Is so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) compatible with Christian beliefs? This is not a question that often robs me of my sleep, yet it seems an interesting issue to explore during the Christmas holiday. So, I did a few searches and – would you believe it? – found a ‘Christian Checklist’ as applied to SCAM Since it is by no means long, let me present it to you in full:

  1. Taking into consideration the lack of scientific evidence available, can it be recommended with integrity?
  2. What are its roots? Is there an eastern religious basis (Taoism or Hinduism)? Is it based on life force or vitalism?
  3. Are there any specific spiritual dangers involved? Does its method of diagnosis or practice include occult practices, all forms of which are strictly forbidden in Scripture.

Now, let me try to answer the questions that the checklist poses:

  1. No! – particularly not, if the SCAM endangers the health of the person who uses it (which, as we have discussed so often can occur in multiple ways).
  2. Most SCAMs have their roots in eastern religions, life force, or vitalism. Very few are based on Christian ideas or assumptions.
  3. If we define ‘occult’ as anything that is hidden or mysterious, we are bound to see that almost all SCAMs are occult.

What surprises me with the ‘Christian Checklist’ is that it makes no mention of ethics. I would have thought that this might be an important issue for Christians. Am I mistaken? I have often pointed out that the practice of SCAM nearly invariably violates fundamental rules of ethics.

In any case, the checklist makes one thing quite clear: by and large, SCAM is nothing that Christians should ever contemplate employing. This article (which I have quoted before) seems to confirm my point:

The Vatican’s top exorcist has spoken out in condemnation of yoga … , branding [it] as “Satanic” acts that lead[s] to “demonic possession”. Father Cesare Truqui has warned that the Catholic Church has seen a recent spike in worldwide reports of people becoming possessed by demons and that the reason for the sudden uptick is the rise in popularity of pastimes such as watching Harry Potter movies and practicing Vinyasa.

Professor Giuseppe Ferrari … says that … activities such as yoga, “summon satanic spirits” … Monsignor Luigi Negri, the archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio, who also attended the Vatican crisis meeting, claimed that homosexuality is “another sign” that “Satan is in the Vatican”. The Independent reports: Father Cesare says he’s seen many an individual speaking in tongues and exhibiting unearthly strength, two attributes that his religion says indicate the possibility of evil spirits inhabiting a person’s body. “There are those who try to turn people into vampires and make them drink other people’s blood, or encourage them to have special sexual relations to obtain special powers,” stated Professor Ferrari at the meeting. “These groups are attracted by the so-called beautiful young vampires that we’ve seen so much of in recent years.”

You might take such statements not all that seriously – the scorn of the vatican does not concern you?

Yet, the ‘Christian Checklist’ also raises worries much closer to home. King Charles is the head of the Anglican Church. Undeniably, he also is a long-term, enthusiastic supporter of many of those ‘quasi-satanic’ SCAMs. How are we supposed to reconsile these contradictions, tensions, and conflicts?

Please advise!

25 Responses to A ‘Christian Checklist’ for so-called alternative medicine

  • Many hospitals in US are affiliated with Christian beliefs, outright run them and own them. Pretty sure they are not involved in SCAM. Many are involved with advances in medical science. 1 in 5 patients see a religious hospital that practice evidence medicine. My hospital is Catholic affiliated and my Dr. Is pure science based, have all my vaccines.

    • I won’t go near them if they are Catholic–they won’t perform any sterilizations, which is just offensive. Not sure they would give a woman her daily oral contraceptive if she were hospitalized for a week! Ridiculous nonsense I the 21st century.

      • Not sure they would give a woman her daily oral contraceptive if she were hospitalized for a week!

        A cis-gendered straight dude is most likely to get the best evidence-based health care service at a catholic health care facility. “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” might come in the way of providing the same for those who don’t fall in the above said category.

        The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services are guidelines created by Catholic church leaders that apply to all health care institutions within Catholic health care facilities. Strict interpretation of these religious directives prohibits the provision of contraception, including sterilization for contraceptive purposes, abortion care, many fertility treatments including in vitro fertilization, and gender-affirming care for transgender individuals. In other words, Catholic hospitals do not facilitate simple access to sexual and reproductive health services.

        The association between Catholic religious directives and the clinical outcomes of health care provision cannot be understated. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the nation’s largest women’s health organization representing over 58 000 obstetricians and gynecologists, has expressed concern over the growing number of health care systems that limit sexual and reproductive health care services. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also firmly asserts that people should have access to scientifically based health care, stating, “Prohibitions on essential care that are based on religious or other non-scientific grounds can jeopardize women’s health and safety.” There have been numerous examples of non–evidence-based care resulting in poor health outcomes published in the literature and the general news media, including women denied appropriate counseling and treatment for ectopic pregnancy and concerning delays in care for inevitable miscarriage when fetal cardiac activity is present.

        The Catholic health-care facilities follow directives from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that prohibit treatment it deems “immoral”: sterilization including vasectomies, postpartum tubal ligations and contraception, as well as abortion. Those policies can limit treatment options for obstetric care during miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, particularly in the presence of a fetal heartbeat.

        “The directives are not just a collection of dos and don’ts,” said John F. Brehany, executive vice president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and a longtime consultant to the conference of bishops. “They are a distillation of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church as they apply to modern health care.” As such, he said, any facility that identifies as Catholic must abide by them.

        Issued by the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, the Ethical and Religious Directives that guide Catholic health care systems “prohibit a broad swath of reproductive care,” including birth control pills, IUDs, tubal ligation and vasectomies, says Dr. Debra Stulberg, a professor of family medicine at the University of Chicago who has researched how these directives play out in health care.

  • “Begin delving online into the church’s position on alternative medicine and prepare to get lost in thickets of dire warnings against yoga, contemplative prayer, meditation and even pilates.”

  • I certainly don’t take the Vatican seriously – remind me, who is it runs the very profitable scam known as Lourdes? Its opposition is no more than hostility to competing world views and religions. And there are plenty of Christian based scams around such as the various forms of faith healing and sects which reject most medical interventions.

    Vitalism in one form or another does seem to underpin many scams but it’s not uniquely eastern – you can also trace it through Greek and medieval European thinking, the theory of the humours and so on. And I don’t think anyone has claimed any specific eastern influence on homeopathy.

    Perhaps the story is better described as “Vatican scammer turns on scammers”.

    • A further thought – anthroposophy, and hence anthroposophical medicine, split away from theosophy largely because Steiner thought the latter was too eastern focused and he wanted a stronger Christian basis. Admittedly his own monstrous ego and racism played a part too – he was offended when Krishnamurti, referred to by Steiner as “the little brown boy”, was announced as the new world spiritual leader.

      Most anthroposophists would think of themselves as Christian, though whether most Christians would agree is another matter.

  • As if Christianity isn’t rooted in superstition, please! Plenty of Christians (especially those known as evangelicals in the US) eschew science entirely or take it piecemeal when it suits them. There are numerous cases of parents praying only and denying any medical care for diabetic children. These are extreme, but demonstrate where such beliefs can lead.\

    • Wouldn’t that be true for most religions?

    • I always find myself slightly conflicted in discussions of religion. Just to be clear, I have absolutely no belief in the supernatural, gods, souls and all that. But in practice the broad description of religion included a lot of philosophy, psychology and science. And also established churches were often the key source of power and therefore attractive to those who wanted to do good as well as those who only wanted power and evil.

      When young I was attracted to Buddhism, but of course that was a western philosophical view of Buddhism which excluded much of the superstition of everyday religion in the countries where it is established. I still think that it has many insights, as to be fair do some Christian philosophers, once the supernaturalism is stripped away. But it is embarrassing to see some of the ideas presented as a quick and cheap self help remedy – yes, that’s mindfulness.

  • To have a Christian (or any religious) faith is to believe something entirely without scientific evidence and accept things contrary to established scientific fact (the oft quoted ghosts – Holy or otherwise- in violation of the second law of thermodynamics for example). Blind faith is blind faith- be it in SCAM or religiosity and I am sure they make excellent bedfellows.

    • Google scientists and religion, half believe in a higher power. Much research on this subject.
      You are are literally saying half of scientists should be considered scam artists, charlatans.

  • Most hospitals in US do not perform abortions unless in dire circumstance. Our Doctors take an oath to save lives. Most abortions are facilitated at a clinic, a nurse or PA are allowed to do procedure. No doctor needed.

  • Explain why humans have all the power to rule this globe? We are one of million species to control our life. Why are we so special? Scientists have no clue why we exist. Why are roads built, buildings, anything to make our life easier.
    How am I communicating on a small device to people who live 7000 miles away instantly?
    Scientists cannot explain our very existence.

    • “How am I communicating on a small device to people who live 7000 miles away instantly?”

      You’re not, so no explanation is required.

      “Scientists cannot explain our very existence.”

      Correction: Jim cannot explain our very existence.

      • “How am I communicating on a small device to people who live 7000 miles away instantly?”

        “You’re not, so no explanation is required.”
        I am, iphone 12

        “Scientists cannot explain our very existence.”

        “Correction: Jim cannot explain our very existence.”
        Answer the question? I don’t know answer.

        • If you mean “why is there something rather than nothing” then I would agree, we can’t answer it. In fact I’m not even sure we can conceive what an answer would be like. Certainly religions offer no credible answer. And that most philosophical of religions, Buddhism, doesn’t even think it’s a worthwhile question.

          However, given that there is something, science can give a good explanation of why that something is how it is rather than something other.

          As for your earlier comment that many scientists hold religious beliefs all that shows is that we may apply different criteria to different areas of thought. If an eminent scientist believes in a god that no more convinces me than if he were to declare Kanye West a greater composer than Beethoven.

          • “why is there something rather than nothing”

            Because “something” [i.e. any one of the myriad of possible things that could occur] is many orders of magnitude more likely to occur than “nothing” [nothing at all].

            For our universe to produce “nothing”, it would require that all particles, once formed, remain equidistant for the lifetime of the universe: no clumping together of matter. That was not only extremely unlikely, given the random nature of processes in the universe, one of the few things we know with absolute certainty is that our universe didn’t produce “nothing”.

            Perhaps a similar question is “why do we have the Moon?” Well, if we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t be here on Earth asking this question, or the question “why is there something rather than nothing?”.

          • Pete Atkins

            The “why is there something rather than nothing” question is a bit more extreme than you imply. It embraces the possibility of no universe, no particles no processes – just nothing. A minor consequence of this would be no you or me asking the question.

            But as you say, the one thing we know for certain is that there is something. Descartes attempt to doubt this was just a Jesuitical trick to make everything dependent on his god.

        • “iphone 12” answers your own question, unless you are a Jobist…

          Other question: why just select humans? What about goldcrests? I like goldcrests.

        • “How am I communicating on a small device to people who live 7000 miles away instantly?”

          “I am, iphone 12”

          No, you are not communicating instantly to people who live 7000 miles away. Your question is inept (to push the principle of charity beyond its limits).

          I hope you don’t reply that your use of the words “communicating” and “instantly”, used in your context of communications, didn’t really mean “communicating instantly”, because doing so would be equivocation and tantamount to trolling.

          Two of the primary reasons why people don’t understand things, and believe that nobody else does either:
          1. they didn’t learn maths and science from first principles;
          2. they didn’t acquire critical thinking skills.

          Note: Echo suppression and cancellation is required in long-distance telephony because the electronic communication is far from being instantaneous.

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