Monday, March 21, 2011

Medicine: Idolatry in the Twenty First Century

This is what the LORD says — your Redeemer, the Holy One… "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17)

The book of Isaiah in the Old Testament portion of the Bible is one of the most incredible books of prophecy ever written. Isaiah was a prophet during the time the northern kingdom of Israel was deported to Assyria in 722 B.C. But not only did Isaiah write about events that were happening during his own day, he also wrote about events that would happen hundreds of years later during the days of captivity of the southern kingdom of Israel after 586 B.C. He also wrote what are called the “suffering servant” Messianic passages that prophesied about the life of Jesus Christ which would happen more than 700 years later.

In Isaiah chapter 48 we are given some of the reasons why God revealed these things to his people through the words of the prophet Isaiah:

Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together. Come together, all of you, and listen: Which of the idols has foretold these things? (Isaiah 48:12-14)

What a poor comparison the idols of Isaiah’s day were in comparison to the one true God, the Creator of heaven and earth! The idols did not have knowledge of future events like the Lord did, who sometimes revealed these events to his prophets. The Israelites were called out to be a special people, different from the nations around them. They were to trust in God alone, and seek a relationship with him, as is stated in verse 17 above, where God states “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” This principle guided everything in life, and was the first of the ten commandments:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:2-6)

So why did people create idols, and what did they trust them for? Idols were looked to for guidance, power, and healing. It seems strange to us today that people would create idols out of man-made objects created by their own hands. But the reason it seems strange to us today is because the people trusted in the spirits or spirit world represented by the idols, or in some cases they may have believed that the idol itself was inhabited by spirit beings. Our materialistic culture, by contrast, believes primarily only in the physical world.

The heart of idolatry is looking to sources outside of God for our basic needs and desires in life. The idols that are erected flow out of our experiences in life, and the idol is an attempt to explain life apart from the Creator. Hence, when the Israelites were miraculously delivered from slavery to the Egyptians under the leadership of Moses, and when Moses went up on the mountain to receive the laws that were to govern them and did not return for 40 days, they assumed he was dead and they reinterpreted their experiences in life to find meaning apart from God. They assumed God had abandoned them and was no longer involved with their lives. Their experiences taught them that they had indeed been miraculously delivered from the powerful Egyptian army which was destroyed, so they had to attribute this reality in their life to something. Drawing upon their religious experience in Egypt, they decided to make an idol out of gold and use that image as a symbol of great power. (Read the story in Exodus 32)

The typical things people have historically looked to idols to provide for them are: guidance, wealth, fertility, and health. God, the Creator of heaven and earth, presents himself to his people as the sole source of these things we need and desire. God does not act like a “magician” by providing these things for us out of thin air, but most of the time he works through his natural order of creation which is upheld by his power. The creation, however, is not a closed system, and he himself is not bound to its laws. He operates outside of it also, and in the person of Jesus, especially, we saw the power of the Creator in human form interact and overcome the limitations of the physical creation in many instances. Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, immediately healed people’s diseases, and even raised people from physical death back to life. But the decision as to when supernatural events happen always originates with God, and not the created beings. The prophets and other leaders at times were used by God to perform miracles, but the miracles were performed by God through them. “Magicians” on the other hand, those who truly perform magic (not just illusions), are interacting with the spiritual world being controlled by their own thoughts and desires, or those of the spirits who are also created beings.

Are things any different today in terms of idolatry? It has taken on a different form, but it is in essence the same thing it has always been – trust in idols rather than God to supply our needs and desires. Modern-day culture has changed dramatically since the theory of Darwinian evolution came on the scene and dominated academics in western culture, so that today the physical world is exalted above all other realities. The spiritual world is either denied or ignored. Hence, creation of physical idols is very uncommon, because current culture ignores the unseen world that could be represented by such physical manifestations.

What has replaced those idols, however, are beliefs in new ones. The most common idol in western culture today, by far, is medicine – the new “magic.” Modern day medicine has existed for a relatively short period of human history, and the creation of a body of licensed “physicians” can be traced back to the start of the vaccine movement in Europe in the 1800s, when health officials wanted more control over the population and what they perceived as threatening diseases like small pox. Today, medicine is seen as the solution to almost all of life’s problems. A pill or vaccine exists now for just about every ailment or problem in life, and for those problems that don’t have a medical solution yet, billions of dollars are spent on research to find one. The belief system currently in place is that physical science and medicine can solve all problems in life. The people who control the medical system are trained and licensed and given great authority to control our lives. Currently they have the authority to take children away from their parents, to declare someone “insane” or mentally disturbed and have them committed to an institution, force people (especially children) to use their products via immunizations, and make sweeping laws and regulations that affect the lives of everyone. It is believed that life itself is dependent on medicine, and this belief system is used to justify the authority and power the medical system has in our culture.

How have we allowed this to happen? How does the population for the most part willingly believe in the medical system and give up so many of their freedoms and so much of their wealth to this system? There’s only one rational explanation: idolatry. We are simply repeating the same mistakes that have been made throughout history, when God is removed from our belief system and replaced with a belief in something else. We learn to trust in our idols instead. If history lasts long enough, I predict that a day will come many years in the future that will look back at our current day and culture and have the same feelings of repulsion and disgust that those of us feel today when we look at ancient cultures that trusted in graven images and spirits in their idolatrous practice. “How could they be so foolish to trust in those things”, we think today, and in the future I suspect the same thoughts and questions will be pondered about our medical practices today.

The winds of change are blowing already, however, as many are beginning to see just how far we have come in this blind trust we have in medicine. Some are stepping back to try and take an objective look at the effectiveness of our drugs, and what is being seen are some very troubling facts that can no longer be denied.

First, depending on which set of statistics you look at, deaths from legally prescribed medicines and the administration of the medical system is seen as either the number one cause of death in the US today1, or the number three cause of death just behind cancer and heart disease2. This would include deaths from prescription drugs and hospital mistakes that are preventable. All of the statistics used to reach a conclusion like this are from standard published reports that come out of the medical system itself. Yet this is not widely reported in mainstream media, because of the belief that medicine and the medical system is necessary for life, and that therefore we have no choice but to put up with these mistakes and accidental deaths that are a direct cause of medicine. Anything that is put forward as an alternative to the medical system for health is generally attacked and declared illegal, and if those from within the medical system decide to become “whistle-blowers” to speak up and try to reveal the failures of the medical system, they are usually attacked and they often lose their careers. This is especially true in the vaccine movement right now, which seeks to greatly increase the number of vaccines required to immunize children and now even teenagers and adults. Hundreds of thousands of parents know first-hand that vaccines have either killed or permanently damaged their children (and this is even backed up by statistics in the VAERS - Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System – government database), and yet the medical establishment continues to deny there are any problems in the face of overwhelming evidence. While great wealth and profits are definitely tied into the vaccine and medical industry as a whole, I believe that the overriding motivation is a belief system, and not necessarily strictly a profit motive (although the profit motive is also a huge factor!) For vaccines, the belief is that if everyone is not vaccinated, dangerous viruses and diseases will spread through society and threaten life itself – the very existence of the human race. That belief, however, is not backed by objective science. It is simply a belief system, based on historical plagues and what future plagues could potentially do. It is a belief system that feeds on fear and makes no consideration that there is a God who has ultimate control over his creation.

Secondly, people are now starting to look objectively at the effectiveness of medicines, and what they are finding is very disturbing. This is especially true when it comes to psychotropic drugs within the field of psychiatry. Psychiatry is presented as a part of medical practice that supposedly has its basis in biological science, but it just simply is not true. There are currently no biological tests that can diagnose mental illness. None. Drugs are prescribed simply on symptoms. It is a $330 billion industry, and the number of antidepressant drugs prescribed has doubled in less than one decade. Most people don’t realize that the diseases these drugs are supposed to treat are diseases that psychiatrists vote on to include in their “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders” (DSM)3. There are no objective tests to detect these “diseases,” and the number of defined diseases that go into the DSM are increasing at an alarming rate, and now include such things that in the past were considered within the realm of normal behavior. One of the largest and most controversial ones is “attention deficit disorder” which is increasingly being used to prescribe strong drugs for children that are “over active” and have “behavior problems.” Even unhappiness is now considered a disease, and drugs can be prescribed for that too. Critics point out that the DSM is so large now, that it can now cover the behavior patterns of the entire human population, and effectively label everyone now as having a mental illness. What a huge market for their drugs!

As editor of Health Impact News, seldom does a week go by where I don’t see at least one story, and many now from mainstream media sources, questioning the validity of this increase in antidepressant drugs and their dangers4. These drugs are now being implicated in the increasing school shootings we are seeing so frequently in the news5, and to an alarming increase in suicide among our youth6. They are also being increasingly used with the elderly population who are often defenseless to defend themselves and stand up for their rights7.

Idolatry is the reason we have allowed this medical system, which is so wrongly labeled as “healthcare”, to become as powerful as it is today. Some may think after reading this that I am opposed to all drugs and anything involved with the medical system. That is not the case. There are real drugs that are based on real science that obviously have great benefit, and can save lives. Antibiotics are a case in point. But our blind trust in antibiotics has led to such an abuse and overuse that they are losing their effectiveness. This is because over 80% of all antibiotics are used on animals8 in our industrial agricultural system, and it is estimated that of the other 20% or so used to treat human illnesses, about 90% of those cases antibiotics are used unnecessarily. If we continue to follow the current path we are taking, some feel that antibiotics will completely lose their effectiveness, making it impossible to perform life-saving procedures like surgeries or emergency room trauma9.

Many today are recognizing the faults of the medical system, and they are seeing that what is labeled as “science” to justify this system of treating diseases is in fact primarily a belief system and not really science at all10. “Scientific” studies that are published in peer-reviewed journals regarding new drugs or vaccines are almost exclusively funded by the drug companies themselves, with tremendous conflicts of interest.11

There is a solution to this mess we have created:

This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One… "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed from before me." (Isaiah 48:17-19)

The cure for idolatry is belief and trust in God our Creator and Redeemer. The Redeemer Messiah had not yet been born during the days of the prophet Isaiah, but we live in a day and age after he has been born, and his name is Jesus Christ. Faith in God our Creator and the Redeemer Jesus, is the opposite of idolatry, and recognizes that life depends on God the Creator, and that redemption, the forgiveness of sins and spiritual rebirth, comes from a relationship with Jesus. When we trust in God, we trust in his word, and this is his word to us: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.

Don’t put your trust in the medical system! If you need to use it, make sure you have sought the Lord first, and that he is the one leading you to the right people and the right solutions. The prescription for dealing with sickness in biblical times was to seek counsel from spiritual leaders, not doctors. Life is not dependent on the medical system, and often times there are natural solutions, and sometimes even supernatural ones. God is the author of all life, and he is the one who upholds it. Seek him first, and depend only on him!

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:2-6 – the first of the 10 commandments)

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:14-16)

Related articles:

Who is Responsible for Providing Healthcare?

Do Doctors Really Heal?


1. The medical system is the leading cause of death in the US: by By Gary Null, PhD; Carolyn Dean MD, ND; Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Dorothy Smith, PhD

2. America’s Health Care System is the third leading cause of death in the US: by Barbara Starfield, M.D.

3. Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights: Psychiatric Disorders Voted Into Existence - Psychiatry’s New Billing Bible, The DSM: A Goldmine of Mental Disorders for Pharma

4. Here are some recent ones: Ex-Pharma Sales Reps Speaks Out – Pharma Not in Business of Health (Video), Antidepressant drugs do not work, and they have serious side effects (includes Videos), The hidden tyranny: children diagnosed and drugged for profit, Psychiatry Biggest Offender in Mis-diagnosis and Unnecessary Procedures (ABC News) – These are a small sampling of recent stories. To view the most recent ones, click here.

5. See: Take This Antidepressant, and You Too May Have a Violent Psychotic Break, and Psychiatry’s Prescription for Violence (Video)

6. See: Harming Youth: Screening and Drugs Ruin Young Minds (includes Video)

7. See: Judge Clears Way for Whistleblower Lawsuit Over J&J Risperdal Kickbacks (prescribing antidepressants for the elderly in nursing homes when they didn’t need them), Senate Aging Panel blows whistle on over drugging dementia patients

8. See: Congresswoman Slaughter Fights to Keep Antibiotics Effective, Reduce Unnecessary Use in Animals

9. See: Overuse of Antibiotics “Greatest threat to human health”

10. See: Is modern medicine more science or religion? and The Uncertainty of Medical Practice: A physician's perspective

11. See: BMJ & Lancet Wedded to Merck CME Partnership Conflict of interest on Vaccine research? and Why the media is usually wrong about health information

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