Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Medicine and Compassion Require an Adequate Rational Foundation

The way we think is the way we live. Our philosophies and worldviews are the foundation upon which we build our houses of caring, chaos, or confusion. This very apparent truth can be demonstrated in any area of human endeavor. To illustrate the causal power of our philosophies, let’s just take the area of medicine.

Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi states that India had pioneered a number of ancient medical advances including cataract surgery and plastic surgery. However, the study and practice of medicine had only a brief duration in India. Mangalwadi explains that medicine and even compassion lacked an adequate cognitive rationale in his India. This is partially because India’s doctors were also regarded as “gurus” who couldn’t be questioned:

  • This attitude toward knowledge could not create and sustain an academic culture where peers and students could challenge, reject, and improve the medical techniques they had received. Thus, India had intellectual giants but our religious tradition failed to build academic communities. Individual genius, knowledge, and excellence in technology are insufficient to build a medical center. (The Book that Made Your World, 311)
Mangalwadi also claims that Indian religions couldn’t provide an adequate rationale for compassion – a necessary pre-condition for the practice of medicine:

  • A person’s suffering was believed to be a result of her or his karma (deeds) in a previous life. In other words, suffering was cosmic justice. To interfere with cosmic justice is like breaking into a jail and setting a prisoner free. If you cut short someone’s suffering, you would actually add to his suffering because he would need to come back to complete his due quota of suffering. (312)
Although Buddhism says a lot about compassion, its message is conflicted:

  • The Buddha had to renounce his own wife and son to find enlightenment. He saw attachment as a cause of suffering. Detachment, therefore, became an important religious virtue…Those whose commitment was to their own spiritual enlightenment did not have the motivation to develop a scientific medical tradition. (312)
Our ideas have wings:

  • The idea that the state should pay surgeons to serve the poor came to India with the Bible. Secularism hijacked the biblical idea, but it provides only the form, not the spirit. It is possible to bring a mango plant from India and grow it in Minnesota. One might even get a few crops. But under normal circumstances, the tree will not survive and certainly not reproduce. (314)
Secularism might be able to grow a mango tree in its own soil, but will it survive? Indian medicine wasn’t able to survive in its cognitive climate. Secularism claims to promote compassion, but can its own beliefs cause it to survive?

It certainly doesn’t seem that secularism has a firm enough basis for compassion. It doesn’t have a high view of humanity. Materialism and naturalism – components of today’s secularism – regard humanity as just another animal, albeit more intelligent. However, some of us – babies, the mentally handicapped, the delusional - aren’t as intelligent as some animals. Consequently, these are becoming expendable in the West.

Besides, if we are regarded as no more than cosmically-purposeless animalistic bodies, then there remains no reason to not treat us as such. Consequently, in secular societies, there was little hesitation to exterminate dissidents and those regarded as racially inferior – a virtual caste system.

Moral relativism eliminates the possible existence of any human or inalienable rights – any basis for a Bill of Rights. Morals simply become human inventions which change and are rescinded arbitrarily at will, according to the need.

Secular multi-culturalism is born out of moral relativism. It acknowledges that we have no rock-solid basis upon which to judge other cultures or to defend our own. Therefore, in contradiction to its purported philosophy, the secular West has allowed the establishment of Shariah courts, which rule against the very rights the West has committed itself to uphold.

Such moral confusion can provide no adequate foundation for the rights that we enjoy – rights that have promoted the West.

Malcolm Muggeridge, the late British journalist and former secular humanist, observed:

  • “I’ve spent a number of years in India and Africa where I found much righteous endeavor undertaken by Christians of all denominations; but I’ve never , as it happens, came across a hospital or orphanage run by the Fabian [communist] society, or a humanist leper colony.” (314)
Why not? Could it be that their philosophy/religion is inadequate for such?

No comments:

Post a Comment