Western medicine today is largely an offspring of the Enlightenment of the 19th Century: the universe can be understood and conquered with the rational mind.

Although this rational, hypothesis-driven approach has yielded wonderful results (and I am very grateful for all the advances that have made my life better.), in the broader scheme of things, it has been as real as a backdrop on a Broadway stage. Flat, two-dimensional and giving the illusion of substance.

That’s because most physicians are reluctant to give credence to the role a patient’s personal faith plays in his or her recuperation, reluctant to acknowledge that humankind is more than a collection of neurons and subatomic particles.

As I said, most physicians – not all. Take for example Dr. Harold G. Koenig. Dr. Koenig is recognized as the leading expert in the role religious faith plays in one’s battle with terminal illness. He has taken the time and effort (and suffered the stony silence of fellow physicians) to actually study – even to begin to quantify – the role something as nebulous as “faith” plays in the actual, observable phenomena of a body healing itself.

In addition, he has written several books on the topic, including, The Healing Power of Faith, Spirituality in Patient Care and Faith and Mental Health. And last week the Dallas Morning News did an interview with him, discussing this topic.

Dr. Koenig and his like-minded colleagues are not the only one in the news regarding faith and terminal illness. The host of TNT’s energetic NBA studio show, Ernie Johnson, has been battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma since 2003 In the October 31st edition of USAToday, he said, “My faith is a huge part of this. Like I have on the end of my e-mails, ‘Trust God. Period.’ That’s what it was through this whole thing for me.”

Although Johnson’s name is well-recognized, there are countless people whose names are not as well recognized who would support his contention from their own experience.

So the evidence continues to mount that faith plays a positive role in fighting a terminal illness. I would hope that more and more practitioners of purely Western medicine would take note, for the betterment of their patients, for the enhancement of their practice.

This post can also be seen in The R-Zone, a place to reflect, refresh and renew.

Posted by:

Sandra Eggers, Author, Dying Body, Growing Faith

Be Sociable, Share!