Modern medicine suffers from the same crippling ideology as modern Christianity. In both, the obsession with resisting evil, of rallying against the bad to protect the good, prevents them from seeing the problems of man’s physical health and his spiritual nature clearly.
Christianity veered from the template established by Jesus Christ almost as soon as it began. To my mind, His injunction that mankind should “resist not evil” is the second most important of His ministry. Heaven and earth can no more be unified through resistance to evil than it can be by subduing the devil, once and for all. His central and most important message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, was a call to rethink the approach man had long taken: that of resisting evil to restore heaven on earth.
Whether modern medicine was helped or hindered by Christian thinkers is debatable. Many would argue that the system of medicine and the science which undergirds it advanced despite the mystical and stifling beliefs of Christianity. Whoever wins that argument will have his reward, but I cannot help but note an intriguing correlation between modern science and modern Christianity: modern medicine has evolved to become as obsessed with resisting evil as the Christian church.
I doubt very much it was all Pasteur’s fault, as this tendency was present in medicine long before his time. The germ theory of disease, however, does encapsulate the approach neatly. We’ve spent an enormous amount of time, money and effort fighting germs, even though we now that not all germs are bad.
In fact, studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of germs and bacteria are good for us, if not necessary to life! Good health is apparently as dependent upon a balanced microbiome as it is any other factor (e.g diet, exercise, hydration, etc.). Knowing this, wouldn’t it make sense that you should be more likely to receive a prescription for some missing bacteria or other microorganism than you would for the magic bullet of medicine – antibiotics – which mount an indiscriminate assault on your microbiome?
Doctors and priests have earnestly fought the “good” fight for centuries. They have resisted evil in its various forms, corporeal and spiritual, in an attempt to establish a healthier world. While I certainly do not question or fault their intentions or sincerity, I am compelled to raise the question: is this approach getting us anywhere useful?
4 thoughts on “The Good Fight”
It may seem ironic that the best efforts of so many to be “good” have resulted in incalculable evil. This is where the best intentions are turned to the benefit of the adversary again and again. This point is worthy of much creative meditation, because if there is to be any likelihood of finding a true source of motivation, this pathway must be abandoned!
In medicine the relatively new super bug seems to have developed to thwart the antibiotic approach to health. I have to wonder of the travails mankind has brought upon itself as corrections for breaking this immutable law in our approach to living. If it seems we are always fighting a losing battle, the point is, it wasn’t one to begin with.
I think the issue with both of these ideologies is that they have initially satisfying results. Both in medicine and in religion, when you fight the fight you will see results in some manner, at least on the surface. And even if you don’t, you can always say “I fought the good fight. I might have failed, but I gave it my all.”
Coupled with this fact, most people don’t really like to think critically about their assumptions. So they see the fighting working on the surface. It doesn’t ever really fix the problem, so then the assumption is that the problem can’t be solved, not that the method of solving it is flawed.
We can fix the evils in our world, both in medicine and in religion, but it will not be with the approach of resisting evil. That approach empowers evil in the long run, despite good intentions.
You raise some good points. I too wonder about all the efforts that are directed towards destroying the various agents of disease, whether they be pathogens, cancer cells, criminals, etc. It seems that as soon as we do that, some other problem which oftentimes is much larger shortly follows the temporary period of ‘remission’.
Some of Pasteur’s contemporaries talked of the terrain, or environment, that begets the pathogens. This does afford a larger viewpoint which takes into account many more variables, examining the conditions that surround the manifestation of illness. From this angle, conclusions can be drawn that ultimately serve to strengthen the host, creating conditions inhospitable to pathogens, cancer, crime, etc. To see its obvious implications of prevention is the next simple and logical step. In your example, enhancing the microbiome is now seriously being considered as an alternative to antibiotic drugs, given that overuse of antibiotics are implicated in the rise of crippling illnesses such as autoimmune disease.
Premises are so important, for they set the foundation of all that follows. History shows that when there’s too much investment in a given industry and the industry is showing the faults and cracks that come when foundational elements lack structural integrity and thus cannot bear much more weight, that we rarely are willing to admit change and renewal. I hope in this case that we can, for the stakes are so much higher than ever before!