Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Miraculous Jesus Pill: Use Only as Directed

I doubt there is an atheist alive who hasn’t heard a Christian attribute a spontaneous healing, injury pain reduction, or their recovery from an addiction to Jesus’ direct involvement. I dare say that there are thousands upon thousands of Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, and every other flavor of supernatural belief, who will likewise attest to their prophet, God, or gods’ beneficial healing power.

Not all of these things are lies or delusions. In fact, it’s likely that the majority of the claims are actually being truthfully attested to by the devout theist. How is this possible?

Let me quote from Wiki:

“The placebo effect or placebo response is a therapeutic or healing effect of an inert medicine or ineffective therapy, … due to the individual expecting or believing that it will work. The placebo effect occurs when a patient is treated in conjunction with the suggestion from an authority figure or from acquired information that the treatment will aid in healing and the patient’s condition improves.”

Whether it’s a sugar pill given by a medical authority, a monkey turd talisman given by a witch doctor, or a minister’s suggestion of divine intervention by murmuring a prescribed prayer, the power of placebo is undeniable and observable. What science doesn’t fully understand is how the mechanism actually works.

Unfortunately, unlike sugar pills, there is an addictive element to the Jesus Placebo. Once a beneficiary of that effect believes that all their ills, all their tribulations, all their personal weaknesses and failures can be overcome by the Jesus pill, they become addicted to it. That addiction is manifested by increased dependency on the supernatural, and a corresponding devaluation of their own ability, own self worth, own strength, and own accountability for their lives and future. i.e. “I couldn’t have overcome my alcoholism with out Jesus! Maybe he’ll help me get a job now.”

And when the illness / pain returns which it invariably does, a medical doctor will explain to the patient the reason, and prescribe an effective medication. But, there isn’t a shaman, a witch doctor, a minister, or a priest who will admit to the “patient” they were fed a faith placebo. Why should they? What possible benefit could come from telling them the truth? So, instead of prescribing a double dose of reality they deduce that the patient’s faith was weak, and prescribe more and higher does of their religious placebo.
“Take two Jesus’ and see me next Sunday.”

The mind is a wonderful thing. That religion messes with it so badly is akin to malpractice.

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