Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Christianity and Medical Progress: This will kill you....literally!

I have not read Beyond Belief: Two thousand years of bad faith in the Christian Church by James McDonald, but I have read excerpts; specifically the chapter that speaks to the history of religious obstructionism to advances in medical science.

In the first century AD, Greek physician Celsus was performing cataract operations. He understood the relationship between good hygiene and illness prevention. Amazing advances in medicine continued through the 2nd century AD. But then, with the death of the period’s most famous physician Galen of Pergamum, things screeched to a halt. His writings on medical procedures, anatomy, diagnostics, etc., were lost, likely the victim of Christian destruction.

From 300 AD to almost the end of the 17th century advances in medicine were slowed to a crawl. In the Middle Ages medicine actually regressed. Science and study was replaced with superstitious Christian concepts drawn from Biblical inerrancy which credited all cures to God’s hand just as all illness was a punishment of God; or the work of Satan; of demonic possession, etc. God was credited with curing of illness. If one lived or died it was by the hand of God, it was God’s will. Of course, prayer and penance could influence God’s decision as to the out come. A prayer to one’s patron saint could help too.

To propose man’s intervention, to attempt to alter the course of illness or improve ones chances of survival by actual medical application would be an affront to God; a challenge to God’s divine wisdom and plan. It was heresy.

People died young, and unnecessarily. Suffering prior to death was seen as a penance. Surgery was largely limited to bleedings, or tooth extractions by church edict. Dissections in universities were tolerated, but no research could be done. It was ostensibly an anatomy exercise, repeated without questioning or investigation or experimentation. The following is from McDonald’s book:

“A Greek thinker, Alcmaeon of Crotona, had identified the brain as the central organ in the higher activities of humankind around 500 BC, but 2,000 years later Christian authorities were teaching that the brain was merely a phlegm-secreting gland.”

And so it was when western civilization was ruled by The Church. As its grip was slowly loosened the re-birth of research, discovery, experimentation and the practice of real medicine had its resurgence. The discoveries of Celsus, 1400 years prior, began to be reintroduced in the 16th century even while the church retained authority over who could practice medicine and exactly how much latitude the physician had. Still, exorcisms, torture, mortification of the flesh was the Church’s preferred method to expel illness.

The Church’s obstruction of medical science even extended to their condemnation of small pox inoculations as late as the 19th century.

It continues today - constantly obstructing the health and wellbeing of those it claims to love and care so much about. In matters of reproduction, contraception, AIDS prevention it has a death grip on the minds of its most gullible and susceptible followers. Heart transplants are opposed by some Christian sects since it is considered the repository of the soul. Blood transfusions are forbidden by other sects. Medical care entirely rejected by others in favor of faith healing and prayer. The life of an adult woman is seen as secondary to the life of a deformed and near death infant. Stem cell research, which holds perhaps the most promising advancements to human longevity and quality of life in medical history is roundly opposed, and stringently limited because of Christian objection to the harvesting of stem cells from discarded fetuses.

Yet you will hear Catholics touting their religion’s contribution to education, proclaiming Catholicism the seed of the university system. You’ll hear them extol the discoveries of Gregor Mendel, or point to Dr. Christian Barnard’s religious roots as they stake their claim to the title of “enlightened.”

But then, why should they care about the deaths of millions brought about by religious brain washing and denial of reality? Why should Christianity want to see lives made longer on this planet when the promise of an imaginary paradise offers true relief from ones ailments? Why should the relief of life long pain and the ravages of disease be sought when pain is seen as sharing the suffering of Jesus, and disease part of God’s plan? Yet strangely, Popes, and Bishops, Cardinals and Monsignors will spare no expense on medical science advancements to keep their decrepit bodies, atrophied minds and useless existence in tact.

One can only imagine where medical science would be today had not Christianity impeded its progress and cursed mankind with its arrogance and devotion to superstitious stupidity. A pox on them.


tiNstAg said...

Bart, I couldn't agree more. I always think we were set back scientifically by about a millennium by religion, but you're probably right it's nearer to two! And as for the hypocrisy surrounding medical care, one only has to look at that Catlick poster-child, Mutha Theresa, to see that the death cult's obsession with the afterlife takes precedence over everything the religious idiots do.(

David said...

I read a comment posted on a website discussing whether religion had any contribution to the cause of the Norwegian shootings that accused Atheists of "not having the nads to form an objective opinion based on primary sources". He went on to say that if Atheists did their own research they would be most likely to come to the conclusion that Xtianity is a good thing and has had a net beneficial effect on humanity.

How anyone can consider the Xtian repression of science and discovery that has held back medical science by hundreds of years and come to the conclusion that Xtianity has had a net benefit effect on humankind is beyond me.

The truly amazing medical discoveries and advancements in treatment over the last 150 years that have resulted in our average life spans being extended to the 70s rather than the 30s have been made in spite of religion, and would have been made years earlier if the church had not been so active in repressing science.

tiNstAg said...

David, you have hit the nail on the head by saying our lifespans have been increased through science despite religion. One of the many inconsistencies of the death-cults is that Earth is only a waiting room for the chosen ones prior to "flaayn' up to Hev'n". If someone truly believes this crap then the best logical bet is to die as young as possible before having had a chance to "sin" too much against the sky-daddy. Science is not compatible with all this mumbo-jumbo. Educated religious apologists are having an interesting time at the moment grappling with this. Although the whole idea of a religious scientist is an oxymoron, the following article on npr made me chuckle while driving to work earlier this week:

Cyg said...

400 years before the JC-meister, Hippocrates said, "Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it... We will one day understand what causes it, and then cease to call it divine. And so it is with everything in the universe."

Then, 400 years later, came the JC-meister. In a story that begins around Mark 9:14, JC leans his disciples have botched a child's exorcism. Well, duh, his symptoms reveal him to be an epileptic. But JC says, "Bring the boy to me!"

As soon as the boy gets there, a seizure grips him. JC, seemingly stalling for time, asks "how long has he been this way?" Because, of course, he wouldn't want to use the wrong spell.

Fortunately for JC, he apparently mutters his ooga-boogas just in time for the seizure to stop. Yippee, the boy is cured!

And then, I kid you not, the next verse following this story reads: "They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were." (Mark 9:30)

Having doubts about your "cure" there, JC? Better high-tail it out of town and lay low for a while.

This reminds me of my dog barking at the mail carrier. 100% of the time, the mail carrier leaves, proving to my dog the effectiveness of her actions.

longhorn believer said...

Well said Bart. I loved your comments, Cyg. In addition to the lives that are lost and suffering caused by religious stupidity, I also mourn the lost human capital that results from religious indoctrination. People who could have contributed beautiful art, music, books, technology advancements or even just providing a better education for the next generation of religionists all wasted because getting to church three or four times a week and making heaven is more important. Our species is killing itself over superstitious nonsense. It's maddening!