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34611Re: We all believe in something....

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  • John French
    Sep 1, 2005
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      Hi Barry,

      You say that "The human has one little piece of the DNA chain that
      predisposes the
      human being to faith...

      "So in a chemical sense, within the human body - we all have a need
      to believe...

      "it's only a question of what!"

      This is a fascinating claim that raises huge questions about the difference
      between the scientific method and faith. Do you have any scientific support
      for your claim? Has a specific gene been found that is causal to faith in
      the human being?

      To my knowledge no source for human faith has been found. Yet as a health
      scientist, I find examples of the results of faith everywhere in scientific
      data. The Placebo Effect relies on apparently unattended faith, and abounds
      in clinical trials of all kinds of medicines. Only in the last few years is
      the Placebo Effect being studied in and of itself, to the point that it is
      being realized that it is greater among some kinds of medicines than
      others, and that it is often a powerful force.

      Because I am a person of faith, I read the scientific literature carefully.
      So far the questions of how it works have not been answered beyond simple
      statements of faith itself. Intelligent Design, for example, is a statement
      of faith rather than a scientific theory. Homeopathy is an example of the
      Placebo Effect at work, according to a recent research study, which claims
      that at least the homeopathic treatments studied result in responses no
      different than those found in placebos.

      Some people, whether because of faith or some other reason, respond to
      placebos, and as a result swear by them. Any well executed clinical trial
      of Vitamin B1 as a mosquito repellent will find some cases where it seems
      to work. But so will trials of other substances equally ineffective. Go figure.

      Good science is not inimical to good faith. It just moves slowly. It needs
      to develop vocabularies of faith to explain phenomena which could be
      squeezed into the placebo effect, but which deserve better, such as the
      remarkable recovery from cancer of Norm Cousins through humor, and the
      longevity of Jay Goulding 20 years beyond his expected life span apparently
      through scientific reasoning.

      So as far as I know, the Placebo Force remains unexplained and
      unidentified, as are the results of all other forms of faith. But they seem
      to work in my life, so I just trudge the road of happy destiny and remember
      that some things belong to science, and some things are purely products of
      my faith, which can be scientifically studied, but which will undoubtedly
      remain a mystery of life in spite of all my earnest but puny attempts to
      rise above the human condition and explain them. I am constantly being
      reminded to stop analyzing and just accept, when it comes to matters of
      faith. When I do that, things seem to be better :)

      So whether anyone has found a bit of DNA that determines faith, if such
      exists, is immaterial to the way I live my life. It remains only an
      interesting scientific question.

      John French
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