Category Archives: Medicine
… or how streptomycin proves, or disproves, God I’m still interested in showing how God appears to be hidden in the workings of the world more because the prevailing materialist worldview is blind to him than because he is intrinsically invisible. There was a long (and ongoing) discussion on BioLogos recently based on a case-study I gave of a healing in response to prayer. I could have perhaps sorted the materialists (believing as well as unbelieving) from the atheists better by choosing a less “religious” example, such as the kind of phenomena pretty familiar in everyday life, but absolutely verboten in serious discourse, such as premonitions, knowledge of being watched … Continue reading
Spoiler alert: this is a change of tack from recent serious philosophical posts. The only real conclusion will be, “What an interesting world we live in”, with a slight flavour of that old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”
I’ve written before that miracles are not the most important theological issue I have with methodological naturalism: special providence is, because Scripture describes it as all-pervasive in the affairs of both man and the natural world. God is constantly active, according to the Bible, in managing his household, including by the answering of prayers, and I remain unconvinced that we can properly understand the physical world without somehow accommodating that truth. But nevertheless I want today to consider specifically miracles of healing rather than daily providence, because I’ve been reading about them recently.
One of the more glorious moments of my not especially glorious medical career was that I was, quite accidentally, instrumental in catalyzing a medical conference on prostate cancer screening in our town. Here’s how it happened.
The placebo effect always interested me when I was in medical practice. After all, it’s the only treatment that works across the entire spectrum of illness and the standard against which all other drug effects are judged. I caught the repeat of a BBC documentary on it here (unfortunately UK readers will only be able to catch it for a couple of weeks and those in foreign parts not at all. Sorry).
A nice story in The Independent: A new (old) cure for MRSA? Revolting recipe from the Dark Ages may be key to defeat infection. The story, as I hope you’ll read, speaks of a “stomach-churning potion…”, a mediaeval eye-salve which nevertheless has been found to treat MRSA. The journalistic aim of the piece is to amaze one that the Neanderthal ignorance of the Dark Ages could accidentally produce something which, though inevitably Dark and Horrible, pluckily rivals the infallible results of Science™.
Last week I wrote about a recent sociology paper that has revealed a significant social grouping in the US, which they call “Post-secularists”. I suggested that the most interesting thing is not so much the nature of the new demographic as the fact that it was only after someone changed the kind of questions being asked that the phenomenon become visible to science. Here’s another instance of how science cannot be separated from sociology.
A shift in tack today, prompted by the UK parliament’s current discussions on the euphemistic “assisted suicide” (meaning your doctor is ordered to kill you). I’ve actually lost count of the number of times this has been debated nationally. Certainly I made a submission to the House of Lords Select Committee in 2004, and during a previous incarnation of the bill I discussed the matter with my MP Simon Burns, then the Shadow Minister for Health (and later the real one), whose opinion was that there was no significant support at all for such a move in Parliament.
An interesting snippet caught my ear on the BBC news today. It was about a poetry competition organised by Yale University and London’s UCL for medical and engineering students. The iniator was cardiologist and published poet Prof John Martin, and his motivation for doing so: “Medical students are at risk of becoming ‘intellectually brutalized’…conditioned to focus upon the microscopic at the expense of the holistic.”
… according to the undirected-evolution TEs, God created chance. Like everything else he sustains it in being moment by moment. But he’s somehow still able to catch himself out with it. It’s a bit like being able to laugh when you tickle yourself, or to pick a random number and then be unable to guess it. It’s not so much that it’s remarkable to be able to do it, but remarkable why he’d bother.