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True2Ourselves Forums   > Community Topics > Christianity & Science  > Religion and science as medical care

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Old 03-07-2009, 09:26 AM
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Default Religion and science as medical care

I'm aware that there are other threads going of similar lines: the ethics of cloning, and drawing the line between science and faith. But I'd like to take a walk down the path of medical ethics overall and religion.

Where do we begin the discussion of freedom of religion, medical advancements, societal good, and ethics overall? We have all heard more than we care to about the Suleman 14: all born out of wedlock via IVF. We watched the battle play out in 2005 as Schiavo's husband fought her parents to remove a feeding tube that sustained life. We followed closely the case of death row inmate Reyes-Camarena as he had a heart transplant. Daily throughout the world, individuals are making medical choices to access or accept medical care that produces, prolongs, or ends life. In many instances, these things are considered "standard care": heart valve replacements, dialysis, fertilization drugs, and the list goes on.... Yet not all are acceptable to every faith, not all are approved by society, and some prove harmful in the long run to the patient.

The result has been turmoil, hate, inequity, and division. Each issue has 2 sides: fertilization/abortion, life support/euthanasia, accepting lifesaving treatment/rejecting it. Over and over we fight these things out as religion vs. science. At what point are we playing god and where do we draw the lines? Is religion "sacred" and should always be the trump card in a medical battle over care? Is the individual's right to freedom the ace in the hole over community good? Or is standard medical care the work of god and always acceptable?
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Old 03-10-2009, 06:30 AM
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Default Re: Religion and science as medical care

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Originally Posted by NotFinishedYet View Post
At what point are we playing god and where do we draw the lines?
We don't draw lines. Where would we be now if we drew lines a few decades ago? A few centuries ago? We do everything that is morally acceptable to learn as much as we can and apply that knowledge to ourselves.

Were we playing God when we developed medicine to a point where we could save someone who would have died from minor ailments? When we completed the first transfusion, developed the first antibiotics? Did we play God when Barnardo swapped that first heart?

We live 4 times as long as we did a very short time ago in the grand scheme of things. The way that we're heading, there will be a time when we reach a point where bodily ailments will no longer worry us (too late for me, dammit). How many bits can you actually replace. Maybe all of it.

If there's a God, why wouldn't He want us to live as long as possible. If a few hundred years was OK for Noah, then I'd be up for it. Whatever it took, bearing in mind the quality of life aspect. I have no religion to prevent me hanging in there as long as I can. There's not a lot of anything for me when this ends. I don't fear death, but I hate missing out on anything and you miss a hell of a lot when you're dead. Do not go gentle into that good night!

And aye, there's the rub. Quality of life. Would you want to live as a burden to others? Is a life consisting of simply existing and having no meaning worth continuing? No. So as much as I'd like to carry on for as long as possible, I can see some point where I'd want it to end and I'd like to think that by the time that happens, I'll be allowed to choose the moment myself.
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Old 03-10-2009, 07:48 AM
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Default Re: Religion and science as medical care

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Originally Posted by Brad View Post
We don't draw lines. Where would we be now if we drew lines a few decades ago? A few centuries ago? We do everything that is morally acceptable to learn as much as we can and apply that knowledge to ourselves.
Morally acceptable by who's standards? Throughout history there have been medical experiments conducted that crossed the lines into torture and depravity in the name of advancing science. While we have some minimum standards that determine the scope of research, we battle over and over what is acceptable areas of research or conduct. And when those standards win out, what are they based on? Common human good or religious principles? I point to our current stem cell battle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
Were we playing God when we developed medicine to a point where we could save someone who would have died from minor ailments? When we completed the first transfusion, developed the first antibiotics? Did we play God when Barnardo swapped that first heart?
I would argue yes that many of those tools put us in the place of being god. There is a natural pattern to life that is set up and while many medicines themselves are natural tools of healing, you're mixing here natural tools with man-made interference. God (or nature which ever you prefer) gave you life with a heart that beats x amount of times before it stops. Man gives you a new heart, interfering with the natural order of your life. Even worse, with this process man has set up a hierarchy to arbitrarily decide who gets that heart, liver, kidney, lung..... in some cultures that's based on insurance, some age, some addictions... Seems like playing God to determine who should live and who should die.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
We live 4 times as long as we did a very short time ago in the grand scheme of things. The way that we're heading, there will be a time when we reach a point where bodily ailments will no longer worry us (too late for me, dammit). How many bits can you actually replace. Maybe all of it.

If there's a God, why wouldn't He want us to live as long as possible.
If a few hundred years was OK for Noah, then I'd be up for it. Whatever it took, bearing in mind the quality of life aspect. I have no religion to prevent me hanging in there as long as I can. There's not a lot of anything for me when this ends. I don't fear death, but I hate missing out on anything and you miss a hell of a lot when you're dead. Do not go gentle into that good night!

And aye, there's the rub. Quality of life. Would you want to live as a burden to others? Is a life consisting of simply existing and having no meaning worth continuing? No. So as much as I'd like to carry on for as long as possible, I can see some point where I'd want it to end and I'd like to think that by the time that happens, I'll be allowed to choose the moment myself.
There's the crux of the problem. In believing in God and the fall of man, I think that part of the natural consequences built into the human body was the lowering of the longevity of life years from Adam to now. While one of my relatives lived to 110, that's way a bit over the current norm. Yet modern medicine prolongs our lives in ways that are not natural (portable respirators, dialysis, etc) tying us to earth and keeping us from heaven (or nothingness). Often times we are given these choices to make not fully knowing the consequences: start taking a medicine to control a symptom and then find you can never stop taking it or you'll die. You didn't know when you 1st popped that little pill that it would prolong your life. Or the classic collapse on the street with a heart attack and while you're ready to meet your maker, the rescue team is legally mandated to keep you in this realm whether it's as a vegetable or not.


The question of "quality of life" brings us back to that 1st question. By who's moral standards? Is it life at all costs no matter what that "life" is, or is it life and death go hand in hand and not all life should be preserved? Is religion sacred and therefore has the upper hand in the vote for medical advancement/decisions, or should things such as science, reason, individual rights or common good the main players?

I personally want to slide into home plate at the end of the game without being tagged by another player, so I can yell "what a game!"
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Why are we here, what's life all about? Is God really real, or is there some doubt? Well tonight we're going to sort it all out: For tonight it's the meaning of life" Not Finished Yet
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:54 PM
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Default Re: Religion and science as medical care

I know this may seem somewhat simplistic but I think medicine and science have suffered from the same set of unredeemed human traits as business and politics. The desire to make money, to gain fame, to rise to the top of the game and political pressure have driven men and women to do unbelievable things. I think medicine and science were given to us by God to do good for mankind as a whole but they have suffered severely from human greed and politics. Some of the points made by Brad are valid. We all in the modern world have enjoyed benefits purchased by the suffering of others in the past. My contention is that we could have all we have now and more without the stigma of human sacrifice. I don't think God has any problem with us living long happy lives. I don't think He finds fault with medicine. Medicine can't actually do for you what only God can do anyway. I just don't believe He thinks it fair to sacrifice one human life for another. Godly oversight makes all the difference. As it says in scripture "The whole creation groans as if in childbirth waiting for the children of God to come forth".
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