When considering a therapy, we should be interested in whether it really does something useful. The fact that a therapy actually does something is not the only thing to consider. There are things beyond what a therapy can physically do that are important to consider. Some of these ought to be show stoppers (ought to guide us away from involvement).
You may notice, when I consider evidence that demonstrates effectiveness of therapies, that the evidence involves a variety of comparative studies that are really a part of experimental science. An interesting fact about this experimental science is that it is a product of the reformation of the church in the 1500s. Christianity seeks the truth. Seeking the truth about nature around us is what experimental science is about. The climate of Christian renewal that swept across the world in the 1500s led to experimental science studies. It is experimental science that has led to many of the amazing advances in society and in medical care. So, evidence based on good comparative studies has its roots in Christian truth.
Across what was once the Christian world, there has been a relatively rapid movement away from Christian foundations. Truth has become less important. How one feels and what one thinks, rather than the fact of what is, (“what is” refers to what is actually the truth) have started to take the place of experimental science. Although society considers itself progressive, the foundations that are replacing the facts of experimental science are not new. They have ancient roots. This should not be surprising to Christians. For, does not the book of Ecclesiastes tell us that “there is nothing new under the sun.”
There are a few ancient belief systems that make up the foundations of most of the alternative therapies that are not founded on the experimental sciences. Each of these belief systems is antithetical to (or in opposition to) that of Biblical Christianity.
A number of alternative therapies are based on the Chinese belief system, Taoism. Taoism holds that health and well being is based on a balance of energy (called chi) in the body. It teaches that there are two kinds of energy or chi. One is a kind of good energy and the other is a kind of bad energy. Taoism teaches that health or well being comes from having a balance of these two energies flowing properly through the body. A symbol of Taoism, the Yin Jang symbol, represents a balance of good and bad, with the good represented by white and the bad by black. Therapies based on Taoism use various methods that are said to affect the flow of energy along a variety of energy pathways in the body called meridians. If a therapy refers to balancing energy, chi, Yin Jang, energy pathways, or meridians it is likely trusting in the ways of Taoism. Biblically, health is not a balance of good and bad. A Christians goal is to put off bad and promote what is good. Biblically, the mixing of bad with good results in bad, not balance. Should a Christian promote or involve themselves in therapies based on a balance of good and bad energies?
Another system of belief behind a number of alternative therapies is based on Hinduism and related belief systems. These belief systems are difficult to define. Christianity teaches that there is one God and directs many to the one. Hinduism believes that there are many gods and directs the each person to find themselves in the many. Should a Christian involve themselves in therapies that that encourage us to, or are related to, us being or becoming part of the divine? Hinduism and related systems, like Taoism, also talks a lot about energy, the balancing of energy, the awakening of energy and link what happens to these energies to health and wellness. While Christianity speaks of people as a distinct body and a distinct soul, in Hinduism there seems to be a blurring of the distinctions between body and soul, between the physical and the energy. In one system it is believed that by modifying energy in the body a tumor can be healed. Should Christians involve themselves in therapies that focus on various energies and the modifying of various energies, rather than accepting the Biblical construct of a physical body and an a connected immaterial soul?
The last belief system I will mention differs from Christianity in a less subtle way then that of Taoism and Hinduism. This system acknowledges the spirit world as described in the Bible. Practitioners of this system include those of Shamanism, Wicca, the Druids, and even Satanism. They, in various ways, attempt to connect with the spirit world. When it comes to therapies, spirits or connection with spirits are thought to bring about the desired effect. Christians believe that there is a spirit world comprised of angels and evil spirits and that Satan is the ruler of the evil spirits, while angels are servants of the Lord God. The bible does not teach us to call on angels to heal us and it warns against calling up the spirit world. The bible points us to only one supernatural healer, the one true God, the Lord God who is the triune, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Should a Christian consult a therapist who is in any way connected any other spirit or supernatural being?
As in all things we place our trust in when we seek medical therapies, whether from conventional or alternative camps, we should be concerned about the source of the evidence or encouragement behind the therapy. Is it based in truth or is its founded on a non Christian philosophy?.
-this blog posting is part of a series – the next in the series, Alternative Medicine – Evidence. Subjective versus Objective
-the first posting in this series – Alternative Medicine – Important Questions
-For all postings on Alternative Medicine – Alternative Medicine Postings Page