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Wishing Won't Fill the Fuel Tank
by Anton Kelly

Last week a New Zealand couple, Roby and Deborah Moorhead, were convicted of the manslaughter of their 6-month-old son by failing to provide him with the necessaries of life. Little Caleb Moorhead died of bronchopneumonia resulting from Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Roby and Deborah Moorhead are vegans. Meat, poultry, eggs, seafood and dairy products constitute the main sources of Vitamin B12 and do not form part of a vegan diet. Mrs Moorheadís breastmilk was deficient in B12 and inadequate for Calebís nutritional needs.

B12 assists in nerve function and red cell development and is essential for the synthesis of DNA. It is crucial for normal brain development in newborn babies. Despite being fully aware of their sonís B12 deficiency, when Caleb was admitted to hospital for treatment his parents defied medical advice and fled into hiding with him. Caleb died two weeks later. All he needed was a simple injection.

Roby and Deborah Moorhead are also radical christians. They were convinced that only prayer and natural herbal remedies would help Caleb, and they took him from hospital because they believe conventional medicine is "Satanís way". They believed prayer and herbs would provide Caleb with all the B12 he needed.

Anyone with a basic knowledge of chemistry knows that atoms are the building blocks of existence, and that when certain atoms come together in certain ways they form certain molecules and compounds. The atoms involved have always existed and their behaviour is governed by specific laws. Atoms, molecules and compounds do not magically appear from nowhere. Wishing doesnít make them so.

By ignoring medical advice and praying that B12 would miraculously appear in their sonís system, the Moorheads demonstrated their ignorance of how the world works. They denied the primacy of existence. Their belief in the power of prayer is an attempt to evade reality, and is is no different from myself simply wishing that my carís empty fuel tank would suddenly fill with petrol. It would be nice, but it wonít happen. The existence of petrol in my carís fuel tank is subject to certain inescapable laws.

Mr Moorhead told police he did not accept that his actions led to his sonís death. After they were charged with manslaughter, the Moorheads declined the services of a lawyer, saying god was in control of the outcome of their trial. Perhaps they will interpret the guilty verdicts as showing that their god is upset with them for killing little Caleb. Somehow I doubt it.

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