Freedom from religion foundation, Inc | Subscribe
Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Honorable mention: College essay contest — Lauren Rickard

Medicine vs. religion

By Lauren Rickard

Lauren Rickard

As long as there has been a belief in higher powers and a doctrine decreed from the heavens, there was opposition to all other thought and opinions. The key notation of every religion is the existence of a worshipable great thing, whether that be deities or just one deity, nature or the greater cycles of the universe.

Early civilizations used religion to explain away the phenomena of nature, which evolved to systems and cycles from reincarnation to elaborate afterlives. Religion comes in varying degrees, as belief changes with every translation of the text. With every belief, there are absolute no’s, and typical within that are the actions against nature.  Medicine, at the most simplistic level, is an action to circumvent or avoid natural processes, from antibiotics to pain killers to vaccines to dementia treatment. For as long as there was a theory of naturopathic medicine, there was opposition from various religious crowds that led to deep rifts between the processes of God and those “playing God.”

Pandemics are very trying times for anyone, let alone those who take it as an act of God. With the flourishing of the Black Death across Eurasia, there were many divisions that made themselves apparent. An early urinalysis abandoned for astrology. Self-flagellation in order to repent. The beginnings of the “Great Pestilence” in Europe were marked with the mass infection of the known world from large sores called buboes and slight discomfort to death within an hour.

Beyond that was the beginnings of medicine or natural healings. Uroscopy was a practice of association with nearly every known disease, with its various different urinary characteristics. Urinalysis, on the surface level, is still done today with a fruity smell being present with diabetes, or color differentiation with the presence of some bodily materials. Although this devolved into a simple look at the bole of the specimen with the astral alignments in mind, it still served its purpose, along with the accidentally correct theory of miasma, in which the route of all illness was bad air, that led people away from infections with their avoidance of horrible smells that emanated from the rotting corpses of the plague.

Despite this, many people of the church ignored these practices and turned rather to prayers and physically repenting, which led to further spread of the illness with close-quarters gatherings within churches and the opening of routes of infection and the spreading of bacteria, preceding disinfectants. What would medicine be today if religion hadn’t pulled so much attention away?

With the pandemic across the world, various religious answers have been tested, mostly inefficiently. Many religious groups reject the use of modern medicine, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Amish, Scientologists and Christian Scientists, all on the belief that it’s a perversion of the God’s will. This same principle is applied to the anti-vax communities. Refusal of medicine has led to many preventable child deaths from either no medication or not vaccinating. There are multiple preventable diseases that have been brought down with herd immunity and vaccination that have reemerged in worrying numbers off the back of this new reemerging insistence against vaccination. This big divide within the country has become an argument of “my” freedom versus “yours,” when the reality of the situation is that the answer is simple and backed with science. Medicine and science is proven and true.

There is proof that medicine works. There is a complex web of sciences that explain the world. Religion simply divides with every opinion that differs.

Lauren Rickard, 19, attends the University of Texas-Arlington, with a goal of become a medical technologist.