Theology and Chiropractic Part 3

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Recently, I was purging some old files and came across an article written by a well-known chiropractic college president. The article was dated November 6, 1992 which should tell you how rarely I purge my files. I am often amazed at how divorced from reality chiropractors can be in their thinking but I was especially taken aback by this chiropractor because he represents a school that has historically been the flagship of therapeutic chiropractic and because in this article he professed to being a “practicing Christian.” I am not sure what a practicing Christian is. Christianity is a belief system. You do not have to “practice” at it, although for most Christians there are certain actions and activities, what the Bible calls “fruits,” which are the result or an outgrowth of an internal belief.

There are two glaring issues that this article brings out. The first relates to his Christian practice. He acknowledges his faith was acquired both from childhood teaching and adult learning. He believes God intervenes in the lives of human beings and that prayer for the sick, which he acknowledges he performs, will have positive results.

There are a few interesting points that he makes in this article which is a “counterpoint” essay to something written by the late Fred Barge, D.C. First, I admire the man’s willingness to testify to his belief system and that he sees it as real and relative to life in general and health in particular. What I do not understand is how he can believe that God is there and can intervene supernaturally in the healing process but not act or intervene in the natural healing process. As a Christian, he must believe that God created man and is involved intimately in his life and health. In fact, he very eloquently says, “As a practicing Christian I can and do lay claim to the belief that God is intimately involved in the health and welfare of all beings.” No Baptist preacher could have said it better. If he did not believe that, there would be no reason to petition Him on behalf of another human being for healing. On the other hand, if God is involved in an ongoing basis in the lives of human beings, in that He maintains the world in active organization, why does this doctor reject the manifestation of that active organization in living things, what we call an innate intelligence? Is it such a leap in thinking for him to go from God intervening supernaturally to God creating the principle of life, divinely imputed to human beings, which apparently uses the nerve system and can be expressed more fully without an interference in the nerve system?

Perhaps that is the difference, thinking and practicing. I go out and practice with my softball team. But softball does not occupy my thinking for the rest of the day. It does not form the basis for what I do the remainder of the day. “Practicing” has a connotation of compartmentalizing our lives. One practices the piano for an hour or two but music theory does not form the basis for their life and the rest of the actions.

Yet, the more important issue is demonstrated by the remainder of the article. After his paragraph which is a testimony of his faith, he spends the remaining five paragraphs discussing the need for scientific, objective research which he contends is the only way to demonstrate the validity of chiropractic. I frankly do not understand the need for his Christian testimony in the essay. It really has no relevance to the point of his overall argument. However, it does help us to understand the thinking that permeates a certain aspect of the profession. There is no other reference to his religious beliefs, no application or comparison of it in the remainder of the article. There is no point to the brief theological discussion unless he sees some relationship to philosophical chiropractic and religion. Which he does not mention and, in having no point, he makes a point. There is a total lack of congruency and relevance in the lives of people in our profession (and in the rest of society in general). He has a clear separation between his Christianity and his chiropractic. For him, belief in a Supreme Being does not relate to chiropractic. It has no bearing on his practice. He believes that God can supernaturally intervene and heal a sick person, but that healing naturally has nothing to do with the principle of life placed in living organisms by God. We are asked by our therapeutic brethren to check our beliefs, our reason, our sound minds and the logical deductions from our faith at the front door of our offices and depend upon the empirical findings of science (which are often inadequate) or upon nothing at all. The writer even says that he is willing to “change my position if, through legitimate research the profession proved me wrong.” It is only research that will satisfy him.

Why is he willing to trust his eternal destiny to what he has “been taught as a child and what I have learned as an adult,” none of which was learned scientifically? Yet, his approach to chiropractic necessitates scientific proof? He says he “often prays for God’s intervention in the lives of those who are mentally, emotionally or physically sick.” How did he come to the conclusion that those prayers are efficacious? Not by scientific research but based upon a philosophy/theology. I do the same thing. I allow the God-created and God-placed principle of life expressed over the nerve system to intervene in the lives of those who are mentally, emotionally and physically sick and also those who appear to have no symptoms. I would bet that although he prays for people’s healing, he does not discourage them from also seeking medical care. After all, there is no conflict. I do not dissuade people from seeking medical care or asking for supernatural intervention because there is no conflict between what I do and what the health or religious professions do.

I appreciate his desire to see us respected as a “true health care profession,” but the fact is that our profession began because of a philosophy. It was based upon a philosophy which cannot be scientifically proved or disproved. It was accepted by the legislatures and the courts based upon the philosophy. It is accepted by the public because of its rational philosophy (not its research).

The writer concludes that “perhaps we truly do need a reconstruction of our thinking.” I would suggest that the reconstruction is one in which we integrate science and philosophy, one in which we accept what science can give us and what its limitations are, one in which we integrate into our profession that which we have learned and understood “as an adult” by means other than empiricism. Disassociation, the inability or refusal to integrate truth gained by science, reason and faith is in my opinion one of the greatest problems in society. We cannot be a “a true health care profession” if we ignore or leave out a very basic truth, even if that truth comes from our theology or our philosophy or our ability to reason deductively. Without congruency in our thinking and non-contradictory actions in our practice we can have a health care profession but not a “true” one. We already have enough of the former and have for thousands of years. I want to be part of the latter because that is what the public expects and deserves and, more important, that is what my core beliefs dictate.

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