“Why Doesn’t the Bible Contain Superior Medical Advice?”

I understand that the current wave of religious fanaticism is scary and annoying. We are all equally fed up with fanatics trying to destroy the advances of enlightened societies. I get it, people, we all fear that the world will plunge into the depths of barbarity. Practicing complete and utter idiocy, however, is not a good response to that. The attitude of “I’ll combat jerkdom by being the baddest jerk of all bad jerks” will only add to the problem.

I’m saying all this because the proliferation of articles that try to ridicule holy texts is very disturbing to me. Here is the most recent example:

Many will consider the answer to the question posed in the title of this post obvious, as indeed do I: The Bible does not contain superior medical knowledge, or indeed anything that we might consider medical knowledge in the modern sense at all, because it was written before there was any medical knowledge, much less advanced medical knowledge.

I always feel very embarrassed when people are so militant in their stupidity. I see absolutely no difference between the author of this inane post and folks who, instead of saying “My intellectual limitations and lack of knowledge prevent me from understanding evolution”, proudly deliver the “Evolution is just a theory, anyways” line.

If the author of this strange piece took the trouble of chewing before blabbering, he’d very easily find out the following two things:

a) the Bible (whether you believe in its divine nature or consider it simply a work of literature) contains some of the very best practices of psychological hygiene that humanity has been able to come up with. Just a small example among many: have you seen Jews at prayer? How is what they do any different from stimming, an anxiety-reducing practice that helps autistics and non-autistics alike?

b) the very point of practicing a religion (any religion) is to maintain one’s psychological and, consequently, physical health in a way that the pill-popping, “cut it out and then think about it later”, chemically-dependent, “superior” medical knowledge will not be necessary. Don’t practice this approach to life if you don’t feel like it. But, at least, strain your intellect and realize that if a religious text discussed triple bypasses and anti-spasmolytics, it would stop being a religious text.

Religious fanatics annoy us because they allow for no space where people can have alternative worldviews and organize their lives according to different principles. It is sad, indeed, that many non-religious folks also become fanatical to the point where, in their zeal to promote their point of view as the only correct one, they cannot even accept the idea that different value systems can be just as valid as theirs.

18 thoughts on ““Why Doesn’t the Bible Contain Superior Medical Advice?””

  1. “the very point of practicing a religion (any religion) is to maintain one’s psychological and, consequently, physical health”

    I am not surprised the author didn’t know it because most religious people don’t know it either. F.e. when 1 religious Jew was asked RE the movements, he could only answer that he was taught to pray thus.

    You wrote “the very point…”, but don’t religious people don’t think like that? I mean, don’t think that believing has this point and not, say, not burning in hell point. Probably I was simply confused by the wording, when it seemed as if the goal of religion is psychological health.

    Could you may be write a post on the topic of religion & psychological health with examples? It’s very curious for atheists too and not usually written about topic, except “I feel the love of God” unhelpful to me general statements.

    Also since I recently again read about this:
    On January 9th, at an event marking the 47th anniversary of the founding of Fatah, Mohammed Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, vehemently called for the killing of Jews. He declared, “The hour of judgment will not come until you fight the Jews… The Jews will hide behind the stone and behind the tree. The stone and the tree will cry, ‘Oh Muslim, Oh Servant of God, this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”

    Result:
    Israel’s attorney general has ordered police to launch an investigation of Jerusalem’s top Muslim cleric after the mufti quoted a traditional text that called for killing Jews.

    http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/01/24/3091331/investigation-opened-into-jerusalem-mufti

    I wanted to ask you 1 question. I understood that you said that Quran as other 2 religious texts (Bible – Old & New) is great in itself, but may be used by ignorant fanatics with incorrect translations and that you read it. Do you remember this excerpt? Doesn’t Quran have many anti-semitic passages like the quoted above when Muhammad started gaining power and distanced himself from Jews? Which interpretation do you give it except the simplest of “Let’s Kill Those Jews” (and is understood as such by most Muslims)? I don’t want to complain or be provocative here, I am honestly curious RE your take on it.

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    1. “I am not surprised the author didn’t know it because most religious people don’t know it either. ”

      – They do. They just call it with a different name. When non-religious people speak of the psyche, the religious people speak of the soul. Terminology differs but the meaning remains.

      As for the article you quote, it doesn’t mention any quote from the Koran. It talks of “a traditional text attributed to the Prophet Muhammad that says”. I can attribute any barbaric statement to you, for example. Would that make it true?

      In the actual Koran, the Jews are considered “dhimmi” ( or the people of the Book) and every Muslim is exhorted to protect the dhimmi. This is precisely why Jews were freed from slavery, allowed to practice their religion in peace and given positions of high power at Muslim court in Muslim Spain.

      “A dhimmī (Arabic: ذمي‎ ḏimmī IPA: [ˈðɪmmiː]), (collectively أهل الذمة ahl al-ḏimmah/dhimmah, “the people of the dhimma”) is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means “one whose responsibility has been taken”.[1] This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam. Dhimma allows rights of residence in return for taxes.[2] According to scholars, Dhimmi’s have the same social responsibilities and rights as Muslims.[3][4] They are excused or excluded from specific duties assigned to Muslims, and otherwise equal under the laws of property, contract and obligation.[5]
      Under sharia law, dhimmi status was originally afforded to Jews, Christians, and Sabians.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhimmi

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  2. Thanks for the article, people ask questions about the bible a lot. Where’s the history of science? Medicine? Man? The bible contains “some” of each of these but the purpose of the bible is not the history of man but the history of redemption.
    Praying does give a person some benefit in itself just like dumping on your friends can help relieve the stress of the day but the reason for prayer is not phycological health by divine help.
    Know this everyday God’s desire is to bless us, know us and for us to know Him. This is why Christ came.

    Thanks again and God bless you on your search!

    Dwight

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        1. The judge is probably in the grip of Alzheimers. Muslim speaking countries? Seriously? He is an idiot who made an idiotic ruling.

          The issue of Catholic church denying birth control coverage is a lot more complex and definitely not as open and shut as many people seem to think.

          Thank you for the interesting link!

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  3. //The issue of Catholic church denying birth control coverage is a lot more complex and definitely not as open and shut as many people seem to think.

    May be you could write about it too?

    Glad you liked the link, I was afraid of posting too many today.

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  4. The equation of knowledge with positivist knowledge is to blame. That is why I see such value in Bataille’s conceptualisation of “mystical experience” as “non-knowledge” — although, what he really means by that is deep subjectivity.

    I’ve had USA citizens positively yelling at me online, because they feel a very profound need to cut loose from the religiosity they are, apparently, surrounded by. The tone of this screaming is that I’m somehow regressing from the standard they would like to set, by embracing deep subjectivity.

    I do consider their attitudes to be philistine, whilst displaying an inability to separate their own cultural issues (the desire to be done with USA religiosity) from other people’s ideas and experiences.

    There really is no harm in growing up and realizing that one’s own personal agenda may differ from that of another who has had different experiences and has been brought up differently.

    As I’ve mentioned on this site before, one of these guy’s views was that one must be compelled to embrace the meaninglessness of existence. One wonders what fearsome god he has erected in his head that would command him to embrace “meaninglessness” as a way of proving his atheism. This formulation may seem logically consistent on the surface, but in the absence of a god that commands atheism, it makes no sense at all.

    People can be remarkably stupid.

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    1. “I do consider their attitudes to be philistine, whilst displaying an inability to separate their own cultural issues (the desire to be done with USA religiosity) from other people’s ideas and experiences.”

      – This is very true. People are so sick and tired from religious fanatics running things into the ground in the US that they start throwing out the baby with the bathwater. What they don’t realize, however, is that dismissing the possibility of these alternative ideas and practices they are, in fact, paying tribute to those very fanatics they hate. Is there a greater enslavement to fanatics than the one where you deny yourself opportunities for personal growth because those fanatics exist?

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  5. Criticising the Bible for not containing medical advice seems stupid. At the same time, I think religious people and organizations do like to invoke science on their own in order to gain more credibility with the non-believers. Hence the popularity of Christian/Islamic Science and intelligent design. They seem to think if they include *any* math or physics into their explanations, they’ll be able to convince the skeptics. I think it hurts them even more because now they’re not talking belief, they’re talking real facts and figures, which opens them up for scrutiny from anyone with a basic understanding of these things. And that’s a debate they just can not win.

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  6. If you’re interested, the judge decided to explain himself here:
    http://volokh.com/2012/02/25/zombie-mohammed-judge-responds/

    And this comment from Pandagon made the situation clearer to me:
    1 – A ‘magistrate’ in Pennsylvania is roughly the equivant of a Justice of the Peace in most states – the lowest level of the judiciary, who spends most of his courtroom time handling traffic tickets and landlord-tenant cases. IANAL, but the likelihood of any magistrate court’s decision being cited as precedent is very slim.

    2 – It’s good to see American conservatives voice support for the 1st Amendment rights of atheists for a change. Still, this case involves one a**hole, one man not acting very intelligently, and a judge who thought “They have no record, nobody got hurt, they’ve lost a day of work, come to court in their good suits, now they’re gonna listen to me talk at length, and I’ll send them home and hope they won’t bother the legal system in the future”. Probably same thing he thought about the two guys before them who got arrested in a scuffle outside a bar at closing time. _De minimus non curat lex_ …

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    1. That’s what I thought, too. Some insignificant, very uneducated guy (judging by the language) said something very stupid. We can’t expect him to have a great familiarity with the law.

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