The Society of Jesus has one of the richest traditions of learning and science as any Catholic organization, and here at Marquette there is often so much discussion of science and religion that we forget that most of the world still sees the two as at war with each other.
Unfortunately, we were all reminded of this sad fact by the death of Madeline Kara Neumann.
For those who don't know, Madeline Neumann (a Weston, Wis. native) is an 11-year-old girl who died two weeks ago because her parents relied on prayer instead of taking their diabetic daughter to the doctor.
Dan Vergin, the police chief of the Everest Metro Department, told the Wausau Daily Herald that the girl's parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, believe she died because she didn't have enough faith.
"Instead of seeking medical help, they chose to pray over her and believed their faith would heal her," Vergin said. "But she got sicker and sicker until she was dead."
Neumann died of undiagnosed and untreated diabetic ketoacidosis.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a condition where the body produces inadequate insulin levels that result in high blood sugar and, when untreated, causes the body to quite literally eat itself for energy until the person dies.
Any pre-med major would tell you that simple shots of insulin would have saved her life. Instead, doctors believe Madeline was ill for about 30 days. During that time, she suffered from nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, excessive weight loss and overwhelming weakness.
In the end, it was the girl's aunt, who lives in California, who called 911 to get the police to take her niece to the hospital.
During the 911 call the aunt said, "Please, my sister-in-law is very religious and believes in faith instead of doctors…we've been trying to get her to take her to the hospital for a week now."
Less than an hour after the ambulance was called, Madeline was declared dead.
Since her death, Madeline's parents have been under investigation and may be charged for their inaction.
Among the books that the police confiscated were "Handbook for Healing," "Fasting: A neglected discipline," a medical and first aid book, and "Sovereign God," a publication by David Eels that asks a single question: How much do you trust God?
Vergin told the Journal Sentinel last week that "charges are very likely" and "it was an unnecessary death."
"After everything else is said and done, it was unnecessary for the 11-year-old to die. She could have easily been treated and had a long, loving life here on Earth," Vergin said.
The death of Madeline Neumann was a tragic death that resulted from the ongoing war between science and religion.