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

From: jack syme <>
Date: Thu Dec 22 2005 - 23:26:24 EST

Yes what you are talking about here gets to the heart of my questions.

Lets take the cases of the failed treatments in traditional medicine and
research. There are many examples of this. But, the ideas that these
failed treatments are based on, are usually sound scientifically. Certainly
the complexity of human biology is incomprehensible, and our knowledge of
the basic sciences is far from complete. But in most cases any trial that
makes it to human subjects, has to have well documented basic science theory
and experimental evidence in the laboratory. So the underlying basic
sciences are not proven wrong, just the application.

That is not quite the case with acupuncture. Either the meridian and qi
therories are true or they are not. If they are true, then doesnt this
challenge Christianity? If sin is an illusion, and human ailments are just
an imbalance of yin and yang, and altering the flow of qi can correct this
imbalance, who needs Christ?

In one case you have failed treatments that do not alter the prevailing
scientific paradigm. In the other case, if the results of the treatment can
be shown to not have anything to do with the underlying philosophy, (i.e.
evidence that there is no difference between sham acupuncture and true
acupuncture), what does this say about the underlying philosophy?

----- Original Message -----
From: "D. F. Siemens, Jr." <>
To: <>
Cc: <>; <>;
<>; <>
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2005 4:51 PM
Subject: Re: Alternative Medicine (was Re: Skepticism - its uses and abuses)

> On Thu, 22 Dec 2005 06:19:42 -0500 "jack syme" <>
> writes:
>> > 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.
> There are, as I see it, two different problems. The one is that the
> explanation given is false. This cannot be operative, because there are
> lots of treatments in contemporary medicine which have had erroneous
> bases. Try prefrontal lobotomy, which did more harm than good; boring
> holes in the heart to increase circulation--but my cardiologist said all
> it did was kill nerves so the angina went away. I also recall a treatment
> that involved wrapping the heart with muscle tissue from the chest wall.
> I have no idea how many more treatments will eventually prove to be based
> on mistakes, though the proposals sound plausible at the time.
> The second problem is a requirement that the treatments involve
> incantations and similar recognition of forces and entities that do not
> connect directly to the Father. I recall, on a different level, a convert
> from demonism who claimed that the "tarrying" procedures of some
> Christian groups were what he had practiced to secure the power of what
> he now recognized as demons. Certainly no wise Christian wants to become
> entangled with satanic minions. This seems radically different than the
> first difficulty.
> Dave
Received on Thu Dec 22 23:28:33 2005

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