The faith gap between patients and doctors

There is a new study that shows the “faith gap” between patients and doctors:

new study finds that many Americans have that same kind of faith. In the study, 57 percent of randomly surveyed adults said God’s intervention could save a deathly ill family member even if physicians said treatment would be futile.

However, just under 20 percent of doctors and other medical workers said God could reverse a helpless outcome.

The study was published last month in Archives of Surgery and is one of many to show a “faith gap” between doctors and patients. (source)

Is this really surprising? Doctors see death everyday and the ineffective prayers before the patients die. The 20% of doctors who still have faith are the hardcore believers — those whose faith cannot be shaken even when reality clearly contradicts their beliefs. They hold on to the 1% of inexplainable turnarounds and ignore the 99% of times people actually die.

Just because something is unexplainable does not mean it was supernatural. Every medical condition we can treat was once unexplainable. When people got sick, it was because a deity willed it. When they got better, the deity healed them. But now we can see why people get sick and we can heal them ourselves. Yet whenever we’re not exactly sure why something happened, we still attribute it to some kind of deity. When will we learn?

When a priest or pastor is deathly ill, they don’t rely on prayer. They don’t think it’s God’s will they are sick and just wait for God to heal them. They ask to be taken to a hospital. They get treated by a doctor. While people say they believe in prayer, really they believe in doctors — and when the doctor has done his best, then they turn to God.

Well, they turn back to God until science finds a new treatment. Then they turn back to science.

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  • Interesting!

    There does seem to be a big contradiction going on here.

    It would seem that by the very nature of their jobs, that if they are devout believers… they are defying God! They are going against His will by curing the sick. ER doctors are even bringing people back to life!

    Perhaps there are more intricacies in Christianity that allow this to happen without it to be considered a contradiction, but I am not aware of them.

  • VorJack

    “Doctors see death everyday and the ineffective prayers before the patients die.”

    Whenever I hear of something like this, I think of Real Live Preacher’s heartrending story of Jenny:
    (see part 3)

    Preacher didn’t exactly come through the process with his faith intact. It seems more like he came through with his faith transformed, having decided that some ideas are worth struggling for even if their reality is doubtful.

    I don’t think most people are so philosophical. I suspect many doctors have shrugged off their old notions of faith and decided to just get on with it. I have a great deal of respect for both sides.

  • murrowcronkite

    I hate to be dissenting and obviously paranormal activity is just science that is not yet understood but growing numbers of doctors are recognizing there are forces of healing that they don’t understand.kind of quantum medical physics.
    Here’s a cool website I like

  • trj

    > “obviously paranormal activity is just science that is not yet understood”

    *cough* – or maybe it’s just complete bollocks that has no base in science, contrary to what believers claim.

    > “kind of quantum medical physics”

    I’m aware you might be using the word allegorically, but a sure sign of crackpottery is combining the words “quantum” and “medicine”. Quantum mechanical effects don’t manifest at the molecular level which is where medicine works.

  • VorJack

    “Dr. Bruce Lipton is an internationally recognized authority in bridging science and spirit.”

    Wow, is this guy ever setting off crackpot detectors.

    Can we get a rigorous definition of “spirit,” Mr. Lipton?

  • VorJack

    trj –

    Frankly, combining the word “quantum” with anything other than a discussion of the two-slit experiment or some high-level math is a pretty good indication of crackpottery.

  • murrowcronkite

    Faith and science do not have to be an opposing way of understanding.There are shamans and medicine men as well as Christian saints and crystal skulls that have been doing extrordinary and even miraculous things scince the dawn of time.(Crystal skulls aren,t just from the latest spielberg/indy jones movie).There are true healers around the the world that use no conventional medicine at all.Its not about beleiving what you know , it’s about being open to the unknown,the edge where science meets the unknown.Ther are real unexplainable events in peoples lives every day.To dismiss them as poppy cock, superstition or delusion just because they are unknown or unexplainable to the scientific commnunity is close minded.

    I predict that some day ,Hopefully soon, there will be a more closely integrated way of looking at the world between science and what we call paranormal.This knowledge exists and unfortunately alot of it has been lost by western so called “scientists”.The same people that put gallileo in jail and called people witches have held us back from discovering our true potential.Western scientific thinking does not have a lock on the universe.Some day we will be amazed at what we will be able to do with our own brains and being.There are hundreds of genes, so called “junk DNA” that are apparently not being used.What happens when these genes are switched on?Time travel?Inter dimensional travel? Self healing? Who the hell knows!!!!

    Sorry about the quantum medicine statement.I’m really just an art major but one who is open spiritually and to the science we don’t know.It is out there.Been there for tens of thousands of years.

    Just because you can”t empirically prove everything doesn”t mean it doesn’t exist.Where do you think the word theory comes in?

    How do you explain acupuncture.It works.Do we really know how?

    • AnonymousAtheist18

      Placebo effect.

  • Proto

    I’d attribute the 1% who do get better to human stupidity rather than unexplained occurrences. People, on average, are stupid. It holds to reason that some doctors are also stupid, if not lazy and uninterested as well.

    It’s entirely possible that the 1% got better because, somewhere along the line of diagnosis and treatment, someone made a mistake.

  • One rather more cynical way of looking at the results is that the surveyed adults are those who have survived, and thus had their faith reaffirmed. Those who didn’t are dead.

    Also, a more interesting number might be comparing the number of ‘average adults’ who believe in this to the number of adults with a certain level of education- say a PhD or MD. Or narrow it down to a PhD in the sciences.

  • murrowcronkite

    crackpottery is one of my favorite artforms.

  • @murrowcronkite: Re acupunture, it does work for some forms of pain. That’s been documented, and we understand how that works to some degree. But that acupunture can stimpulate chi and heal anything? Then it gets into crackpottery. But then there’s also the placebo effect, which I would recommend you look more into, as it’s very interesting and more complex than you might think.

  • Jabster

    @Daniel: Well the jury is still really out on acupunture even for some forms of pain relief but the evidence is really pointing more and more in the direction that it’s no more effective than a placebo. For almost everything else it has been clearly shown to be no more effevtive than a placebo.

  • Murrow: A lot of junk genes are regulatory. The rest really are junk, things like the genes for gills and such.

    Scientists investigate everything. If they find it doesn’t work, they try it again a few more times, then move on.

    If it works, science will accept it.

    that can’t be stressed enough.

  • Jabster

    @wazza: You make a very important point there which often seems to be missed by those who believe in the effectiveness of complimentary medicines. If there is evidence to back up that a treatment works then it will be accepted and used regardless of whether the underlying mechanisms are understood or not. I would happily use homoeopathic remedies if there was clear evidence of their effectiveness but the fact is trials have show again and again that they aren’t any better the placebo and as Daniel pointed out the placebo effect is far more interesting than many would think.

  • Another point that James Randi makes is that “alternative medicine” means they don’t know if it works or not. When they can prove it actually works, then it becomes plain old “medicine.”

    @Jabster: I’m sure it doesn’t work for all forms of pain relief. But I’d be willing to bet money that people would feel less pain after an acupuncture treatment — though not because of the reasons acupuncturists cite.

    I think it would be because there is nerve stimulation, touch from a human hand, and the expectation of feeling better. At the very least, it has similar results as a massage, which can also help pain relief by the same factors.

  • O.o ‘Junk DNA’ isn’t necessarily full, complete coding genes… it’s mostly redundant stuff, conserved sequences that have been passed down from millions of years of evolution.

    Doubtful it would allow us time travel…. more likely for a “junk” gene to produce an extra protein that clogs up the cell’s nucleus, poisons a mitochondrion, triggers a tiny gate in the cell to operate in reverse…. All of which would eventually have larger effects as more cells began utilizing the junk code… but… honestly… not a time-travel situation here. Lots of junk genes are actually fatal. And by “fatal”, I mean, “the organism never even develops”. Those junk genes are much more likely to be responsible for blighted ovums and miscarriages than anything else.

    “hundreds of genes” doesn’t really begin to describe junk DNA, especially since most of the stuff hasn’t got a proper promoter sequence. Try “hundreds of thousands of base pairs”. Possibly, “millions of base pairs”.

    Having said that: I myself am unable to call myself a Christian, nor can I interpret everyday happenings with a “God Willed It So” slant. My childhood was one that fixed that little “Faith” issue pretty darned well. There is amazing beauty in the universe – getting deeper and deeper into the tiniest molecules that make up our bodies can actually be even MORE spiritually awesome than dragging to church twice a week. I’m beyond not believing that “GOD” cares about every thought of every single being on the planet… I can’t believe that “GOD” could possibly keep track of and DIRECT every electron in every mitochondrion’s ubiquitone complexes… and yet I believe in some …. something that must keep it all running.

    But can I possibly believe the concept of God taking Little Billy back to Heaven? Especially with the common Christian guilt that is included… “to teach his mother a lesson”…? Not so much, no.

  • cmk26

    God has 3 responses to prayer- yes, no and wait. Just because a patient dies doesn’t mean God wasn’t listening or sympathetic. God’s plan doesn’t always match our own.

  • @cmk26: Interesting, that’s exactly the same answers I get to prayer when I pray to Baal! He’s very sympathetic, but sometimes he just wants me to wait, or he just doesn’t want to mess up his cosmic plan by granting my request.

    So what does God say “yes” to in your life that absolutely, positively, could have never happened on it’s own or by human hands?

  • murrowcronkite

    Pacebo affect is not much different than faith but if the results are thr same as drugs or invasive procedures what”s the difference.Spontaneous remission does occur.Why not hedge your bets and try both.I don’t believe as do Christian Scientists that you should only pray and if God doesn”t heal you it wasn”t his will but really we are beyond that now.As Dr.Bruce Lipton says all matter is energy and you can effect matter either with electro radio waves or focused intent i.e. brain waves which are electro magnetic in nature.We are electro magnetic beings.

    I will say this that I was healed of a disease that most doctors considerchronic and terminal and I would not be here talking to you righ now if I hadn’t.For disclosure I’d rather not say what but the disease is no longer in my body(as proven by DNA tests)though most of the medical community does not accept this.

    There is also talk of using strobing laser lights to treat some ailments.It’s in finding the frequency and type of wave.

  • @murrow: I’m sure the medical community accepts your disease is gone if it has been proven through DNA tests. If they don’t accept it, it must not really be proven.

    Also, spaces after periods are your friend (or more specifically, our friend because it helps us read your comments easier). I also merged your three comments into one.

  • murrowcronkite

    The medical community is not all knowing. They only know thier specialty and sometimes not all of that or general knowledge on a range of subjects. Not to deride them they are great and do alot of good for people but there is ignorance also.

  • murrowcronkite

    There is also an unwillingness to accept results even when they’re right in front of you. I’ve lived it.

  • murrowcronkite

    I have been in “remission” now for 9 years as proven by DNA tests.None of the pathogen in my system. When does remission become a cure?
    Ask your doctor that and see what they say.
    And it’s not cancer or aids.

  • remission means they can’t see it but they can’t be sure it’s not there. It’s like being agnostic; you can’t see God, but you can’t be sure He’s not there.

    And just because they hedge their bets in the language doesn’t mean they aren’t open to different ideas. And yes, all matter is, essentially, energy, but you can’t just pump energy in and cure a disease. Lasers are being used like radiation therapy, to make a specific change in a certain place. Not for some weird quantum-medicine reason. As for brain waves… they’re barely detectable outside the skull. Certainly not going to make much difference to someone a few feet away.

  • Jabster

    @Daniel: Yes but would it be any better than giving them a sugar pill in the right colour and telling them it’s an expensive new treatment that work wonders? Oh and I agree that acupuncture will make people feel better but even for pain relief them evidence is far from convincing. Trying to perform double blind trials is really rather difficult in these cases.

  • murrowcronkite

    There is scientific evidence that shows that focused intent(prayer?) changes the molecular structure of water. Our bodies are made up of mostly water.This is probably where the idea around holy water came from.There are also numerous springs of water around the world known for thier health benefits.One in particular in Lourdes,France is thought to be this way because of the “good vibes” of the people who live there. You could also Google “water dousing or “water witches” . Dousing is used not only to find water sources but has been documented to purify existing water sources. These are some of the best links for this subject;

    The lasers I spoke of are cold scalar lasers. Used to treat migranes pain, inflamation and stimulate lymph gland production , among other things. these are obviously minor ailments but it is interesting to note that people get results from it. These type of devices could be attributed to placebo affect ,but changing the molecular structure of water through focused intent as referenced above,cannot

  • murrowcronkite

    By the way how the stucture of the water is changed is that the molecules line up in an orderly patten rather than being more random and jumbled up.

  • murrowcronkite:

    I invite you to begin shedding the woo with a trip to Respectful Insolence.

    And if you have a genuine, scientific, double-blinded study from a reputable source proving that prayer does anything at all to water, I’d like a link.

    Bear in mind, I asked for “reputable.” Anti-vaccination sites, sites that promote trepanning or urine drinking, sites that promote conspiracy theory and such similar internet institutions are unlikely to impress.

  • @murrow: Do you believe everything you’re are told that sounds amazing? I’m really surprised you believe such claims.

    Dowsing has been proven to be wrong so many times it’s impossible to count. Of course you hit water when you dig far enough!

    See these videos:

  • murrowcronkite

    As I said the term water dousing does refer to more than just finding water and I am aware of the Quackery surrounding the subject. There have been almost as many quacks finding water I’d bet as qualified geologists and hydrologists for hundreds of years.
    But that is not why I even included that statment .It has become a term for a larger body of knowledge and activity. The Rymon Grace website might help to illminate this. He is respected by governments ,Law enforcement agencies,businesss and individuals around the country for the work he does. The people I have cited in previous comments have thousands even tens of thousands of people who benefit from the work they do. When you can do that I will shut up. The lectures of Bruce Lipton and Raymon Grace have been very helpful. Iam not a cult follower. Some of thier teachingd could help and even change the lives of those who wil hear.

  • murrowcronkite

    It is true that I am fascinated with the unusal. But I am skeptical too and not gullible.

  • murrowcronkite

    I’m sure someone might like to tackle the phenomenon of hundreds of cases of people who during surgery have gone into cardiac arrest, had thier EEG flatline (meaning no brain activity at all) and still apparently had conciousness enough
    to be able to recount exactly what went on in the operating room while the doctors revived them. Even down to exactly what was said and what intruments that were used.
    Many recount this saying it were as if they were floating above the doctors and could se thier own body as if they were floating at the top of the room.

  • murrowcronkite

    From the further files of Balderdash an Crackpottery;

    Click on the 53MB link under windows media to play.

  • Jabster

    @Metro: Makes you wonder what sort of “researchers” are out there doesn’t it – the mistakes made are just so obvious. Oh and if you want to see some really strange results a recent study indicated that just telling people they were fit was enough for objective measures (heart rate, blood pressure, weight etc.) to improve. The study was done on a a group of hotel room cleaners I think but I can’t find a link at the moment.

  • @murrow: You believe that prayer can make water molecules line up; that people can find water are minerals using sticks; you think paranormal activity exists — and I’m sure alot more things like that. And yet you describe yourself as a skeptic?! How exactly do you apply the skeptical worldview to all these claims you think exist? Every skeptic that I know denies them. There is no evidence.

  • murrowcronkite

    The issues I’ve commented on are made by intelligent, trained,credible people with many coroborating witnesses,
    in some cases backed up by scientific tests.
    I guess my point is that maybe science should investigate some of these claims further rather than dismissing them as
    unsubstantiated claims made by tin-foil hat wearing kooks.
    Anyone coming to our time from 600 years ago would think we were all majicians or gods. Many scientific discoveries have been made from what some people once thought was witchcraft.

  • murrowcronkite

    The reason alot of claims are not researched and the reason alot of substances are not researched is that a pharma or scientific research company cannot make money by selling somone smoething.
    You can grow many herbs and plants in your backyard that are as effective as medicine pharma companies want to sell you . Thy poo-poo them because they can’t make money on them.
    Processes that individuals could use to help thier lives relatively cheaply, without making huge profit for someone are dismissed as “poppycock”
    I am not an absolute conspiracy theorist either, but it wouldn’t be the first time we were lied to in order to line someone else’s pocket.

  • murrowcronkite

    The word free markets is an oxymoron in our current culture.
    You’ve heard of the term being “beta-maxed” or the domination of Windows operating system over Apple/Macintoshs’.
    These are only 2 examples in a history of modern business where the best interest of the public was subverted for someone’s profit.

  • I was in hospital recently and my prognosis was bad, the doctors expected me to die. (I didn’t)

    A priest came to see me (I was sedated on life-support) and my wife who was sitting with me waiting for me to die (Ididn’t)

    The priest offered to use some healing oils she had brought with her ( a lady priest (I live in Britain) and make some healing prayers. My wife declined the offer.

    Now if the priest had faith that the healing oils and prayers worked, surely she should have insisted on using her magic oils to save a life? If I had a cure that Iknew worked, I’d be forcing it on people who needed it and saving lots of lives.

    Obviously the priest doesn’t believe in prayer, either.