities, raised the dead, and praised the Good Samaritan for taking care of a badly beaten traveller. And He also berated some for not looking after the poor in Matt. 25:35–45, concluding by saying: “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.

Similarly, biblically-based compassion for those afflicted by effects of the Curse (including man-caused evil) has motivated the founding of orphanages and hospitals, and the abolition of slavery. It’s no wonder that even atheists have acknowledged the beneficial effects of Christianity, one even declaring, “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God”.

Indeed, at the forefront at treating Ebola in Africa was missionary doctor Dr Kent Brantly of Samaritan’s Purse who contracted Ebola but survived after receiving treatment in Atlanta, US. Similarly, one soi-disant atheist, Brian Palmer, writing in a far-left publication, grudgingly admits that Christians are at the forefront at providing care for sick Africans, including Ebola victims:

“Like it or not, though, we are deeply reliant on missionary doctors and nurses. The 2008 ARHAP report found that in some sub-Saharan African countries 30 percent of health care facilities are run by religious entities.”

He previously had to admit that they are hardly doing this for personal gain:

“There’s one other big difference between missionaries and Western merchants: The missionaries don’t profit personally from their work. They are compensated very poorly, if at all. Many risk their lives. How many people would risk death to spread the gospel of Western consumer goods gratis?”

Palmer certainly didn’t delight in the fact of selfless Christians at the forefront: “I still don’t feel good about missionary medicine, even though I can’t fully articulate why.” However, he had to admit that the crumbling of medical care in Africa was possibly because of bigotry against missionary medicine. So he concluded:

“So until we’re finally ready to invest heavily in secular medicine for Africa, I suggest we stand aside and let God do His work.”17

The CDC estimated that 90% of the children who died from influenza last season were not vaccinated.

In contrast, consistent evolutionists must believe that Ebola is just as much a result of evolution as man. Also, they have no basis for believing in the sanctity of innocent human life, made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26–28)—which was not lost at the Fall but just marred (Genesis 9:6, James 3:9). Consistent evolutionism has led to some chilling proposals. In 2006, evolutionary ecologist Eric Pianka presented a talk to the Texas Academy of Science at Lamar University in Beaumont, advocating a reduction of 90% of the human population, including via Ebola. Yet he received a standing ovation. The Christian social commentary and apologetic site The Pearcey Report writes that a supporter of Pianka’s attending the lecture posted the following comment:

“Dr. Pianka’s talk at the TAS meeting was mostly of the problems humans are causing as we rapidly proliferate around the globe … the bulk of his talk was that he’s waiting for the virus that will eventually arise and kill off 90% of human population. In fact, his hope, if you can call it that, is that the ebola virus which attacks humans currently (but only through blood transmission) will mutate with the ebola virus that attacks monkeys airborne to create an airborne ebola virus that attacks humans. He’s a radical thinker, that one! I mean, he’s basically advocating for the death of all but 10% of the current population! And at the risk of sounding just as radical, I think he’s right.”18,19

This just goes to show the misanthropic depths to which some people will sink once they deny the image of God in man. Of course, these population controllers seldom lead by example. The libertarian satirist P.J. O’Rourke noted:

“‘Malthus,’ says Vice President Al Gore in Earth in the Balance, ‘was right in predicting that the population would grow geometrically.’ Al, as the father of four children, should know.”20

Putting Ebola in perspective

Ebola is certainly very deadly. But in the West, so far, there is far more danger of dying from some diseases that are tragically underestimated. For example, influenza is very different from a bad cold, and will almost certainly result in lost work days. Even worse, thousands die in the USA every year from influenza complications: the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate an average of 23,607 deaths per year from 1976 to 2007.21

There are some side-effects and risks for vaccines, the side-effects and risks of non-vaccination—i.e. catching the disease—are usually far worse—influenza, as well as the dreaded diseases of yesteryear such as smallpox, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, measles, …. Thus while vaccines are not 100% ‘safe’, because nothing is, non-vaccination is far from safe as well.

The figures are more certain about the number of children who die from flu, because it has been a nationally notifiable condition since 2004: from the 2003–4 to the 2013–14 seasons, the average is about 113 pediatric (child) flu deaths per season.22

However, unlike Ebola at present, death from influenza is largely preventable. The CDC estimated that 90% of the children who died from influenza last season were not vaccinated. Further, about 40% of the deaths were in previously healthy children. So I and my family always get the ‘flu shot’ almost as soon as it becomes available every year. The reason, as we have explained, is that vaccines consist of dead disease-causing organisms or just parts of them, which gives our immune system ‘target practice’. So if and when it encounters the live pathogen, it is ready for it. So the germ has little chance to multiply to dangerous levels, so we usually don’t develop influenza (not the same as the bad cold many people call ‘the flu’) at all, or get it much less severely. And despite much anti-vax misinformation floating around, vaccines do not have parts of aborted babies, and the so-called poisons are well below a toxic level—the first rule of toxicology is: the dose makes the poison. For example, many people have no problem receiving botox (botulinum) injections for cosmetic purposes. Although this is a deadly toxin in large doses, the small amount used for botox injections poses no harm.

There are some side-effects and risks for vaccines, the side-effects and risks of non-vaccination—i.e. catching the disease—are usually far worse—influenza, as well as the dreaded diseases of yesteryear such as smallpox, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, measles, …. Thus while vaccines are not 100% ‘safe’, because nothing is, non-vaccination is far from safe as well. Of course, there might be some unwelcome side-effects and risks for vaccines. There are risks in driving to work in a car each morning at the hands of other drivers.

Also, at my suggestion, the CMI-US office, following the biblical principle of proper care for workers (Colossians 4:1, Ephesians 6:9), pays for ’flu shots for all employees and their dependent family members, if they choose to obtain them. Our speakers when on ministry are at greater risk than otherwise through shaking dozens of hands of wellwishers at ministry events. We should have a duty of care not to bring the ’flu back to the office to the rest of the staff etc.23

Why the Ebola virus is so deadly

It is not the virus that directly causes the infamous bleeding. Yes, the virus attacks different organs as well as the immune system, but the most serious problem is a severe over-reaction by our own immune system, called a cytokine storm. This causes blood clotting in all the wrong places, called disseminated intravascular coagulation,24 which damages organs such as the liver. Also, this uses up all the blood clotting factors, meaning that clots won’t form where they should, resulting in uncontrollable bleeding.25,26 It’s notable that the deadliest epidemic of Ebola’s fellow negative-sense–RNA virus influenza also caused cytokine storms. This is why the pandemic killed so many previously healthy people—they had the strongest immune systems, and these were turned against them. In the case of influenza, the immune system severely inflamed the patient’s lungs.27

At present there is no cure or vaccine for Ebola. Treatment involves rehydration, pain relief, and pro-coagulants to control bleeding. Also, there is blood transfusion to replace loss, as well as blood plasma from Ebola survivors containing antibodies that could fight the disease. Indeed, Dr Brantly was helped by a 14-year-old former patient’s transfusion, and he has since donated blood plasma to other sufferers.28

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. WHO Ebola Response Team, ‘Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa—The first 9 months of the epidemic and forward projections’, New England Journal of Medicine 371:1481–1495, 16 October 20142014, doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1411100. Return to text.
  2. Ebola Response Roadmap Update, World Health Organization, who.int/en, 10 October 2014. Return to text.
  3. Doucleff, M., No, Seriously, How Contagious Is Ebola?, npr.org, 2 October 2014. Return to text.
  4. The extra hydroxyl group provides a target for chemical attacks. Return to text.
  5. Many skeptics believe that life started with a similar molecule called RNA (ribonucleic acid). But this is even less stable than DNA, and so are its building blocks such as the sugar ribose. Evolutionist John Horgan admits, “But the ‘RNA-world’ hypothesis remains problematic. RNA and its components are difficult to synthesize under the best of circumstances, in a laboratory, let alone under plausible prebiotic conditions. … The RNA world is so dissatisfying that some frustrated scientists are resorting to much more far out—literally—speculation.” (Don’t tell the creationists, but scientists don’t have a clue how life began, Scientific American blogs, blogs.scientificamerican.com, 28 February 2011.) For those interested in chemistry, more chemical problems with ‘RNA World’ ideas can be found at creation.com/rna. Return to text.
  6. Allentoft, M.E. et al., The half-life of DNA in bone: measuring decay kinetics in 158 dated fossils, Proc. Royal Society B 279(1748):4724–4733,7 December 2012. Return to text.
  7. Fuller, D.N. et al., Single phage T4 DNA packaging motors exhibit large force generation, high velocity, and dynamic variability, PNAS 104(43):16868–16873, 23 October 2007. Return to text.
  8. Sarfati, J., Virus has powerful mini-motor to pack up its DNA, J. Creation 22(1):15–16, 2008. See also creation.com/virusmotor. Return to text.
  9. Eiglmeier, K. et al., The decaying genome of Mycobacterium leprae, Lepr. Rev., 72:387–398, 2001. Return to text.
  10. Wodarz, D. and Levy, D.N., Human immunodeficiency virus evolution towards reduced replicative fitness in vivo and the development of AIDS, Proc. Royal Soc. B, 31 July 2007; correction doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.3001, 22 December 2008. Return to text.
  11. See also Bergman, J., Did God make pathogenic viruses? J. Creation 13(1):115–125, 1999, creation.com/viruses. Return to text.
  12. Kim, M., Biological view of viruses: creation vs evolution, J. Creation 20(3):12–13, 2006. Return to text.
  13. Drake, N., Why bats are such good hosts for ebola and other deadly diseases, Wired Science, wired.com, 15 October 2014. Return to text.
  14. Guojie Zhang et al., Comparative Analysis of Bat Genomes Provides Insight into the Evolution of Flight and Immunity, Science 339(6118):456–460, 25 January 2013 | doi: 10.1126/science.1230835. Return to text.
  15. Barber, M.R. et al., Association of RIG-I with innate immunity of ducks to influenza, PNAS 107(13):5913–5918, 2010 | doi: 10.1073/pnas.1001755107. Return to text.
  16. Carter, R.W., and Sanford, J.C., A new look at an old virus: mutation accumulation in the human H1N1 influenza virus since 1918, Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling 9:42, 2012 | doi:10.1186/1742-4682-9-42. A key point is that because of the high reproductive rate and the documented phenomenon of genetic entropy, the influenza virus is degenerating rapidly by accumulating 14.4 new mutations per year. Ebola is likely accumulating 12 pa. It seems that when they leave their proper winged hosts and infect humans, they run out of control and go downhill rapidly because of mutation accumulation, which will lead to their extinction. See also Genetic entropy and simple organisms. Return to text.
  17. Palmer, B., In Medicine We Trust: Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?, slate.com, 2 October 2014. Return to text.
  18. Pearcey, R., Dr ‘Doom’ Pianka Speaks, pearceyreport.com, 6 April 2006. Return to text.
  19. Wieland, C., Doomsday Glee: An astonishing lecture makes sense if you understand the evolutionary framework, creation.com/doomsday-glee, 21 April 2006. Return to text.
  20. O’Rourke, P.J., All the Trouble in the World: The Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Ecological Disaster, Ethnic Hatred, Plague, and Poverty, p. 25, 1995. Return to text.
  21. This was variable: low of 3,349 deaths during the 1986-87 flu season to a high of 48,614 in 2003-04, Estimates of deaths associated with seasonal influenza—United States, 1976–2007, cdc.gov, 27 August 2010. Return to text.
  22. Ianelli, V., Deaths from flu, 2013-2014 flu season, pediatrics.about.com, 14 October 2014. Return to text.
  23. Actually, even apart from the principle of care, it has a sound economic basis: just one or two employees off work for a week would cost the ministry (and thus its supporters) many times more than the cost of flu shots for all. Return to text.
  24. What Is Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation?, US Department of Health and Human Services, nhlbi.nih.gov, accessed 16 October 2014. Return to text.
  25. Jahnke, A., Battling Ebola: how Ebola kills (Q&A with John Connor, researcher at Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories), bu.edu/today, 5 August 2014. Return to text.
  26. Bushak, L., Ebola explained: what happens when one of the world’s deadliest viruses invades your immune system, medicaldaily.com, 7 August 2014. Return to text.
  27. Kash, J.C. et al., Genomic analysis of increased host immune and cell death responses induced by 1918 influenza virus, Nature 443(7111):578–581, 5 October 2008. Return to text.
  28. Lupkin, S., Why blood transfusions from ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly could help patients, abcnews.go.com, 14 October 2014. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Sean V., Australia, 7 November 2014

After reading all the comments above I just have to put my own word in to defend CMI. I think the way that Dr. Sarfati is handling this issue is just another example of the fact that he knows how to THINK through ANY issue using the FACTS on hand. Rather scientific I think. Anyway, thanks and good job guys!

Wendy R., Australia, 5 November 2014

Good onya Gary for stepping in and publicly supporting your staff member (and brother in Christ) from the very personal attacks on his character and intelligence. I have always admired Jonathan’s insightful comments and well-thought out responses as well as his extremely well-written books and am at a real loss as to the way in which some have treated him over this issue. Please convey my (and I’m sure many others) support of Dr Sarfati’s ministry and to him personally as he answers his critics in such a patient and gracious fashion (Not sure what he says in private over some of the incredibly illogical and downright rude comments he receives, but he shows admirable restraint in this public forum :) ) Keep up the good work, all of you, and God's richest blessings on you for your courage in choosing to stand up for what you believe in :)

al S., Canada, 5 November 2014

sorry Johnathan but from your responses to the anti vaccination comments, you sound exactly like the evolutionist combating the creationists "evidence" with their canned responses to the questions. replace the word vaccination with evolution and you would be the typical evolutionist you yourself have debated, it's a wonder you don't recognize the irony in this whole debate taking place.

Gary Bates responds

With respect sir, you say this is ironic but fail to see you have done exactly the same thing yourself that you accused Jonathan of. He spent a great deal of time detailing scientific facts and applied biblical wisdom in the matter. Exactly the same way we do when encountering fallacious evolutionary arguments. And when evolutionists have their long held cherished presuppositions (or beliefs) challenged, they often resort to playing the man and not the ball, also exactly as you have done here. Your comment did not cite any refutation of the points in the article, nor cite anywhere where Jonathan had his facts wrong. Like an evolutionist, I suspect you disagree because your own long held presupposition on this issue has been challenged, and have resorted to an ad hominem invective. It would seem strange that for 35 years we have been at the forefront of helping Christians deal with the issue of evolution and have done so by countering all the pro-evolution rhetoric out there (and most trust us on that) but apparently when encountering anti vaccination urban myths we don't seem to know what we are talking about. Now that would be ironic.

Steve B., United States, 3 November 2014

You state that “vaccines do not have parts of aborted babies” in them, yet the patents themselves, the CDC, FDA, independent researchers, as well as the vaccine manufacturers themselves, all claim otherwise! For example, in the medication insert for MERCK's chicken pox/MMR combo vaccine, which is partially manufactured using aborted fetal cell lines, the following substances are listed in the ingredients—“residual components of MRC-5 cells including DNA and protein”. I suggest you correct your article to reflect these facts.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

This is contrary to credible sources, e.g. Do Vaccines Contain Aborted Fetal Tissue? By Lisa Jo Rudy, Autism Spectrum Disorders Expert

Regarding the MMR vaccine, the CDC states:

The rubella vaccine virus is cultured in human cell-line cultures, and some of these cell lines originated from aborted fetal tissue, obtained from legal abortions in the 1960's. No new fetal tissue is needed to produce cell lines to make these vaccines, now or in the future. Fetal tissue is not used to produce vaccines; cell lines generated from a single fetal tissue source are used; vaccine manufacturers obtain human cell lines from FDA-certified cell banks. After processing, very little, if any, of that tissue remains in the vaccine.

So if there is any tiny residual cellular material in a vaccine, it is from cell lines. Although those cell lines originated in aborted fetal tissue decades ago, there is no aborted fetal tissue itself in the vaccine.

For those who are still uncomfortable with this revelation, it might be helpful to know that the Vatican has actually taken a stand on the issue. The Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life issued a statement in 2005 saying that it is wrong to make vaccines using aborted fetal tissue and that such practices should no longer be employed, however, it is acceptable to use vaccines developed from abortions that were carried out decades ago, because immunizations play a vital role in protecting life by preventing illness and death.

A. J., New Zealand, 2 November 2014

I think a lot of comments on here could come under the title of “how not to witness.” Especially in the case of referencing works of fiction. Jonathan, you have had me in stitches reading your replies!

Now to my experience on vaccinations.

About 2 years ago, I stood on a rusty nail on our empty rural section. I went the the after-hours doctor to get a tetanus shot since it had been a very long time since I had one. There are a few families at church who don't immunise their children, including against tetanus, and after saying I had a tetanus the night before promptly told me of all the times they have trodden on nails and not had a shot. However, an elder at our church, in his 80s, the first thing he said to me when I told him I stood on a nail was “make sure you get a tetanus shot.” When he was in his late teens, his friend got a splinter between his thumb and finger. He was dead a few days later from tetanus. In my experience, opinions on whether to vaccinate or not is whether you’ve ‘researched’ the topic, or experienced the disease. My mother in law, who is not yet 50, remembers seeing people who suffered polio in their youth, and can’t understand how people choose not to vaccinate. The only thing she can come up with is that people don’t remember or know what the disease is really like because people have been vaccinated. Because they were vaccinated we don’t see these diseases as being common anymore and so something to not worry about. I tend to agree.

Bev C., Canada, 2 November 2014

Doesn’t the CDC have a conflict of interest if they are not pro-vax?

Jonathan Sarfati responds

That’s like saying that policemen and judges have a conflict of interest because they are not pro-crime.

D. L., Canada, 2 November 2014

Hi. I have read the comments (pros and cons) about vaccines on this thread. I’m still not comfortable from a biblical perspective to voluntarily multiply disease (and/or fragments of it) in labs to be able to create vaccines. The counter argument might be that the goal is to cause less of the germ in the end, but in my head, that still sounds as bad as, e.g., taking the organs of any unwilling random person on the street to save the lives of 10 persons: the math might work from a secular perspective, but I would still be more comfortable with the death of 10 and the life of one, in that context. I don't get how we could voluntarily multiply a consequence of sin and get away with it. To me, it sounds as good as, e.g., telling a lie to help bring someone to salvation. Even if it would work, it would still not feel right.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

This is simply question-begging: you assume without proof that multiplying disease germs is intrinsically sinful. Actually, it is morally neutral: to multiply them to murder people with disease would be sinful, multiplying them to prevent disease is not, and is an aspect of the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1:28.

Since microbe multiplication is not sinful per se, there is just no comparison with the example of murdering one human to save 10, since murder really is an intrinsic sin. Compare What about abortion to save the mother’s life?

Bev C., Canada, 1 November 2014

Do you think Doctor St Luke would recommend a medical practice if he knew that it risks harming them? Or do you think he’d up hold the “Do no harm” medical vow. I can't find anywhere in the Bible to support “sacrifice the health of some for the health of others.” We are all made in His image.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Yes, Dr St Luke would certainly recommend a medical procedure that has been proven to save millions of lives. He would indeed practise the “Do no harm” medical vow, which means he would strongly oppose the terrible harm-by-omission of vaccination refusal, i.e. suffering from horrible disease from which many die. So he would not support sacrificing the health of millions for the few who react badly to vaccinations. Indeed, as stated above, the best thing we can do for those who can’t be vaccinated is to make sure that those who can be vaccinated are vaccinated. This minimizes the chance that the disease germs will reach the unvaccinated (community or herd immunity).

(Well, I wasn't the one who brought up WWLD ;))

Barry G., Mexico, 1 November 2014

I'm ashamed to read the illogical and antibiblical comments by some Christians here. It seems to be driven by irrational conspiratorial views (that the governments and pharmaceutical companies are out to milk us). Really? I would have thought the costs of people being sick is a bigger drain on public budgets than having healthy people who can pay taxes and contribute to the govt's coffers. In many countries with public health care the govt. foots the bill anyway. But disagreeing with the conspiratorial view makes you a ‘shill’. It shows that something other than logic is driving the emotional comments. And as you’ve demonstrated Jonathan, a lot of the ‘facts’ are not borne out by actual research. And what about the massive health supplement business? I think is more evidence that most supplements are excreted through urine within hours of taking them anyway.

I thought the comments about metals in vaccines were laughable if not so tragic. If someone breaks an arm or a leg I doubt these people would resist having a metal plate inserted in them. Also, I would suggest that there is more mercury in large pelagic fish like tuna, swordfish and shark (commonly just sold as ‘fish’ in a lot of fish and chip shops around the world). The reason we get sick, get cancers etc. and die is because of the Fall. When Jesus came to Earth and healed the sick he displayed God’s love for fallen humanity. His example, should be ours. Anything we can do to reverse the effects of the curse and save millions with vaccines is a good thing. How is one honouring God by not doing otherwise? Do they not strap their children into seat belts believing that God will ‘save’ them in a car accident? I could not live with myself knowing it was preventable. The fact is we will all die eventually due to the curse.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Indeed, we have repeated evidence that anti-vaxers are contributing to the rise of infectious diseases. The following is a recent article by Paul A. Offit, MD, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who also helped develop a life-saving Rotavirus vaccine. It’s also important that these outbreaks are occurring in some of the wealthiest areas of the USA, so lack of sanitation and nutrition can’t be the issue.

The Anti-Vaccination Epidemic

Whooping cough, mumps and measles are making an alarming comeback, thanks to seriously misguided parents

Dr Paul Offit, 24 September 2014

Almost 8,000 cases of pertussis, better known as whooping cough, have been reported to California's Public Health Department so far this year. More than 250 patients have been hospitalized, nearly all of them infants and young children, and 58 have required intensive care. Why is this preventable respiratory infection making a comeback? In no small part thanks to low vaccination rates, as a story earlier this month in the Hollywood Reporter pointed out.

Who is choosing not to vaccinate? The answer is surprising. The area with the most cases of whooping cough in California is Los Angeles County, and no group within that county has lower immunization rates than residents living between Malibu and Marina Del Rey, home to some of the wealthiest and most exclusive suburbs in the country. At the Kabbalah Children's Academy in Beverly Hills, 57% of children are unvaccinated. At the Waldorf Early Childhood Center in Santa Monica, it's 68%, according to the Hollywood Reporter's analysis of public-health data.

These are the kind of immunization rates that can be found in Chad or South Sudan. But parents in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica see vaccines as unnatural—something that conflicts with their healthy lifestyle. And they have no problem finding fringe pediatricians willing to cater to their irrational beliefs.

These parents are almost uniformly highly educated, but they are making an uneducated choice. It's also a dangerous choice: Children not vaccinated against whooping cough are 24 times more likely to catch the disease. Furthermore, about 500,000 people in the U.S. can't be vaccinated, either because they are receiving chemotherapy for cancer or immune-suppressive therapies for chronic diseases, or because they are too young. They depend on those around them to be vaccinated. Otherwise, they are often the first to suffer. And because no vaccine is 100% effective, everyone, even those who are vaccinated, is at some risk.

Parents might consider what has happened in other countries when large numbers of parents chose not to vaccinate their children. Japan, for example, which had virtually eliminated whooping cough by 1974, suffered an anti-vaccine activist movement that caused vaccine rates to fall to 10% in 1976 from 80% in 1974. In 1979, more than 13,000 cases of whooping cough and 41 deaths occurred as a result.

Another problem: We simply don't fear these diseases anymore. My parents' generation—children of the 1920s and 1930s—needed no convincing to vaccinate their children. They saw that whooping cough could kill as many as 8,000 babies a year. You didn't have to convince my generation—children of the 1950s and 1960s—to vaccinate our children. We had many of these diseases, like measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox. But young parents today don't see the effects of vaccine-preventable diseases and they didn't grow up with them. For them, vaccination has become an act of faith.

Offit also wrote a book Autism's False Prophets (2008), refuting claims that vaccination causes autism. And far from being a ‘Big Pharma shill’, he donated the royalties from the book to the Center for Autism Research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I can’t think of any anti-vax leader who has donated any profits from his supplement store to research on autism.

Michael I., United States, 1 November 2014

"They're putting Ebola in the vaccines!" At least that's the statement I heard at work the day after I received my Flu vaccine. That is without a doubt one of the most ridiculous idea's a paranoid human mind has conceived that I've ever heard. I cannot believe some of the comments in this article either. Side effects occur right? Tell me if I am wrong, allergies are a result of the body's intolerance to something. If one in a million people suffers side effects from a vaccine it should be noted as their intolerance to the vaccine or one of it's ingredients. It's peanuts people (or in my case, shellfish) If you cant eat them DON'T. As for everyone else, enjoy! Great article Dr. Sarfati, keep it up and God bless!!!

joe F., Australia, 1 November 2014

Thank you for all with the views and arguments on the subject of vaccines.

I believe that Jonathan Sarfati is genuine with his comments backed up with his research, and anyone judging him with intent to mislead is wrong and has not stopped and think about this! Meaning has let the devil get the better out of you.

It is understandable that people views and believe sometimes can avalanche into a must win argument without thinking!

I saw both views from a scientific point of view and maybe be the other view was suppose to be spiritual!

What I would have liked to read from the non scientific side of the argument, is to say “Some times we have to be Humble and Trust in God with Prayers and Sacrifice.” To Trust God is listening and with his help as all things come from Him, can we try to cope with what confronts us. That means, that people like Jonathan Sarfati, with his prayers and humbleness to God can receive the blessing from God Our Savior the truth and knowledge that we need.

So too, others like me that do not study these scientific issues, and also science belongs to God! should be praying to God to Trust in Him to help people like J.S. and CMI, to be guided by our creator Lord and Savior, AMEN.

Ryan D., United States, 31 October 2014

After reading some of the comments and especially the accusations that vaccines aren’t biblical or that we shouldn’t need to help our immune system I felt it was worth commenting. I think it can safely be argued that all of medical science only exists because of the Fall. Without the fall there would have been no sickness, no pain, no abnormalities etc. Medical science exists entirely to deal with consequences of the Fall.

How then does this make medical science biblical? Well the Bible tells use to seek the advice of doctors, to take some wine for an upset stomach, and much of the New Testament was written by a doctor. God is telling us to alleviate the effects of the Fall through the proper use of medicine. We don’t say doctors implanting foreign objects in us when we break bones or have heart problems is unbiblical and we shouldn’t say the same for vaccines. As long as we have good science saying they are safe we should use them.

I wanted to thank you for this article Dr. Sarfati. You convinced me to get flu shots from now on. I always figured my immune system seemed fine so why bother but not anymore. Keep up the great work.

Kara H., Canada, 31 October 2014

I would have to say after reading all the comments and replies that I am quite disappointed in the way others are so ready and willing to write someone off because of their position on vaccinations. I have heard both arguments before. I went to my doctor who was also a Christian and asked his opinion. He said the same as you—much less risk in vaccinating than not. (I was already vaccinating, but wondering if I should continue) I also know another Christian (a close friend of mine), a pharmacist. He vaccinates his kids—not sure about flu though. He has studied these and knows what is in them.

I go to those I know I can trust for my information—not some internet site of groups or people I don’t know and have never met (I need to know their credibility).

We have never taken any flu shots, but since moving to the rural area we are not sick nearly as often as when we lived in the city. But I do know others who do take flu shots, and I do not fault anyone for doing so or not doing so.

Jonathan, you have as much right to your say as anyone else and I thank you for the challenge to think critically about everything. I have been given some more to think about.

I have read several of your books (with a dictionary by my side of course;)), and have enjoyed and learned from them.

EDYTHE B., Canada, 31 October 2014

As an RN I have had all of my six children follow the immunization regimen and have, with one in particular, experienced a terrible side effect following immunization.

Jonathan Sarfati responds: Sorry to hear that. This does happen rarely. But this is all the more reason why those who don't experience side-effects should be vaccinated.

One of the anti-vax canards is:

‘If vaccination is so effective, why should your vaccinated kid be worried by my non-vaccinated kid?’

Answer: as anti-vaxers themselves love to point out, vaccines are not 100% effective, so it is still a good idea to lessen the chance of exposure to the live germs. Also, some kids in the community, and elderly people, can't be vaccinated because of bad reactions or compromised immune systems, so they really would be in danger if your unvaccinated kid is a carrier of the germs.

EB: She screamed for 5 days with small 20–30 minute sleep breaks.

JS: Certainly distressing for the child as well as her parents. However, there are plenty of stories of far worse from unvaccinated kids who get the disease. For instance, in an article already cited, Growing Up Unvaccinated:

Most importantly, I want the anti-vaxxers to see that knowingly exposing your child to illness is cruel. Even without complications, these diseases aren’t exactly pleasant. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy watching children suffer even with a cold or a hurt knee. If you’ve never had these illnesses, you don’t know how awful they are. I do. Pain, discomfort, the inability to breathe or to eat or to swallow, fever and nightmares, itching all over your body so much that you can’t stand lying on bedsheets, losing so much weight you can’t walk properly, diarrhea that leaves you lying prostrate on the bathroom floor, the unpaid time off work for parents, the quarantine, missing school, missing parties, the worry, the sleepless nights, the sweat, the tears, the blood, the midnight visits to the emergency room, the time sitting in a doctor’s waiting room on your own because no one will sit near you because they’re rightfully scared of those spots all over your face.

As an RN, it's likely that your own hospital requires you to be up-to-date with your vaccinations, including the annual flu shot. This is cetainly true of the hospital where family of several CMI–US staffers work. OK, a hospital employee might complain about his or her individual rights being violated, but if I became a patient, I would likewise assert my individual right not to be seen by an unvaccinated RN or doctor.

EB: I have a sister-in-law who took H1N1 vaccine while pregnant and now has an autistic child.

JS: Again, very sorry about the autism, but this does not mean the H1N1 vaccine caused it. As already cited, Flu Shot During Pregnancy Produces Unexpected Benefits, including much less chance of the baby being born underweight or being stillborn.

EB: I know my experience is not enough evidence but it does make me stop and consider. What I do know for sure is that there is a disconcerting trend out there for vaccines to be our saviour.

JS: But our real Saviour uses means to achieve His ends. Why couldn't vaccines be one of His means. I'm reminded of this old parable:

A very religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbour came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”

“No thanks,” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.”

A short time later the police came by in a boat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”

“No thanks,” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.”

A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”

“No thanks,” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.”

All this time the floodwaters continued to rise, until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived at heaven he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”

“Yes you did my child,” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in.”

EB: We are taking vaccines for so much more than we used to and you have to wonder why?

JS: I don't wonder: it is that they are largely safe an effective at preventing diseases that used to kill multitudes.

EB: Even with this fallen world we are still blessed with an amazing immunity by God.

JS: Yet it's very plain that this amazing immunity has been insufficient in this fallen world to prevent millions of deaths from diseases like smallpox and even influenza, and millions more disabled from polio.

EB: When my children were offered the chicken pox vaccine at the time of other vaccines I refused.

JS: I would advise against this, because chicken pox can have complications. As I replied to a comment on my earlier article Vaccines and abortion?:

Even chickenpox has dangers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • A person who has had chickenpox can get a painful [and scarring] rash called shingles years later [because the virus lies dormant in nerve cell bodies for years, but for some reason is re-activated and travels down the nerves to infect the skin near the nerve endings. It’s even worse when it affects nerves of the ear or eye].
  • Before the vaccine, about 11,000 people were hospitalized for chickenpox each year in the United States.
  • Before the vaccine, about 100 people died each year as a result of chickenpox in the United States. [They were usually healthy before contracting the disease.]

EB: When my girls in grade five were offered the HPV vaccine I refused.

JS: That is more defensible, since that protects against a disease that won't affect virgins. But the Gardasil vaccine doesn't even contain the mercury that many anti-vaxers are worried about.

Update, 2016: I retract this comment (the first sentence, not the second), with more information about both the safety of the vaccine and the danger of the disease. HPV can affect virgins. Also, even though it’s a terrible thing to think about, what if they were raped by someone HPV-positive? Even the moral hazard argument is unsound—we don't want our kids to have sex before marriage, but if they make a mistake, do we want them punished with HPV or cervical cancer? And, since one does not need to have intercourse to get HPV, shouldn't we do everything to protect them, regardless? I recommend Questioning Whether To Get Your Child the HPV Vaccine? Read This.

EB: I think we need to research and think about each one that is being offered because as helpful as vaccines are there is a dangerous trend out there too.

JS: Sure, but not all research is equal—as George Orwell would say, some research is more equal than others ;)

Andrew B., United Kingdom, 31 October 2014

Sorry Jonathan but you have have not presented any empirical evidence to refute my claims while using such sloppy pseudo science as the CDC says so. Their are many studies that show how useless the Flu vaccine is and you refuse to look at any new evidence that goes against your belief in the vaccine.

The fact that 90% of people who die from flu may not have had the vaccine tells us nothing about the Flu vaccines effectiveness or that a flu vaccine would have saved their lives as this is the fallacy of confusing correlation with causation.

We have mumps outbreaks in the UK where 92% of the affected were fully vaccinated so i can play this game too. Same with whooping cough where most cases are in the vaccinated.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

More assertions here. Of course, while evolution is contrary to Scripture, vaccination is not. Yet somehow, support for this has been treated as though it were a heresy in some circles. One unpublished comment include the charming, “shame you weren't around during Hitler's reign.” This reductio ad Hitlerem fallacy is a very classy tactic to pull on an ethnically Jewish writer.

Indeed, correlation does not imply causation—we leave that to the ‘vaccines cause autism’ crowd. But the argument is not just correlation: rather, vaccination arose from the observation that catching a disease like smallpox, or a similar disease like cowpox (vacca = Latin for cow) conferred immunity to smallpox. So our immune systems can be trained to recognize certain diseases. So why not train them in exactly the same way, but without getting the nasty and sometimes lethal side effect of the disease?

Bottom line: To say that vaccines are ineffective is to say that our immune system is untrainable.

Another support in favour of causation is that other variables such as sanitation and nutrition have been controlled for. As above, if it were those other factors, then we should see a general decline of disease more or less simultaneously, rather than the close correlations with the introduction of vaccines, as well as the converse: flare-ups where anti-vax sentiment is on the rise.

As for the mumps statistics, that really is a game you are playing, because it doesn't weight the figures according to the percentages of people who were vaccinated against mumps.

To illustrate: suppose that in an outbreak, there were 100 cases of mumps, and 92 of them were vaccinated and 8 were not, to match your figures. But what was not said was, say, this was from a sample of 10,000, of whom 98% were vaccinated, i.e. 9800 people were vaccinated and 200 were not. So in reality, the properly weighted percentages were 92/9800 = 0.94% incidence of mumps in the vaccinated people, and 8/200 = 4% in non-vaccinated people. So these statistics, when properly understood, show that there is over 4 times the likelihood of getting mumps when non-vaccinated.

However, real-world stats show that the chance is even higher than that. E.g. with measles, “[vaccine] exemptors were 35 times more likely to contract measles than were vaccinated persons (95% confidence interval …)”—Salmon, D.A., Health consequences of religious and philosophical exemptions from immunization laws: individual and societal risk of measles, Journal of the American Medical Association 282(1):47–53, 7 July 1999.

T. K., United States, 31 October 2014

Thank you for this well written article.

Personally, I have done quite a bit of research regarding efficacy, safety, and necessity of vaccines, especially for my children. One thing that I learned was that my young children(under age two) where statistically more likely to be hospitalized and die from the ‘flu’ than hepatitis B, for example.

We have chosen to vaccinate our children, we changed the order and time that they received them, but the flu shot was always at the top of our list. I strive to be educated and biblically sound when approaching such issues. Thank you for not avoiding this hotly debated topic.

A. D., Canada, 31 October 2014

Appreciate your thorough explanations here regarding viruses.

Being a parent of children who had serious reactions to vaccines—I hesitate to see vaccines as the answer. My understanding before any vaccine can be safely administered, the gut health of mother and child should be tested. Any info on that?

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Since I am not a medical doctor, I cannot give medical advice specific to a questioner, just general recommendations to get vaccinated if possible. So I strongly advise that you consult your own doctor about your question.

Lindsay S., Australia, 31 October 2014

Thank you Jonathan for your patient and excellent responses to misinformed fellow Christians. I have a few friends (also our clinic’s patients as we are in a small Regional centre), who are anti vaccination and have similarly resisted any attempts of mine at reassurance. It’s remarkable, they (non medical), after research on the internet, conclude they know better on this one issue when they entrust us with all else in their medical care.

I wonder which you find it more difficult,playing 40 people at a time in chess as I have seen you so successfully do several years ago,or responding calmly to your sceptics here!

My wife and I are shortly joining a Christian medical mission organisation in Africa with 450 staff. Coincidentally, in my emails today is another pre placement enquiry ensuring my Measle Mumps Rubella booster has been given!

Kindest regards, Lindsay Sherriff BMBS,DORACOG,DCH,DA,FRACGP,FRACRRM

Chris H., Australia, 30 October 2014

Some points that I find "do not add up":

1. Tetanus is rife in parts of certain continents eg continental USA, Asia. Now tetanus can be measured in my local soil, yet I and many others are not vaccinated, and we do mess with rusty iron in the soil and compost heaps (taking care), yet we do not have tetanus cases here, exception being a case of someone who was from overseas (presumably recently). I was told this by a local hospital pediatrician.

There are many other specific situations that beg the question of the transparency of the vaccination/wholistic health debate. Whatever the merits of vaccination, I believe there is a strong case of increased responsibility and accountability of those who adminster them. Think expiration dates, actual contents, strains targetted vs those present, etc

I believe vaccination should not be accepted unquestionably, as per the above article.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

I must apparently take your word for your points, which are contradicted by studies.

While someone compared being vaccinated with playing Russian Roulette, in reality, refusing tetanus shots is doing just that. Anti-vaxers worry about the tiny amounts of mercury-containing thiomersal in some, but not all, vaccines, although “The animals appeared to tolerate significant doses—up to 20 mg per kg body weight in rabbits and still higher in rats—without apparent injury.

But the tetanospasmin produced by the tetanus bacterium Clostridium tetani is far more dangerous at a dose seven orders of magnitude smaller—LD50 of about 3 nanograms per kilogram of body weight. To add insult to the considerable injury, the amount of toxin that produces the severe disease with intense muscle spasms is too tiny to produce an immune response. Fortunately, the disease has almost been eliminated in the west after tetanus toxoid vaccine was developed.

So I would counter that much anti-vax propaganda has been accepted far too uncritically. At CMI, we care about our supporters’ lives and health, which is why I was asked to write such an article.

Juanita H., United States, 30 October 2014

Excellent article. Well written. Can't go wrong with facts. Thank you so much for sharing.

Steve M., United Kingdom, 30 October 2014

Dr Sarfati, what an excellent, patient contribution. I haven’t stumbled across one of your articles for a few years now and am so pleased to see you, by the Lord’s grace, going strong on the battle front.

Glen F., Canada, 30 October 2014

Amidst all the anti-vaccine comments, thought you’d like to know that you convinced me to get my flu shot yesterday! I read your article, and some of the others linked off it, and (as usual) your arguments made a lot of sense.

I’ve kind of been on the fence for years—hearing the rhetoric and never taking the time to research the issue myself, I always just let it slide. And rationalized that I’m reasonably healthly/strong immune system so didn’t really need it. One of the deciding factors was finding out that a strong immune system can actually be detrimental—when the virus turns it against you! That and pointing out the foolishness of thinking my immune system could handle the flu, but not the vaccine.

Andrew B., United Kingdom, 30 October 2014

It's sad to see such sloppy one sided "science" coming from this Ministry that totally trusts such statements from the CDC such as their "estimates"

Jonathan Sarfati responds: This was well known quite aside from the CDC: that the vast majority of those who suffer from infectious diseases like measles and influenza are not vaccinated. See also Vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing disease by creationist scientist Dr Jay Wile (off-site). We also have plenty of examples of the converse: diseases flaring up where anti-vax agitprop has been widely followed, such as measles outbreaks just last year affecting places where misguided religious leaders have been critical of vaccination—see More consequences of anti-vaccination misinformation.

AB: but ignores facts from the Cochrane Studies

JS: But why should we accept facts from such an organization? In any case, one of their studies cancels out a lot of the objections about whether vaccines are harmful:

The administration of seasonal inactivated influenza vaccine is not associated with the onset of multiple sclerosis, optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve of the eye) or immune thrombocytopaenic purpura (a disease that affects blood platelets). The administration of pandemic monovalent H1N1 inactivated vaccine is not associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome (a disease that affects the nerves of the limbs and body).

AB: that show the Flu vaccine to worthless for healthy people and conclude it’s more about marketing than actual hard science.

JS: The ‘marketing’ claim has been amply addressed above. There is not that much money for doctors to give flu shots, and ‘Big Pharma’ can make far more money curing illnesses that require hospitalization rather than preventing them, and many anti-vax sites have their own profit motive in their huge array of supplements they promote.

AB: What is your reasoning for following the world’s bad science based on induction and affirming the consequent for vaccines and not for Evolution. It simply is not rational.

JS: Yes it is, because we were arguing on the balance of probabilities—what were your sources doing?

AB: This Ministry seems to be far more interested in seeking Honors and Credibility from the world by following the World and it's fallacious pseudo science

JS: I suppose the World just loves biblical (‘young-earth’) creation and we are just following this crowd ;)

Of course, you have not demonstrated that vaccination is contrary to Scripture, as evolution and billions of years are.

AB: than in the truth or even bothering to investigate both sides of an argument

JS: As shown, we have. The same seems not to be true of our opponents.

AB: before having total belief in what you presented with by the same people who deny God and worship Evolution.

JS: As pointed out, vaccination was pioneered by a creationist, Louis Pasteur, and widely supported by creationists today. Evolution had no role in developing vaccination. See also The data in support of vaccines are nothing like the ‘data’ that supposedly support evolution by Dr Wile.

For the other side, it’s notable that anti-vax sentiments are rife among the extreme secular left, as documented in Science Left Behind 2014: The Anti-Vaccination Update—hardly a creationist-friendly site, so this is a classic ‘admission against interest’.

E. K., Sweden, 30 October 2014

To take a flu vaccine and never have the flu is not prove. I never take a flu vaccine and I also don't have the flu. It is example but neither proves anything.

To know if vaccines work you would have to compare large groups of people in similar living conditions and collect figures of how many people get sick and what there living conditions are and if they where vaccinated or not and if they where in contact with the disease.

I think there is a lot of assumptions on both sides.

I personally do not vaccinate because vaccine and many medication is tested on animals and I refuse to use as much as I can anything tested on animals or benefit companies that use testing on animals. So I avoid buying their products.

A lot of our know-how is based on animal testing.

Also medical companies abuse their power by selling bad medicine in poor countries therefore I do not want to use their medicines as long as they do not take their responsibility. Nor can I trust them.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

As shown above, medical scientists have done just what you demand: large studies of vaccinated and non-vaccinated people, showing that the latter are far more likely to contract the disease; and before that, how the introduction of vaccines correlates with sharp drops in incidences of the diseases, and that resurgences of these disease likewise correlates with rise in refusals to vaccinate. So I would concur with fellow creationist scientist Dr Jay Wile—Vaccines: one of the greatest medical advances God has allowed us to discover (off-site).

Animal testing: we should carefully differentiate ‘animal welfare’ from ‘animal rights’. Note that anti-slavery activist William Wilberforce also founded the ‘Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’, which is animal welfare. It is a totally different issue to grant rights to animals, because animals are not made in God’s image, while humans are. So I will not refuse a life-saving product for me or my loved ones because some animals have allegedly been killed.

The last is an unsupported assertion, which really is its own refutation: companies would surely make far more money in rich countries than poor ones, since the former are more likely to be able to pay more. The facts bear this out, according to economist Dr Thomas Sowell:

Whether domestically or internationally, investors looking for the highest rates of return usually steer clear of poor areas and put their money where there are people with more advanced skills, living in more prosperous countries, even if they have to pay much higher salaries in such countries.

The United States, for example, has long invested more in Canada than in all of poverty-stricken sub-Saharan Africa, where wage rates are a fraction of Canadian wage rates. If the facts mattered—and if the poor really mattered to their supposed saviors—the implications of that would have been understood long ago.

H. G., Australia, 30 October 2014

Wow, lots of unnecessary responds. I believe Dr Sarfati already mentioned that the vaccine is not without side effects. However, generally it is considered more beneficial to have the vaccine than not. By the way, the GP that I used to go to does not charge for the vaccine and she also does bulk billing. So, to accuse that GPs are profitering from vaccines is ridiculous. (She recommends vaccination by the way.)

Damien S., Australia, 29 October 2014

As suspected, it appears that Sandra D. denies that thousands of people are dying in Africa from the ebola virus. Does she also deny that the holocaust ever happened?

Sandra D., United States, 27 October 2014

AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists): “For instance, in most areas of West Africa, antibiotics are commonly sold as over-the-counter medications.”

TWN (Third World Network): “…a survey carried out in 1999 showed that nearly one out of two antidiarrheal products in Third World countries contained an unnecessary antibiotic [and chronic diarrhea in the Third World is a leading cause of death, so you can be sure that these antidiarrheal drugs are consumed in great quantities].

“…75 products (including some antibiotics) which had been pulled out or banned in one or more European countries were identified in the Third World in 1991.”

Of course, banned antibiotics would be exceptionally toxic.

In West Africa, antibiotic use is sky-high…and antibiotics do cause bleeding.

Bleeding where? In the digestive tract.

In light of that, consider the following excerpt from the healthgrades.com article, “What is vomiting blood?”

“Vomiting blood indicates the presence of bleeding in the digestive tract…

“Vomiting blood may be caused by many different conditions, and the severity varies among individuals. The material vomited may be bright red or it may be dark colored like coffee grounds…”

Yes, it turns out that any source of internal bleeding in the digestive tract—such as overuse of antibiotics—can cause a person to vomit blood.

“The uniqueness” of “Ebola-blood-vomiting” is a fairy tale.

What else could cause the “Ebola” bleeding symptom in West Africa?

Jonathan Sarfati responds

None of the actual quotes about antibiotics shows that they could have been the cause of the Ebola symptoms. Also, since the dates are from a long time ago, last millennium, one must wonder why the Ebola symptoms are manifesting now. And how could these symptoms be transmissible to people like Western missionary doctors who don't over-use antibiotics? How come the Ebola virus has been isolated from Ebola patients, and we have a good idea of the mechanism of the disease: attacking the immune system.

Sandra D., United States, 27 October 2014

These poisons are conconcted with substances like aborted fetal cells, mercury, aluminum, rat poison, and other toxic substances. And they are ‘concocted’ merely so that a patent can be obtained on them because, so far, (though the FDA is changing that) you cannot patent what occurs in nature.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Claims like ‘vaccines use aborted baby parts’ seem to be reminiscent of the medieval ‘Blood Libel’, where antisemites falsely accused Jews of murdering Christian children and using their blood in religious rituals. Nazi and modern Islamist propaganda resorted to this lie as a pretext to justify their hatred of Jews. However, way back in 1247, Pope Innocent IV (1195-1254) prohibited anyone “to accuse any Jew of using human blood in their rites, since it is clear in the Old Testament that it is forbidden to them to consume any blood, let alone the blood of humans.” A similar false accusation against vaccines is used to justify hatred of them. (See, I can make tenuous connections as well as my opponents can, if I choose to ;), although of course hating of a thing is not evil per se unlike hatred of a people.)

Sandra D., United States, 27 October 2014

“But worshipping the goddesses of Natura and Supplementia is OK?” Lol! You didn't really say that did you?

Jonathan Sarfati responds: Yes I did really say that. Note that it was in reply to someone who even questioned my Christianity (by using scare quotes around the word Christian) and accused me of a form of idolatry (worshipping Pharmakeia).

SD: Do you mean worshipping what God has provided in nature to cure disease?

JS: No more than worshipping the wisdom that God has provided to physicians who developed vaccines, including the creationist Pasteur. I'm still not sure why we are restricted to ‘natural’ means to cure diseases, when ‘nature’ is also the source of many of them.

Raymond R., United States, 27 October 2014

Dear Dr. Sarfati and CMI,

Thank you for the article and for taking the time to easily refute the vast amounts of [fallacious] comments made by several others posting in the comments. There’re those that are blind, and then there’re those that don’t want to see. Well, ignorance has to be corrected one way or another and, I think, you guys have made an amazing display of patience with some of them. Wishing there was a vaccine to make people understand the basics of how our currently broken world works.

To those that would like to start, or continue, making uninformed, baseless, and [fallacious] assertions about those who disagree with them, please do continue to submit comments if you’d like to keep publicly embarrassing yourselves, but at the very least, keep the following in mind before you do (re-applied from a slightly different context) [from Augustine]:

Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing … to hear a Christian … talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, … are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. … Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when … ‘they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion’.

We already have our hands full with the ToE, compromisers like Dr. Ross, Craig, et al. I guess I’m now part of the ‘conspiracy’; I’d at least like to see a coffee come out of those $23 toddler shots. ;)

Shooey M., United States, 27 October 2014

Sorry, where did I mention "alternative" medicine? God is our healer. Period. He also created the things we consume for our benefit. Man made Pharmakeia, an attempt to improve upon what God can do. Bad idea. Always. …

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Ironically written by someone using a computer and the Internet ;)

Ian N., Australia, 27 October 2014

One thing that is helping to spread the disease is the lack of proper hygiene in the region and the reliance of superstition and tribal medicine. The fact that according to Islamic teachings that the dead body needs to be washed, so they can enter heaven, makes it a perfect way of spreading the disease, since a dead person will have the most virulent form of the disease and touching a dead body should not be done like that. This is in comparison to the teachings of the Bible where such people would be isolated and be unclean. Looks like the Bible understood such the foundation of illness and made sure that people should follow. Yet again the Bible was ahead of the curve.

Jericho M., Philippines, 27 October 2014

the article and the author's reply in the comments section are equally informative! haha thanks CMI! :)

Shoooey M., United States, 27 October 2014

This article is absolutely rife with propaganda and disinformation, which is the greatest of shames coming from a "Christian" source.

We need to stop the worship of the gods of Pharmakeia, Christians. It's an abominable shame to the Name of our Creator before the world.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

But worshipping the goddesses of Natura and Supplementia is OK?

Dave B., Australia, 27 October 2014

So I wonder if after Dr. Pianka’s talk, if he and those that just gave him a standing ovation were offered an ebola shot (to contract the disease not immunise against it), would there be a 90% take it rate?

john P., Australia, 27 October 2014

A great article. One wonders how much worse diseases would be if there were no vaccines. I always get a flu shot every year and have for the last 20 and have never got the flu since doing so. I would say that air conditioners, especially in large city offices, can spread the germs, viruses and allergens around the building and I know a case where someone died of legionnaires disease after inspecting the aircon—about 25 years ago. I worked in an office for 24 years and was always sick but since that time have been in much better health.

We need vaccinations and antibiotics as controls and hopefully cures—I would never dodge a vaccine. Incidentally, when I tried echinacea around fifteen years ago, it triggered an allergic reaction in me, I am allergic to one of the mycins too but generally have no problems with antibiotics.

In any case God is the Great Physician as well and is in control of all medicines as well. As for ebola being a scare tactic as someone said, hardly likely—by doing nothing about these epidemics they will spread and possibly mutate and you end up with something far worse than the black plague.

Linda E., United States, 26 October 2014

Thanks, Dr. Sarfati. You always come through with great information.

Bev C., Canada, 26 October 2014

A Facebook page dedicated to the children and families who have been affected by vaccines.

[Link deleted as per feedback rules]

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Even at the best of times, we don't publish outside links in feedback, because we can't monitor or vouch for their accuracy. In the case of a FB page, we have no proof that vaccines really caused the claimed harm. Refer to my earlier response about the widespread post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Also, some parents understandably look for someone or something to blame for their children’s illness, but in this fallen world, sometimes bad things happen which are neither the fault of the parents nor of the medics.

Another problem is what I said in the article: there is no such thing as 100% safety for anything. In this fallen world, there are no solutions, just trade-offs. So even if only there were one chance in a million of a bad side-effect, say, it would be possible to find a few unfortunate kids to put on FB. But it is known that measles has a one chance in 10 of ear infection, one in 20 of pneumonia, and one in a thousand of encephalitis, leading to about 1–2 children in a thousand dying from measles.

This means that it would be far easier to make a FB page of victims of non-vaccination. And to protect those kids (or elderly) who can't be vaccinated because of allergies or compromised immune system, I would suggest it would be good to minimize their chances of exposure to nasty diseases. This would be best achieved if those of us who don't suffer bad side effects are vaccinated, providing community immunity by depriving the pathogens of a way to get to the non-immunized.

Dr. Torree McGowan, MD, a mother of two little boys who are vaccinated, says in The Consequences of Refusing Vaccines:

This disparity in how children are evaluated in the ER is based on very basic differences in how high of a risk children are at for invasive bacterial infections. For children who are unvaccinated, some estimates as high as 5-8%* of them have a serious infection in their bloodstream (bacteremia) or around their brain (meningitis). For children who are fully vaccinated, the risk of bloodstream and brain infections is less than 0.001%.

I fully support parents’ rights to choose not to vaccinate, but there are consequences to that decision. I have had many conversations with parents in the middle of the night when their child has a fever and had to explain to them that because of their decision to not vaccinate, research indicates that their child is at a significantly increased risk for life-threatening diseases, and so will need invasive testing in the ER. It will take hours, and it will hurt their child. I tell them that the diseases we vaccinate against aren’t just nuisances; they kill and maim children every day, and they are almost completely preventable by vaccination.

David S., United States, 26 October 2014

I don't normally comment on the articles but I see a lot of backlash on Dr Sarfati for his positive views on vaccines. While I may not share a totally positive view on vaccinations I will admit the issue isn't black and white and I certainly think its uncalled for to label Jon as a pro-vax paid shill.

To put forward senseless accusations against CMI on this is silly.

In any case great work on the article and putting forth evidence that viruses too served a purpose in the very good creation before the fall.

May CMI continues to use all things for the glory of God 2 Corinthians 10:5

Great article doc, keep up the good work yom tov

Valerie R., United States, 26 October 2014

Couldn’t the viruses been ‘designed’ by Satan and evil spirits? The Bible says that disease and pestilences are brought by demons and unclean spirits. Maybe they corrupted the first design of the viruses.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

The Bible doesn’t say that all diseases are demonic in origin. There are some cases, e.g. Satan afflicting Job with nasty things including disease, but that needed special permission from God. So it seems more likely that the Fall and the resulting Curse should be the default explanation.

Damien S., Australia, 26 October 2014

I can't believe the people attacking Jonathan over this article with absurd (conspiracy theory) claims about vaccines. I'm surprised that these people are not evolutionists given the gullibility they have shown in sprouting such views. C.B. of South Africa, in particular, has shown a lack of understanding of the significance of The Fall in the state of the world. So how does such a lack of understanding comprehend the significance of theistic evolution, yet C.B. claims to normally love CMI's articles. … How does Sandra D. of the U.S.A. explain the numbers of deaths in Africa from Ebola? Or does she deny that it is actually happening?

Bev C., Canada, 26 October 2014

I've written you 2 messages now. I'm reading the comments, and see that you have addressed some of that I said. I don't want to wear you out, re-answering, because I do appreciate your views on creation! Thank you for that.

Colin T., New Zealand, 26 October 2014

Anyone getting their children immunised at all should also let them play Russian roulette with live bullets. Its well proven to be a complete have and I feel sorry for all those who allow toxic material to bypass their GOD given immune system. Wake up or next thing youll receive is a mark to identify you. Step outside the box and refuse to follow the masses to their end.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Exposing children to live germs before dead germs is really playing Russian Roulette. And once again, apparently our God-given immune system is robust enough to handle the nastiest disease germs, but too delicate to handle the dead ones.

For another perspective, see Growing Up Unvaccinated:

I had the healthiest childhood imaginable. And yet I was sick all the time.

By Amy Parker:

As healthy as my lifestyle seemed, I contracted measles, mumps, rubella, a type of viral meningitis, scarlatina, whooping cough, yearly tonsillitis, and chickenpox. In my 20s I got precancerous HPV and spent six months of my life wondering how I was going to tell my two children under the age of 7 that Mummy might have cancer before it was safely removed.

So the anti-vaccine advocates’ fears of having the “natural immunity sterilized out of us” just doesn’t cut it for me. How could I, with my idyllic childhood and my amazing health food, get so freaking ill all the time?

My two vaccinated children, on the other hand, have rarely been ill, have had antibiotics maybe twice in their lives, if that. Not like their mum. I got many illnesses requiring treatment with antibiotics.

If you think your child’s immune system is strong enough to fight off vaccine-preventable diseases, then it’s strong enough to fight off the tiny amounts of dead or weakened pathogens present in any of the vaccines.

But not everyone around you is that strong, not everyone has a choice, not everyone can fight those illnesses, and not everyone can be vaccinated. If you have a healthy child, then your healthy child can cope with vaccines and can care about those unhealthy children who can’t.

Sandra D., United States, 26 October 2014

Well, Jonathon, interesting straw-man argument you used that thousands or whatever number you used, of clinicians and other medical workers would have to be involved in a ‘conspiracy’.

No, they don't have to involved in any ‘conspiracy’, they just have to be brainwashed like the rest of those who believe in vaccines,

Jonathan Sarfati responds: Here’s another idea: physicians noticed that in some cases, people who had an illness were immune from catching it again. So they thought, wouldn’t it be great if people could get exactly the same immunity but without the maiming or even lethal side-effect of the disease? How about: instead of exposing people to live germs, they were exposed to dead ones instead?

SD: when there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of natural remedies for not only ebola, but every other infectious disease.

JS: I don’t care much for the distinction between natural and artificial remedies. As explained above, the Fall means that natural is not always good (botulism is perfectly natural). The only distinction that matters is what has been proven to work and what hasn’t.

SD: You may want to know that this profuse ‘bleeding’ which doctors say is indicative of ebola, also occurs in people with very compromised immune systems who take antibiotics.

JS: OK, then we should have evidence that all Ebola patients have taken antibiotics (which by the way are often natural because they come from moulds like Penicillium which are certainly natural). Also, we should find evidence of such profuse bleeding in Western patients who take antibiotics. It is also hard to explain why Ebola patients always have Ebola virus

SD: Since the African continent is literally being flooded

JS: The only defense against a literal flood is a literal Ark ;)

SD: with Western medicines to treat AIDS and now Ebola, it makes perfect common sense, that many of these cases attributed to ‘ebola’, may just be from the use of antibiotics.

JS: But then why are they not found in the USA, which has far more over-use of antibiotics? That is, except from people who have had contact with Ebola sufferers. This shows that there is an infectious agent, because we can’t catch antibiotics from someone who takes them.

SD: But, once again, tear down the straw-man argument about massive numbers of people having to be involved in some ‘conspiracy’. It is a ridiculous argument and one premise does not follow the other.

JS: The mass-brainwashing idea is equally ridiculous. It would imply that physicians old enough to remember iron lung ward and tetanus victims in pre-vaccination days somehow are missing huge damages from vaccinations.

C. B., South Africa, 25 October 2014

Thank you for the reply.

1) Give me the biblical basis where God needs our help with His (now) broken design of the body with our ‘clever’ vaccines?

Jonathan Sarfati replies: I would refer to you to ministerial and magisterial use of science, e.g. in Biblical history and the role of science. But what I don't understand with this and many other anti-vax arguments is the two contradictory claims about our immune system: apparently our immune system is so strong that it can fight off legions of rapidly multiplying live germs, but it is simultaneously so fragile that a few fragments of dead germs will overwhelm it. Reminds me of the self-contradictory arguments that atheopaths have used against Christianity and biblical creation (see The illogic of anti-creationism).

We should also note that if you were consistent, you shouldn’t take care of any broken skin, because why does God need our help to wash and dress wounds given that the immune system He designed can manage without our help? Nor should we apply plasters or stitches to bleeding wounds, because God created Adam with a perfect blood-clotting system that doesn't need our clever help.

Also, since God gave Adam perfect eyesight, then you shouldn’t wear glasses, since why does God need our help with His (now) broken design of the eyes with our ‘clever’ refractive aids?

CB: 2) Tell me how you feel when He said “ it is finished” on the cross He meant you still need to help Him with vaccines to complete the immune system?

JS: How I feel is not relevant. But then you would have to prove, preferably with an analysis of the original Greek Τετέλεσται, that His proclamation forbids vaccination.

CB: We are post the fall BUT He provided the fix on the cross.

JS: But if you are right, then why do Christians die, the most obvious physical aspect of the curse? And this death even in the best of circumstances is the result of the body breaking down over time. Even His own apostles died (and got sick sometimes).

Your argument really proves too much. As above, Christians should never need glasses either since Christ’s death on the cross fixed physical maladies. Of course, I don’t know what you would do about totally blind Christians like gospel singer Ginny Owens—are they not saved? See this section on physical disabilities from my paper Why would a loving God allow death and suffering?

CB: My reason for telling you to ask God was not for new revelation contrary to biblical teaching but revelation that you could have been convinced by a “strong delusion” that God needs your pharmaceutical help with His design of the body.

JS: Yes, just like I needed Lasik surgery to help with the now fallen design of one of my eyes, and why many of my colleagues need extra refractive lenses to see properly.

CB: Your name calling and ‘belief’ that we need these clever chemical concoctions is not the science I expect from CMI. Go and take some vaccines to an independent lab and furnish us with the results [website deleted as per feedback rules]

JS: They have been tested many times. But what I don’t want to see is a recurrence of many nasty diseases. Your position would have the unacceptable outcome that all those millions who died of horrible diseases were not really saved.

CB: You also need to tell us why God needs to have animal and human derivatives injected in His us—without name calling—use real science.

Thank you.

JS: Real science already provided. And I provided you with the biblical reason: we live in a fallen world, and the curse won’t be completely undone until the final resurrection bodies.

GiGi B., United States, 25 October 2014

This really was a wonderful article and put the entire situation into perspective. Thank you for posting this.

Chris S., United Kingdom, 25 October 2014

CMI has done a great job reporting on various research projects over the last two decades which have detected dinosaur tissue remains that could not possibly have survived millions of years. The DNA longevity figures in reference 6 in the above article are most important because they quantify the problem for those who believe in evolutionary timescales.

It would be good to have figures for survival of red blood cells (erythrocytes) outside a living body—or rather inside a dead (drowned!) body, as this would potentially strengthen the case for the erythrocyte-like objects seen in some dinosaur tissue samples actually being erythrocytes. Clearly a red blood cell could not last millions of years, but could it even last the several centuries that our 'Flood hypothesis' requires? All I have been able to find on the internet are a few studies on storage of blood for transfusion, most of which say blood can only be stored for about seven weeks; much too short a duration for our purposes.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Red blood cells would not be viable very long, but the basic structure and components clearly must be able to last ~4,500 years, because they have been found! And there have been studies on the rates of breakdown of several proteins, and RBCs are made largely of protein. See The Real Jurassic Park. We also published an article addressing the claim that the discoveries would be just as much a problem for the Creation/Flood model: Dino proteins and blood vessels: are they a big deal?, which explains the thermodynamics and kinetics involved.

David A., United States, 25 October 2014

Very well written. Specific facts about Ebola, Flu and immunization—very helpful!

Sandra D., United States, 25 October 2014

Wow, this article could certainly have been written by one of the shills for the CDC with the false numbers of flu deaths per year. Those numbers are simply wrong.

This ebola ‘crisis’ is simply a means to roll out a new vaccine, (like the flu shot a few years ago) but this time they have made it much more frightening than the flu, since many people have learned that the flu shot causes more serious health issues and are refusing to take it.

Ergo, bring out a really deadly one, like ‘ebola’ that will scare people into taking their deadly vaccines.

I suggest you all read Tom Clancy’s novels. He had this stuff pegged 20 years ago and he also had a plane flying in the Capital building.

This ebola thing is nothing but a huge false-flag scare tactic.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

If I’m a shill for the CDC, I wish I could see some of the money ;) And as said above, many anti-vax sites make lots of money on overpriced supplements, as documented on this blog. While this is not in any way connected to CMI, so this is no endorsement, it’s hard to disagree with this point:

This post began out of curiosity as so many antivaxxers claim that the only purpose of a vaccine is to generate profits for drug companies (aka: ‘Big Pharma’), or to individual doctors. Aside from the fact there is much more money to be made by treating diseases such as polio, smallpox, or rubella than there will ever be by preventing these diseases, there is also the common sense aspect of this theory that fails to convince. You see, to believe vaccines are merely a method to profit suggests that tens of thousands or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of clinicians, researchers, scientists, doctors, medical experts, federal regulators, and industry watchdogs are all somehow involved in some massive conspiracy and refuse to speak out because they risk missing out on their cut of that $23 vaccine given to a toddler.

Also, many of these doctors and researchers are Christians who detest disease and would clearly love to see these diseases eradicated. And as I wrote in the article, the leaders in the treatment of Ebola in Africa are missionary doctors, one of whom contracted this very real illness. So are they fools or knaves?

Finally, I thought Tom Clancey’s novels were works of fiction.

C. B., South Africa, 25 October 2014

I normally love your articles and this is how it was until you started pushing vaccines in this article.

Jonathan Sarfati responds: The fact that you normally like our articles should have engendered some trust that we would not knowingly mislead. This ‘pushing vaccines’ is part of our duty of care for our supporters. We are also hardly blind followers of the establishment, as should be obvious, although we are not reflexively anti-establishment either—we are pro-Bible. Indeed, we try to help people avoid poor arguments used by other creationists.

CB: God did not make an imperfect immune system

JS: Indeed, He did not. But because of the Fall, a once perfect immune system is no longer perfect. Many of the ‘natural is good’ arguments forget this vital doctrine. That is why millions have died of infectious diseases. Many fewer died precisely because of the help given by vaccination, largely pioneered by the creationist chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur.

CB: that needs help from pharmaceuticals which make billions of dollars a year.

JS: This is not as sound an argument as many people think. The ‘profit motive’ is a strong incentive to make things that will help people so they will buy their product, and a strong disincentive to make harmful products that will lose lots of business.

Also, the polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk famously refused to profit from his work, which probably could have made him $7 billion if he had patented it. Another thing, the flu shot is under $30, while there would be much more pharmaceutical profit if a person had to be hospitalized from influenza, or in days gone by, in an iron lung from polio. Finally, many of the anti-vax sites complaining about pharmaceutical profits have huge web stores for their own products. It’s not clear from biblical, or even economic, principles why ‘Big Pharma’ is evil while ‘Big Supplement’ (or ‘Big Placebo’) is good.

CB:Your arguments for vaccination are from articles and research paid for by the same companies or their research arms which are making these huge profits.

JS: It would be nice if CMI would see some of this profit; we need more scientists and speakers ;) Anyway, the researchers are usually experts in microbiology, pathology, and toxicology, unlike many of the opponents.

CB: I STRONGLY suggest you firstly ask God to reveal the truth to you about vaccines and then go and read both sides of the argument.

JS: However, CMI believes in the sufficiency of Scripture. So I strongly suggest that you base your position on what God has already revealed in His written Word, either directly or by logical deduction. “God told me”, “God has laid a burden on my heart”, “Have you prayed about it?” are not real arguments, but with all due respect, are a form of spiritual blackmail.

CB: Cumulative damage from mercury

JS: The point has often been made that whether a heavy metal—or any substance—is ‘toxic’ depends on the amount, as explained in detail in Understanding poisons from a creationist perspective. You’ll ingest far more mercury by eating tuna. As argued before, in the amounts used, there is no proof that even the mercury-containing thiomersal has caused conditions like autism. However, it is deadly to germs even in tiny amounts, reflected in the term oligodynamic effect, from Greek oligos = few (it seems to be common among chalcophile metals like mercury, silver and copper, i.e. with an affinity for sulfur, so they disrupt vital sulfur-containing bacterial enzymes). It’s also important to note that in this fallen world, there are no solutions, just trade-offs. Vaccines lacking preservative have had their own problems—e.g. in 1928, 12 of 21 children inoculated with a non-preserved diphtheria vaccine were killed by a staph infection. Finally, this question is somewhat moot in the US, since thiomersal has been phased out in favour of single-dose vaccines. But this has its own trade-off in the greater expense, which is a big issue for third-world countries. So the World Health Organization argues that this problem outweighs the potential toxicity in Position of the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety regarding concerns raised by paper about the safety of thiomersal-containing vaccines, May 2003, although this is always under review.

Note also, in one vital way, mercury is vastly different from disease germs, because mercury atoms do not reproduce, while disease germs do, making their danger far more ‘cumulative’.

CB: and aluminium

JS: Alumnium is an adjuvant, that is, it enhances the immune response, so that less of the deactivated infectious agent is needed. Aluminium is in any case abundant in nature, e.g. clay minerals are aluminosilicate sheets.

CB: let alone the other things that you just brush off with name calling tells me that you have only read one side of the argument or are part of the system that profits from vaccines.

JS: But those who profit from anti-vax are OK?

CB: I have put >10 years of research into this and have strongly considered both sides.

JS: That would depend on what you have researched. My own research indirectly goes back much further, in the accounts of doctors a generation or so older than I. They are old enough to have seen a patient die of tetanus, seen the well-hidden iron lung wings in hospitals for polio victims, or a child dying from the one-in-a-thousand complication from measles: encephalitis (brain disease).

CB: I will take a bullet before I consider any vaccine under any circumstances including ebola coming vaccine.

JS: I urge caution, because bullets have a far higher quantity of heavy metals than you could ever get from a lifetime of vaccination ;)

As for me, if there were a vaccination for the common cold as safe as the influenza shot, I would take it like a shot (pun intended).

CB: Please consider this strongly and then ask for God’s forgiveness for publishing such false and one sided information.

JS: That would require that there is some sin in this article, which has not been demonstrated.

W. I., Australia, 25 October 2014

Vaccines sterilize people. They cause conditions such as autism. Injecting my family with heavy metals and fetus parts sounds like a really dangerous and dumb idea. There is plenty of evidence that the viruses that vaccines have been supposedly championed for eradicating were already on the decline before the vaccines were distributed. Don’t get sucked in to the media hype which is driven by globalists hell bent on wiping large portions of the population of the planet. Remember God’s word, shall the well seek a physician? (Paraphrased)

Jonathan Sarfati responds

OK, quite a few assertions there. But actually, many parents have vaccines, so they must be lousy at causing sterility, by definition.

Another young-earth creationist scientist, Dr Jay Wile, has written a careful study, Vaccines DO NOT Cause Autism, 2009.

Vaccines do NOT contain fetus parts, as already addressed in Vaccines cultured on aborted fetal tissue? and Vaccines and abortion? Actually, vaccines are very pro-life, by preventing many maternal illnesses that could cause miscarriage or damage to the unborn. E.g. Dr Wile's article Flu Shot During Pregnancy Produces Unexpected Benefits cites studies showing that pregnant women who took the H1N1 flu shot:

The first study Dr. Sarfati sent me was published in The American Journal of Public Health back in 2012. The authors used Ontario’s birth record database (called BORN) to analyze more than 55,000 single-child births that took place in Canada during what the authors call “the 2009–2010 H1N1 pandemic.” They specifically looked at which mothers got the H1N1 flu vaccine. They found that 42% of the mothers did get the vaccine, while the rest did not. They also found that the mothers who received the vaccine were 28% less likely to deliver before their full term and 19% less likely to have a child with a low birth weight. The most striking finding, however, was that mothers who got the vaccine were 34% less likely to have a stillborn child.

As for diseases on the decline, if it were really due to sanitation and nutrition, then we would expect the diseases to decline at the same time. But instead, we see that the diseases declined at different points in history, which correlated strongly with the introduction of vaccines. Further, recent outbreaks of certain diseases in the West have nothing to do with any decline in sanitation or nutrition in the area, but correlate with a rise in anti-vax sentiment. See the graphs in For Some Diseases, It Was Vaccination, Not Sanitation.

Here is an interesting account, originally published in 1999, about a horrible polio epidemic in Ireland written by a survivor: Polio: The deadly summer of 1956. 1956 is modern enough that lack of hygiene and nutrition was not an issue. Indeed, polio is probably the clearest evidence that it was vaccination, not sanitation, which eradicated the disease, because sanitation actually made the disease more prevalent, because it reduced contact with the disease germ in the environment that sometimes conferred natural immunity—so the dirty environment was acting like a crude vaccine!:

The fear was all the greater because polio did not behave like other diseases. Unlike typhus or cholera, it mainly hit the middle classes rather than the poor. In Cork most of the victims were in the relatively prosperous southern suburbs and not the terrible slums in the north of the city.

But at the end of the 19th century polio took on a new and more menacing form. For the first time there were polio epidemics and they happened in the richer countries like the US, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand. This was because public health was improving with better water supply and sewage systems. Previously people lived in symbiosis with the polio virus. The majority of small children were self-immunised because they got the disease, often without symptoms, when they were still protected by their mother’s antibodies. Only in the last decades of the last century were there enough potential victims without immunity for polio to turn into an epidemic. These victims, as Dr McCarthy noted, were likely to be the children in better-off families living in the most hygienic conditions.

Finally, are you really saying that we should never see physicians? That would be surprising since a physician was the single biggest human contributor to the New Testament (Luke + Acts).

Paul S., Australia, 24 October 2014

However they are getting the shot in April (which is usually when the weather is turning here), no flu is around (unlike winter), noone else gets sick (I know what is happening in my workplace and a few others). The most recent one was a pastor at church, he went down for a week a week after getting the shot. He hardly gets sick otherwise. I know of many like that.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

All the same, there is no way the pastor got influenza from the flu shot, for reasons explained above. Many people call a very bad cold ‘the flu’, but it is caused by a different virus so is not protected by the flu shot. Genuine influenza is much more serious, and really can require hospitalization.

Paul S., Australia, 24 October 2014

Not directly on the article, but I have heard first-hand accounts of case after case after case of people getting a bad flu right after the flu shot. The ‘lesser dose’ really doesn't work very well in that case. I never get a flu shot and never get the flu, however I do exercise and eat well.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Unfortunately, a very widely held fallacy is post hoc ergo propter hoc (“after this therefore because of this”). So these unfortunate people became ill after a flu shot, so think that the flu shot caused the disease. But this is not possible, because the flu shot lacks live infective agents. In reality, it takes about two weeks for the body's immune system to respond fully, and these unfortunates caught the live flu virus before the immune system was fully protective.

Also, no system is totally effective, and sometimes the vaccine doesn't contain the right match for the live virus. But I won't refuse to wear seatbelts because they are not 100% effective in a car crash. See also the CDC page Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines, especially under Why do some people not feel well after getting the seasonal flu vaccine?

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