Is Medicine becoming a New Religion? (Part 1)

Modern medicine projects the image of scientific rigor but has all the hallmarks of a system of religious belief. The practical consequence of its insular perspective is the dead-end system of Western medical materialism that we have today. Repair of the physical body is erroneously equated with healing. Never mind whether it is capable of true healing; it doesn’t even understand the meaning of the concept. The “church” of modern medicine is a dysfunctional Frankenstein monster, a result of having raised the analytical abstractions of the rational mind to god-like status above all other faculties of human experience. It is a mere caricature of what medical science could and should be.

In its quest for objectivity medicine has rejected its spiritual roots and lost sight of its humanity. It cannot be but a reflection of the culture from which it has emerged. It arrogantly rejects the wisdom of thousands of years of human history, is fragmented to the point of dissociation, devoid of common sense, preoccupied with short-term material goals, slave to its financial overlords, and utterly lacking in the requisite spiritual knowledge that would enable it to find its way out of its self-imposed foolishness.

Like some religious faiths, medicine clings ferociously to its worldview when challenged by congregants (patients) whose firsthand experiences sometimes lead them to believe otherwise. It defends its dogma with a powerful form of groupthink and is quick to lash out at heretical ideas that threaten its doctrine and its territorial interests. Like some religious movements that purport to be the one and only true path to salvation, it displays an unusual degree of intolerance when faced with nonbelievers who dare to ask questions. It is a closed belief system that does not allow innovation or new ideas. It lays claim to truth, fact, and objectivity, but exposes itself as otherwise when we closely examine its assumptions, politics, and practices.

The church of medicine found its origins with Rene Descartes in the seventeenth century, a key figure in the Scientific Revolution and a proponent of rationalism, a philosophy that elevated the mind and its ability to reason to a superior status above all other sources of knowledge. There are many thoughtful individuals, however, who would consider spiritual insight to be a superior form of knowledge. Nevertheless, even though spiritual reality and material reality can be considered two halves of Cartesian dualism, one gradually began to take precedence over the other. That which could not be measured, quantified, or assigned a logic to justify its truth was dismissed and tossed aside as irrelevant, and it was from this dogma that the new secular church of medical materialism took root. That is to say that this is the point where it began to deny the primacy of spirit and replace it with the worship of the physical body as the most important, if not the only consideration relevant to human health.

Medical science takes a materialistic stand in opposition to the non-physical; it is predicated upon a denial of the relevance of spirit. The irony here is that the church of medicine assumes the authority and function of a religious system but refuses to account for the role that the spiritual dimension plays in human health. Others who understand the significance of spiritual factors such as an afterlife, reincarnation, dreams, synchronicity, and so on, are forced to contend with an unnatural cultural split that reduces the welfare of the physical body to material terms and relegates the welfare of the soul to the wayside, as if body and soul are not connected and have no impact upon one another.

Before I get much further into this critique of Western medicine, let me qualify by saying that I am not anti-science per say. My first degree was in physics. I often joke that in the hard sciences like Physics the accuracy of our results are measured to three decimal places. In medicine, you are lucky if you have one decimal place if at all. Neither am I against conventional medicine and diagnosis when I find it necessary for my patients, my family, and myself. It has its pluses and minuses.
We could not do without medical diagnostics, emergency medicine, insulin for diabetics, antibiotics for life-threatening illnesses, and so on. And although I have the utmost respect for my conventional medical colleagues who dedicate themselves to the well-being of their patients, the system itself is badly broken, based upon a flawed philosophy, and in dire need of serious revision. Similarly, I respect the diversity of human religious and spiritual experience, especially when it, too, respects diversity and eschews the impulse to proselytize.

“Scientism” is a term that has been applied to Western science’s tendency to consider itself as the only valid way of describing reality and acquiring knowledge. Far from objective science, it is riddled with a self-imposed form of materialistic and mechanistic bias. When it inappropriately and clumsily attempts to impose its restricted worldview upon domains where it has no business meddling, it can no longer be considered legitimate science that is practiced with an awareness of its boundaries. It instead begins to resemble an ideology not unlike a religious form of evangelism. Again, it is more than a bit ironic when conventional medicine attempts to belittle some alternative therapies as “faith-based.”

If you have read my earlier two articles, the mishmash of murky money politics, government manoeuvrings and character assassination would be wonderful ingredients in a popular pot-boiler but hardly appropriate for the BMJ, one of the sacred cows of Western Medicine to be involved in. The scandalous attempt to destroy the reputation and career of Dr fairly typical for a political or religious organisation but not for a scientific one, unless it is a really a political or religious organisation masquerading as a scientific one.
Why is this important to you as a consumer? Simply because if you recognise that organisations like the British Medical Journal have a “religious and political” agenda first followed by a scientific agenda, you are less likely to be disappointed then if you expect scientific and academic impeccability.

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Be well
Dr Sundardas

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