Modern Medicine: The New Religion

Modern Medicine Is Not A Science

Doctors, medical researchers and drug companies like to persuade all present and potential consumers of health care that medicine is a science and has advanced far beyond the mystical incantations and witch doctor remedies of the past. But modern medicine is not a science and modern clinicians and medical researchers are not scientists. Modern clinicians may use scientific techniques but in the way that they treat their patients they are still quacks.

Dr. Vernon Coleman

The Hidden Influence of Beliefs and Fears

olivier clerc

by Olivier Clerc, France

When the Christian missionaries of the last three or four centuries were evangelizing so-called “primitive people”, they believed that they had only to destroy or burn the various cult objects of these people in order to eradicate their religions, superstitions, and customs.

Centuries after the conquistadors tried to stamp out the Inca culture, or the Inquisition tried to stamp out the protestant ‘heresies’, or the similar attempts to annihilate the Voodoo, or the many African and Asian religions, we know that such arrogant high-handedness does not work. These beliefs still continue today, sometimes under different guises, long after the objects of worship associated with them have been destroyed.

And as several sociology studies have shown, the superstitious beliefs that used to be attached to the formal religions have in many cases simply been transferred to other objects, persons or events. The daily evening television news bulletins, watched by millions worldwide in their respective countries, the stars of show business and sport, humanitarian associations, cults and all sorts of other things in modern life, these have now become the new gods we venerate or fear, or the shrines at which we worship or curse, and where we still experience those primitive religious urges and feelings, where we can believe without necessarily having to think or rationalize.

However, it is in the field of medicine that this unconscious transposition of the religious experience – and more specifically the Judeo-Christian ideology, myths, beliefs, expectations and hopes – seems to have had the greatest impact. The facts show clearly – for anyone taking the time to study them – that medicine enjoys today an astonishing degree of undeserved credit that is out of all proportion to its actual results or promises.

Real health keeps regressing, while the great medical “miracles”, such as vaccines and antibiotics, are now clearly showing their limitations, which some had foreseen and warned of right from the start. This undeserved credit comes mostly from the fact that medicine and science have replaced religion as the only certain belief in an uncertain world.

Doctors and scientists are seen as the priests of the new religion, delivering through the certainties of science what the old discredited gods were not able to deliver. If we can no longer believe in the miracles, the cures, and the curses of the old religions, we can certainly believe in the miracles, the cures and the destructive powers of the new science.

Almost imperceptibly, medicine has taken on a saving, or messianic role, the characteristics of which we must examine. Looking back through history, there is a sense in which medicine can be said to have displayed characteristics that have at various times characterised the Roman Catholic Church: autocracy, centralization, the control and manipulation of people, censorship, propaganda, total obedience, infallibility, the destruction of heretics, the stamping out of individuality. All this, of course, has been done in the name of public health and the general good, just as the church acted for mankind’s salvation.

Although medicine sees itself as exclusively scientific and rational, with no room for spiritual or human dimensions (such as psychic healers, or shamans, who are dismissed as charlatans), it organizes itself and functions in a way that can be described as intrinsically religious. The paradox is that by rejecting any spiritual dimension medicine in fact becomes the toy of the forces and myths it tries to ignore and cannot control. Mere denial of something’s existence has never made it disappear, except perhaps in our consciousness, but instead, it is banished to our subconscious mind, where, beyond our control, it can roam free, wreak havoc, and wield even greater power.

Medicine, then, has become the new world religion. The specific myths, beliefs and rites of Christianity have been unconsciously projected over medicine since Pasteur. As I explain in detail in my book, we can establish a very close parallelism between the Catholic religion and modern medicine, although, for lack of space, I cannot go into all the details of each comparison in this article. In brief:

  • physicians have taken the place of priests;
  • vaccination plays the same initiatory role as baptism, and is accompanied by the same threats and fears;
  • the search for health has replaced the quest for salvation;
  • the fight against disease has replaced the fight against sin;
  • eradication of viruses has taken the place of exorcising demons;
  • the hope of physical immortality (cloning, genetic engineering) has been substituted for the hope of eternal life;
  • pills have replaced the sacrament of bread and wine;
  • donations to cancer research take precedence over donations to the church;
  • a hypothetical universal vaccine could save humanity from all its illnesses, as the Saviour has saved the world from all its sins;
  • the medical power has become the government’s ally, as was the Catholic Church in the past;
  • “charlatans” are persecuted today as “heretics” were yesterday;
  • dogmatism rules out promising alternative medical theories;
  • the same absence of individual responsibility is now found in medicine, as previously in the Christian religion;
  • patients are alienated from their bodies, as sinners used to be from their souls.

People are still being manipulated by their fears and childish hopes. They are still told that the source of their problems is outside them, and that the solution can only come from the outside. They are not allowed to do anything by themselves and they must have the mediation of priest-physicians, the administration of drug-hosts, and the protection of vaccine-absolutions.

This substitution of medicine for religion has had many unfortunate consequences. In medical research, it influences what should be looked for and what can be discovered. Any discovery or theory that is at odds with the over-arching orthodoxy is rejected, and its authors called heretics. Entire areas of research, as well as promising new lines of approach, are thus disqualified.

And lastly, the hidden religious dimension of modern medicine inhibits the free debating of already fixed beliefs, and preventing them from being properly re-examined and criticised. Indeed, dogmatism, irrationality and passions – all characteristic of the religious experience – take precedence over any calm and carefully thought out argument, even over the most tenuous facts. The same vehemence that led Galileo to be condemned by the Church for his theories, in spite of the scientifically demonstrable facts, is now being used by medicine to reject any thesis that is contrary to its own dogmas. Science has learnt its lessons from the Church.

Edited from a text first appeared in CONTINUUM Magazine and is the introduction to the book “Médecine, Religion et Peur; l’influence cachée des croyances” by Olivier Clerc The book has been published with Editions Jouvence, 1999. France.

The author can be contacted at

Other Voices Of Medical Dissent:

“For a pediatrician to attack what has become the “bread and butter” (vaccines) of pediatric practice is equivalent to a priest denying the infallibility of the Pope.”

Dr Robert Mendelsohn, M.D.

“Society today is paying a heavy price in disease and death for the monopoly granted the medical profession in the 1920’s. In fact, the situation peculiarly resembles that of the 1830s when physicians relied on bloodletting, mercurial medicines, and quinine, even though knowing them to be intrinsically harmful And precisely the same arguments were made in defense of these medicines as are employed today, namely, that the benefits outweigh the risks. In truth, the benefits accrue to the physician, while the patient runs the risks.”

Harris Coulter (Divided Legacy Vol 3)

“I was at one time a great lover of the medical profession. . . . I no longer hold that opinion. . . . Doctors have almost unhinged us. . . . I regard the present system as black magic. . . . Hospitals are institutions for propagating sin. Men take less care of their bodies and immorality increases. . . . ignoring the soul, the profession puts men at its mercy and contributes to the diminution of human dignity and self control.. . . I have endeavoured to show that there is no real service of humanity in the profession, and that it is injurious to mankind. . . . I believe that a multiplicity of hospitals is not test of civilization. It is rather a symptom of decay.”

Mahatma Gandhi

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