W:3 Science, religion, and healing, whats the deal?


It seems like a discussion regarding science, religion, and healing, always seems to be one of controversy. We start this discussion with Cartesian Duality, the mind, body, and spirit all work differently in our health. SO many people look at this theory differently. In western medicine, asking “What’s the meaning of life, or what’s the meaning of death” (Lecture 3.1), is irrelevant. The thing that doctors are mostly concerned with is they physical body itself; they don’t take into account the other aspects, the mind and spirit, mostly because it complicates things and goes beyond the realms of scientific belief. Western medicine does everything it can to prolong life with medical and technical devices, so much that that said person using these devices almost isn’t human anymore, which contradicts many religious and spiritual beliefs. In many cultures death is viewed a lot differently, the process of death is viewed as something of importance, and with the implementation of these medical “miracles” people lose that one last experience that is so important to some religions and beliefs. I know personally that a lot of cultures forbid taking extraordinary measures, and this isn’t always a bad thing. It can viewed that our body has its own way of healing that involves our mind and spirit, and adding some sort of artificial medicine aspect only hurts the body, not heals it. Another major point is that the mind has a lot of affect on our health, more than a lot of people realize. This is proved in placebo affects discussed in lecture, although patients don’t take actual pain drugs, they still find relief because there mind thinks it is receiving relief.

The American biomedical system is an effective use of health that is very effective for many people, but there are a lot of other health systems and strategies around the world. Most of these in fact, include more of the spirituality, mind, and religion aspects, that looks at the entire person inside and out. The thing that I find the most important point to all these different medical types is that not everything works for the same people. Some health protocols that we follow in western medicine may be forgetting a social or spiritual aspect that other cultures find imperative to health success.

“Human’s, like every living organism have a material body. But at the same time, there is also something intangible, which is life itself” (Unshuld). It is a hard line between what is best for our body and what is best for our souls. Like I mentioned it is a controversial topic, but like I mentioned earlier I think something that aren’t specifically medical cures are better for us to heal with than any drug every could be. I think there are some way for us to heal that science just can’t describe. As Brooke states in his book Science and Religion, “Problems arise as soon as one enquires about the relationship between science and religion, not only have the boundaries been shifted with time, but they have also been to abstract for their historical context”. I think the relationship between religion, healing, and science will always be blurry but as humans start to except other cultures and their beliefs we start to acquire more understanding of medical practices and ideas and adapt to those as well.




6 thoughts on “W:3 Science, religion, and healing, whats the deal?

  1. Hi Jennifer, I really found your post to be interesting and informative. I agree that most doctors today only really concern themselves with the physical aspect of patients. In Western medicine we are always relying on the latest biomedical advancements and applying them to patients. Also new pharmaceuticals are constantly being developed to eradicate diseases and improve upon older drugs. We rarely have an emotional approach that concerns a patients spirituality and emotional health during a time of sickness. I completely agree that our country is fixated on the idea of prolonging human life, to the point that patients are literally being kept alive solely by machines. Death is a natural process and while I don’t think it’s a bad thing to try and prolong life, I think it should be done using proper judgement and on a situational basis. Through death and loss people learn to grieve and move on with their life and sometimes we are making that process less natural with artificial assistance. I agree that our country has a lot learn on the matter of combining spirituality, religion, and healing in medicine. It would really benefit patients if doctors were willing to accommodate to their patients’ cultures and beliefs.

  2. Hi Jennifer!
    You bring up a lot of great points in this week’s post. I couldn’t agree more that doctors are mostly concerned with the physical body. It is amazing to me how most doctors these days are specialists in one thing or anther because the body is so complex. You bring up how the body has a way of healing itself, which is very true, but I think a lot of times, especially now-a-days, we put our body through more than it is suppose to handle and many of us rarely think something could go wrong with us. I also find it interesting that doctors do not focus on the mind more because we are really just flesh and bone without it. Without our mind and brain, we cannot perform any daily functions to keep us living. I also think that some people see the body simply as a vessel to carry our minds and perform these functions. I loved how you brought up that not everything works the same for different people. We are different for a reason and if these was one way to cure all of us, the medical field would be bare. Doctors look at symptoms and try to figure out, to the best of their knowledge, what those symptoms add up to. That usually isn’t too much of a problem, but a patient-centered approach to treating each individual is very necessary. Yes, the relationship will always be a bit blurry but I agree that by merging different cultures and disciplines of medicine, we are working towards the right path.

  3. Jennifer,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post this week. I can agree with you that our health protocols in the United States should be more aware and considerate of other cultures social and spiritual aspects. The United States seems to heavily rely on pharmaceuticals while we should be trying to use other methods when possible. In my opinion we as a country are overmedicating our population and need to be focused on finding more natural ways to help people with their problems. I understand that our country tries to prolong life like you said, but in my opinion their should be a line in place. For me it is a religious line. I believe if an elderly person is ready to die no doctor should prolong their life as it is their time to go. Death is a natural process that should not be tampered with if it is occurring naturally. This also reminds me of how we are treating bodies after death has occurred. Embalming should be used only if truly needed, not for all cases. I think we are not only harming human bodies when using so many unnatural things for medical use, but we are harming our environment as well. Overall I really liked how you touched on medical use of drugs and the healing process.


  4. Great job with your analysis this week Jennifer! I had ideas similar to yours. Something I find very controversial and worth talking about is the end of life care and prolonging life by the use of machines. We are all familiar with Dr. Kavorkian and the controversy his actions caused. I just recently watched a very close friend watch his father go through a tough 4 months at the end of his battle with cancer. The last 2 months of his life he had no quality life, no independence, the toll that was taken on his family was horrible. At circumstances like this I personally think that a patient and/or their family should have the right to end the suffering. A person of integrity and great character should not have to suffer for the last moments of their life as my friend’s father just did. I agree where you said that machines only hurts the body, it does not help the mind or spirit help heal the body. Western medicine has an influence from the legal system and it is hard to come up with a way to govern issues like this. It is hard to have a system that works for each individual, because everyone has a different condition, family, support system, set of values, etc. that will influence how their end of life care should play out.

  5. Jennifer,
    I like that you discuss how a patient is not looked at as a human being in Western medicine. Patients are looked at almost as machines these days, and death is viewed as the failure of the machine. I believe that as more studies are conducted and we learn more about the brain, the time will come for doctors to consider just how influential our state of mind is on our health. Additionally, I do agree that some cultures put a lot of importance on death. Some religions view it as the final part of life, symbolizing that their spirit has finally reached a kind of enlightenment, or higher state of being. As for healing processes, biomedicine focuses on the individual, and I personally believe that it underestimates the power of the community in the road to recovery. However, some cultures like the Ojibway Indians believe that regular rituals can help keep the integrity of their community. After reading many passages from John Grim’s book “The Shaman,” the religious healing process of the Ojibway is admirable. Shaman rituals are almost always a public function, and according to Grim, the shaman brings healing energy to the community by acting as an anchor between the physical and spiritual world. The spirits are then the ones that provide for the actual process of healing or good fortune to the individual and the community. The book goes into great detail of how shamans communicate with the spirits. It was a great read, but it goes to show how different the healing process can be between two cultures. How someone views the patient’s affliction directly determines how the ill will be treated.

    Grim, John A. The Shaman: Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway Indians. N.p.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987. Accessed July 24, 2016. https://books.google.com/books?id=Xpok57qPZcIC&dq=religious+healing&lr=&source=gbs_navlinks_s.

  6. Hi Jennifer! I really enjoyed your post and thought you made a lot of good points. In fact, some of the things you pointed out were very similar to what I noticed throughout this week’s lecture as well. I, like you, agree with the fact that Western medicine does as much as they can to prolong life through medical and scientific devices. This is very different from other types of medicine, since others may generally be based on religious and spiritual aspects. Our culture also deals a lot with drugs in helping to heal problems with the mind and body, while other cultures might go about these issues in a more holistic way. I think it’s important that Western medicine take these types of healing into account, rather than just focus on healing through drugs and unnatural resources. Like you said, patients dealing with Western medicine are now more accustomed to believing that healing through religion and spirit won’t work as well as prescribed drugs. I thought that was very interesting when you pointed out the fact that patients taking placebo pills, without knowing, found relief because their minds thought that the drugs were giving relief. I thought that was really smart to also point out that the mind does actually have an affect on healing, especially in this regard.

Leave a Reply