A couple of years ago I was singled out in an editorial article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The author had allegedly read my book, The Holistic Health Guide: Natural Care for the Whole Dog, and took offense at my holistic perspective. In his rant against holistic veterinary medicine the author states, “…EBM [Evidence-Based Medicine] adheres to the principle of methodological naturalism, which holds that scientific investigations must be limited to physical objects and processes that can be measured and manipulated and that obey laws of nature that can potentially be deduced. Methodological naturalism does not require taking a position on the existence or importance of supernatural forces; it merely excludes consideration of these from scientific investigation.”
You see, the scientific medicine of our day is based on the notion that all of reality is material and all the phenomena we experience can be reduced to atoms and molecules. According to this belief, holistic medicine, with its focus on body, mind, and spirit, is ridiculous because there is no spiritual aspect to reality. “Supernatural forces” are excluded from science, and science is all there is for EBMers. From the holistic perspective, spirit is a vital aspect of reality and is not at all supernatural – it is the very essence of nature.
Insight into materialistic medicine can be gained by exploring the brain-mind problem; how does the brain produce the mind? The materialist view is that the mind is a byproduct of complex brain activity (although they have yet to explain how this happens). Their evidence for this belief is that if the brain is dead, there is no consciousness. Furthermore, damage to specific areas of the brain, leads to predictable loss of mental function. We also know from modern imaging, like functional MRI, that certain thoughts and activities correspond with activation of specific brain areas. It is obvious that brain activity is correlated with mind activity.
What is not clear from any of these observations is what causes what. Does the brain’s activity cause the mind to change or does the mind’s musings cause the associated brain activity?
An alternative view is that the non-material mind uses the brain to interface with the physical world. I think of this like a TV studio broadcasting a program. The studio is like the mind/soul and the TV set is like the brain. If you unplug the TV set (kill the brain), then there is no picture (evidence of consciousness). But that does not mean the studio (mind/soul) stops existing. You could even tinker with the TV’s circuitry and get predictable changes in the TV’s picture as is seen with manipulating the brain.
Next week we will look at the problems that a materialistic view causes and the research that refutes this point of view.