When people talk about science they mostly refer to medicine when they want to “prove” that science is “good” (and thus, according to their illogical logic, religion is bad). Medicine is the science which after all makes us well when we are ill. Medicine is the science which keeps us more alive. Correct? Wrong!
If we take a look at what medicine really is we will realize that it is not the best argument one could think of to support science…
First of all, it is a common mistake to mistake Technology for Medicine. The technology behind a bypass surgery for example is a technology even a plumber could explain and understand: if a pipe is broken, you should fix it. As simple as that. Do not get me wrong. I have talked to people saved by such surgery. What I want to note is that we should not mistake “mechanics” for “science”. Fixing a blood pipe or making a nerve working as it worked before (but without actually knowing what it does when functioning) is too far away from “medical science”.
And in many ways medicine could really reduce the quality of your life. In the old days people did not have good diagnostic tools and lived happily until their disease reached a critical point. Now someone might learn that he has a gene problem that could lead to his death until his 60th birthday with a probability of 57%. How could that be an improvement of his life?!?!? Relying too much on gene therapy and on gene prognosis can change the name of “medical science” into “eugenics”. And this is certainly not a good thing!
However it is true that medicine makes us live longer. Let us truly examine the question: how important is that? We all live (in the western world) about 80 years more or less. How important is it that a specific technology prolongs the life of a person for 2 or 5 years? How important is it that I get to live X years and you get to live X+2 years? If you look at those numbers from the viewpoint of eternity, the argument of “life extension” becomes ridiculous. What is truly important is to live a good life.
But isn’t having, for example, painkillers an improvement of life? someone might ask. Yes and No I would say. Pain is something we want to avoid. But so is eating healthy food. If you look back at your life you will see that the pain you felt is what defines you. Not the happy moments. How willing are you to live a life without pain? Would that be life at all? I most certainly use painkillers when I am in pain. I am not claiming that I don’t. However I am a weak human being and as such, my habits on such matters should not be benchmarks for the philosophical analysis of the currently debated matter. If you ask me, I will try to avoid pain if I can. But don’t all philosophers claim that the right path is the path with the most pain involved? Are we really in such a position to argue with them?
Finally and regardless of all the above we should examine the ESSENCE of medicine. And it must be noted that its main characteristic is the doctor-patient relationship. Not the technology used. Not the medicine used. The human relationship between two people is what defines the whole medical profession. The oath of Hippocrates, the psychological support, the effect faith has in healing people (medicine can be too “irrational” and too “unscientific” if we bother to look at the depth of such an effect), the proved fact that people who have lost their will to live die more easily than those who want to stay alive et cetera, all point towards the same point: Medicine is about humans. Not about lifeless sets of bones and blood! Medicine which ignores the spiritual aspects of humans is simply not medicine.
Prognosis is good.
Medicine is good.
Technology is good.
But only if you do not overdo it.
Staying too attached to your body as if it is all there is, is not good.
Humans should live. Not consider themselves “complex machines” and try to prolong their “functioning” while having lost the true meaning of life.