Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science

Those seeking to strengthen their faith in anything other than science should avoid reading Superstition. In his introduction, Robert L. Park admits he is an atheist, a claim that he does not balk on at any point in his book. Park discusses his friendship with two priests who discover him in the woods after a tree had fallen on him. In his book, he writes about topics that he discusses with the two priests with whom he has his fair share of debates.

Park discusses several topics in his book, but three in particular stood out to me: evolution vs. creationism, medicine, and prayer. His beliefs on evolution and creationism are quite simple; evolution can be proven scientifically and creationism cannot. Park also discusses medicine. He describes the practice of homeopathy (using supplements that mirror symptoms for a cure) as understandable years ago, but foolish today in modern practice. He despises the idea of “alternative” medicines. He writes, “There is no field of medicine that can be called ‘alternative’; there is only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t” (Park 158). The third topic discussed is that of prayer. This was my favorite part of his book, so I decided to go into further detail while talking about it.

As far as prayer goes, Park believes it has some good purposes. He feels it is good for relieving stress. He writes, “However you pray, it can reduce the symptoms of stress and prepare your body for healing. It’s no miracle, but it can help”(Park 61). There are those who believe that using prayer to heal is the best method of recovery. However, Park believes that using prayer as a purpose of healing is farfetched at best. In his chapter on prayer, he cites a study done gauging the effects of prayer for the recovery of those who underwent heart surgery. He writes, “The conclusion of the study was that prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people undergoing heart surgery. It will probably be the last major study of the power of intercessory prayer” (Park 78). Park does not completely try to discredit prayer altogether, however, he does insist there is no evidence to support claims of using it as a means of healing.

Each one of these topics can be related to our course. The idea of creationism tends to make extraordinary claims without convincing evidence. There is no absolute proof that God created the universe, but it has been proven that evolution does exist. Concerning the use of homeopathy and other “alternate” medicines, there seems to be absolutely no progress that has been made. Homeopathy has shown almost no proof of working; however it is still used by some today. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years even though studies have shown absolutely no evidence of any results. I believe that those believing in the effects of prayers place too much emphasis on confirmation rather than refutation. They tend to focus only on the stories that show some results instead of the many prayers that go unanswered.

I do believe that the section on medicine can be used to address issues in medicine today. I cannot believe that some people still rely on the idea of homeopathy to treat diseases, but all around the world there are those who do. If this idea was debunked more publicly, people may be more inclined to seek actual medicine that has shown positive results. I think that more should be done to make people aware that these pseudoscientific methods of medicine and treatments have been proven to be not effective. I feel that is in the best interest of the people seeking treatment. If it were done, who knows how many more people could be treated properly instead of relying on medicines and treatments thousands of years old.

No comments:

Post a Comment