Re: Alternative Medicine (was Re: Skepticism - its uses and abuses)

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Thu Dec 22 2005 - 09:01:51 EST

It is easier for a good Calvinist like me with a wide understanding of
Common Grace. Too often we will deny all aspects of God's general revelation
out of fear that it may not be Christian.

Don't forget parts of Proverbs is pinched from the Egyptians and the Mosaic
tabernacle is very like Midianite temples.


PS I am an Anglican so I never never joke about my religion
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mervin Bitikofer" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2005 12:53 PM
Subject: Re: Alternative Medicine (was Re: Skepticism - its uses and abuses)

>I think we [Christians] fear the associations with other religions. So
>something like Yoga immediately raises "new age" red flags. It may be
>appropriate for Christians to avoid some practices, but "mind-emptying"
>disciplines and meditations that some eastern religions promote might
>actually be a beneficial thing if Christians can couple it with the
>Biblical wisdom that an empty mind is an invitation to spirits even more
>wicked than the original inhabitants. Perhaps some eastern style
>meditations can teach us how to "clean house", and then the Bible can teach
>us how to furnish and fill it with good things. I think a good many of us
>would probably benefit for such practices. Richard Foster's
>"Celebration of Discipline" is an excellent Christian work dealing with
>some of this. (Christian traditions already have many 'in-house'
>disciplines such as fasting that can help accomplish some of the same
> The only criteria we see in the Bible regarding the merits of various
> religions is how well the tongue is bridled or whether or not the orphans
> and widows are looked after. (western Christianity as a 'religion'
> doesn't always fare so well on these judgments). Of course James doesn't
> seem to be assuming that faith in Christ is 'just another religion'. This
> faith (I think) is implied to be the cohesive matrix (the entire 'world
> view') within which other religious or cultural practices can be accepted
> or discouraged based on their utility in helping us restrain our sensual
> self-indulgences. (Also Paul's apparent criteria: Colossians 2:23) It
> seems to me that fearing something merely for its associations with
> non-Christian religions is not well-founded. Of course there are those
> practices such as witchcraft that are specifically forbidden for us.
> A bit of Steven Wright humor: I have a friend who practices both voodoo
> and acupuncture. You'll just be walking down the street, and then...
> ahhhhh!
> (a more recent criteria for evaluating a religion suggested: "It is the
> test of a good religion whether you can joke about it." --G.K.
> Chesterton)
> One other comment: "the Undergrowth of Science" by Walter Gratzer is an
> excellent work for the history of what we now (with hindsight) recognize
> as all the quackery. Somebody previously had mentioned N-rays -- one of
> the fascinating stories in that book. Gratzer essentially makes the case
> that the science we value as 'solid' has flourished, in major part, as a
> beneficiary of all the nutrient supplying 'undergrowth' that, by itself is
> derided as the manure. Somebody also mentioned in these posts that some
> of what we call 'quackery' may end up substantially enhancing the
> established medical sciences in the end. I think there is something to
> that.
> --merv
> jack syme wrote:
>>> On chinese medicine I am convinced by acupuncture. I have a bad neck -
>>> I can hear grinding when
>>> I turn my head! It's been stretched massaged but acupuncture helped. I
>>> only tried it as nothing worked. However there are good reasons why it
>>> works.
>> This is exactly the issue I struggle with. Yes acupuncture can work.
>> But why does it work? What are the good reasons why it works? As far as
>> I know there is no anatomical correlate for meridians, and no
>> physiological correlate for qi.
>> My professional opinion of acupuncture is that it works by some mechanism
>> that is not at all well understood. And most likely has nothing to do
>> with qi and meridians. There might be a real effect on neuropeptides,
>> some unkown effect on nervous system function, or it might all be placebo
>> effect. But, the risk of being needled is very small. So if someone can
>> find relief from a chronic ailment such as headaches, neck and back pain,
>> without side effects then just because its mechanism is not well
>> understood is no reason not to recommend it.
>> But, is the fact that the underlying philosophy of acupuncture Taoist a
>> reason not to recommend it to Christians? And should I as a Christian
>> physician not recommend it for those reasons? Similar questions can be
>> raised about kundalini yoga, vedic medicine, meditation techniques, etc.
>> I have up to this point taken the approach that the underlying worldview
>> that acupuncture is based on is so far removed from the practice of it,
>> that there is little reason to believe that undergoing acupuncture was
>> sinful. And it is likely that the traditional explanation of how
>> acupuncture works, is in fact false.
Received on Thu Dec 22 09:03:37 2005

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