Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Don't Fall Into The Quacks

No, of course homeopathy should not be funded by the NHS. Does anyone know of a specific philosophical-theological critique of “like cures like”? I can just tell that there has to be one. And in any case, how can there be any such thing as “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine”? If it works, then it is just medicine. And it does work, doesn’t it?

The current popularity of these things is, like so much else, the result of our culture’s having moved away from the uniquely Christian rejection of humanity’s otherwise universal concepts of eternalism (that the universe has always existed and always will), animism (that the universe is a living thing, an animal), pantheism (that the universe is itself the ultimate reality, God), cyclicism (that everything which happens has already happened in exactly the same form, and will happen again in exactly the same form, an infinite number of times) and astrology (that events on earth are controlled by the movements of celestial bodies).

Science cannot prove that these closely interrelated things are not the case; it simply has to presuppose their falseness, first established in thirteenth-century Paris when their Aristotelian expression was condemned at the Sorbonne specifically by ecclesial authority, and specifically by reference to the Biblical Revelation.

This is why science as we now understand the term never originated anywhere other than in Medieval Europe. And it is why science did not last, or flower as it might have done, in the Islamic world: whereas Christianity sees the rationally investigable order in the universe as reflecting and expressing the rationality of the Creator, the Qur’an repeatedly depicts the will of Allah as capricious.

By turning away from ecclesial authority’s articulation and protection of the Biblical Revelation, and by turning away from the Biblical Revelation itself, the civilisation that these things called into being has turned away from science and towards eternalism, animism, pantheism, cyclicism and astrology, to the extent that a few years ago a Doctorate of Science was awarded to François Mitterand’s astrologer by, of all institutions, the Sorbonne.

And eternalism, animism, pantheism, cyclicism and astrology, inseparable from each other, underlie, among so very much else, each and every form of “alternative medicine” or “complementary medicine”, contradictions in terms that these are.


  1. Does anyone know of a specific philosophical-theological critique of “like cures like”?

    I don't. Why do you want one? "Like cures like" is a scientific statement which, inasmuch as it's testable, has indeed been tested and found false. It's hard to imagine what a philosophical-theological critique would look like, or what it would add to "It's not true".

  2. Are all scientists philosophically and historically illiterate?

  3. Ariel's quite right. "Like cures like" is not a philosophical/theological statement, any more than "aspirin relieves headaches" is. Its proponents might want to believe that they're stating some sort of fundamental metaphysical truth, but they're not. At best, it's wishful thinking. Taking them at their own evaluation is a major intellectual error.

  4. Anonymous, no, only the ones who stopped at an early stage. For example, Richard Dawkins, with a forty-year-old doctorate and forty intervening years of publishing essentially the same book of incompetent philosophy, theology and history. There are times when academic tenure rights do not look like quite such a good idea.