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The Search for Spiritually Centered Medicine,
by Ted Pelonis; photos by Ron
Magazine 10(1), Fall 2001: 8-15.
Should the miracles of spiritual healing be accepted as the newest medical technology?
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|What better method for the spiritual
community to use in making its resurgence than scientific inquiry itself? The
most famous of these studies, conducted by Randolph Byrd, a staff cardiologist
at the U.C. San Francisco School of Medicine, involved intercessory prayer for
patients in the coronary care unit at San Francisco General Hospital. Prayer was
offered for some of the patients by groups outside the hospital, while a control
group of patients received no prayer. The end result? Patients who were prayed
for fared better than those in the control group.
When we think of the surgeon whose efforts have "saved" lives, Howard University Hospital chaplain, Reverend Boyer Freeman, would ask us to reconsider, and notice that the life has only been prolonged, not saved. Reverend Tesfamariam Baraki, the hospital's Catholic chaplain, concurs, saying, "empirical science only focuses on the cells, on the bones, on the genes. It only focuses on the material, physical part of the person, which is mortal. Science only prolongs mortality, prolongs life a little bit."
The debate over stem-cell research
The debate over embryonic stem-cell research revolves, by and large, around the fact that on the one hand the embryo, which many consider to be sacred life, is destroyed in extracting the stem cells. On the other, proponents look to the medical value of the stem-cells, which are the basis for every type of cell in the body and might be capable of becoming nearly every type of tissue, allowing, say, a person with a heart condition to grow a new heart.
If President Bush were to assemble an advisory group from Howard, comprised of a leading transplant surgeon, a psychiatrist, a Catholic priest and a Muslim genethicist, what advice would he likely hear? "I think some stem cell research is reasonable, some isn't. Research that promotes healing of mankind is good, that which promotes creating mankind is dangerous," said Dr. Callender. "If you have embryos, what's wrong with studying them? If they're there, I don't understand why you couldn't use them for research."
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Related article: A Question of Ethics, by H. Patrick Swygert. Howard Magazine 10(1), Fall 2001.
© 2001 Howard University, all rights
reserved. Last updated:
30 October 2001 .
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