GP accused of “pushing religion” on patient opts for full GMC hearingBMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d3275 (Published 24 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3275
All rapid responses
Talking about God is at least as well, or as poorly, evidenced based as almost all the protocols adhered to in the intensive care units where many of us will eventually die.
The actions of the GMC are influenced by a response to movements, and dare I say it, prejudices in society, together with a need to promote careers, not all of which I suspect will be shown in the future to be driven by humanitarian ideal.
Competing interests: No competing interests
Is talking about God to be banned from clinical care?
"A Christian GP" says Clare Dyer (May 24) "who refused to accept a
formal warning from the General Medical Council for speaking to a patient
about Jesus is to take his case to a full hearing." . As this matter is
now sub-judice I refrain from the details, but focus on principles that I
consider are relevant.
THE REAL DIMENSION OF OUR PATIENTS
An important discussion is proceeding apace right now in the British
Medical Journal on "Let's talk about dying"  and "Helping doctors to
talk about death" . We doctors are divided into two broad groups: (a)
Those who believe in a spiritual dimension to man, and (b) Those who
reject such a dimension as superstition . These two groups vary in
their approach to the dying patient who wants to talk about their imminent
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SPIRITUAL IN CLINICAL MEDICINE
Writing 34 years ago in the BMJ I had this to say: "There is a vast
area of man's experience called 'the spiritual realm' that neither
Freudian psychoanalysis nor 'the scientific method' can fathom" . In
some doctors' opinion "Man's spiritual experience is often confused with
the merely psychological or dismissed as a purely Pavlov-type
physiological process".  I then went on: "But the truth is that man's
clinical problems are sometimes a mixture of the physical, psychological,
and spiritual, and while patient management on the lines of the first two
can often produce excellent results the spiritual aspect is often called
for to give lasting help".  But here is a snag, which is that "correct
appreciation of a patient's spiritual problems does not depend on the
brilliance of the counsellor ... because the approaches to scientific
truth and spiritual truth are different, as was admirably pointed out in
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones' critique of William Sargant's controversial book
'Battle for the Mind'". [5 6] Both Martyn Lloyd-Jones and William
Sargant practised as Consultants in London Teaching Hospitals, the former
as a Physician at St Bartholomew's Hospital and the latter as a
Psychiatrist at St Thomas's, yet Sargant failed to recognize spiritual
events, which he interpreted as "simple physiological mechanisms" [7, page
xxii]. While some doctors with superb brains who today hold the views that
William Sargant held may not be able to contribute anything spiritual to
the present on-going discussions on "Let's talk about dying"  and
"Helping doctors to talk about death"  other doctors, including myself,
know exactly what Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones would have said: "I am the
resurrection and the life;" says The Lord Jesus Christ, "he that believeth
in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and
believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this?"  Extraordinary
words spoken moments before the four-days-dead Lazarus was brought back to
life by a Divine Command! .
BUT WHO IS THIS LORD JESUS CHRIST?
We are here confronted by a realm of the spiritual when an historical
event, quite unfathomable by any scientific reasoning, produced two
different reactions from the onlookers of this suprascientific phenomenon:
(i) One group was so awed by what they had just witnessed that they
worshipped The Lord Jesus . (ii) The other group, equally astonished,
reacted with "Kill him, and kill Lazarus too" . Science is not
equipped to understand some historical events [12 13]. No scientific
colossus has underlined better the fact of scientific incompetence in
unravelling certain truths than has my favorite Medicine/Physiology Nobel
Prize winner Sir Peter Medawar . Even Sir Francis Crick, the DNA
Double Helix Nobel Prize co-winner learnt this painfully when he tried to
fathom the "origin of the genetic code" and failed so dismally  that
he was forced to use the non-scientific word "miracle" to describe the
"origin of life".  And yet scientists with lesser brains insist that
both the "origin of life" and "the end of life" (death) must be
scientifically explicable. No, says The Lord Jesus Christ. Everything
about Him is suprascientific. He is not only the resurrection and the
life, but He also said "Before Abraham was, I AM"  Can anyone wrap
their brains around that? He divides all Human History into two: Before
Christ (BC) and AD (In the year of Our Lord). This is not hypothesis, as
the modern skeptics well confirm whenever they write a cheque. When they
date a cheque June 3 2011 even the modern "Kill him, and kill Lazarus too"
versions of their Bethany prototypes are proclaiming loud and clear that
this Lord Jesus lived, and He did those astonishing things around Two
Thousand and Eleven Years ago.
LEGAL EFFECTS OF ACCEPTANCE/NONACCEPTANCE OF THE SPIRITUAL
Doctors who do not agree that the scientific method is perfectly
adequate to explain life and death issues must be made to shut up, or risk
punishment? Is that the society we find ourselves in now? Clinicians
accepting a spiritual dimension to their patients and who must needs
approach "Let's talk about dying"  and "Helping doctors to talk about
death"  differently from their colleagues who teach and preach that
when you die that's the end - kaput! - those godly clinicians in present
day Great Britain stand in danger of being struck off for being
unprofessional? Fortunately, like some brilliant modern scientists who
believe in God [18 19] there are enough competent QC's who also believe in
a spiritual realm, and who can successfully defend not only embattled but
also baffled clients against harassment from an increasing number of
haters of God in our society.
PATRONIZING ADVICE TO POSTGRADUATES HALF MY AGE
May I please, patronizingly, advise postgraduates half my age about
the widely held misguided belief that when attested historical events
cannot be explained scientifically, then the events have not occurred? Way
back in 1969 when many postgraduates reading this rapid response of mine
were yet to be born, the veteran Editor of the British Medical Journal Dr
Hugh Clegg (in the days when Personal Views were invited, and paid for
generously) kindly wrote to me at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana
and asked me to submit a Personal View from Africa. I thanked God and took
courage because what he promised me then for one Personal View was
equivalent to more than my 3 months' Ghana salary as a Physician
Specialist! I quickly submitted a few articles, one of which was on
"Superstition and phenomena in Africa", describing solid facts that no
branch of Science could ever explain. That was the first time I used the
word "suprascientific" . Make no mistake about it; there are many, many
things that Science and human reason cannot fathom. And the brighter you
are, the more quickly the truth of this will dawn on you. Blaise Pascal
(1623-62) put it quite beautifully when he said "There are two excesses:
to exclude reason, to admit nothing but reason. The supreme achievement of
reason is to realize that there is a limit to reason. Reason's last step
is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are
beyond it. It is merely feeble if it does not go as far as to realize
THE HUMAN SOUL
One of the things that Science has no tools to investigate is the
human soul. Scientists who say "There is no scientific evidence for the
existence of the soul" have not made a profound discovery. Pascal and
Medawar would have told them that. Let Postgraduates half my age, please
move from the "what to think" default cerebral mode which these days
regurgitates only atheistic received wisdom, to the "how to think" default
mode which will quickly bring the realization that there is absolutely
nothing in Science textbooks that deals with the human soul. . I once
said: "There is no scientific definition of a soul"  and that the
question "For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world
and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange of his soul?
 is quite unfathomable in scientific terms. Such questions belong to
what I once called 'the suprascientific'  because there is a dimension
of man (the spiritual) which Science has no tools to fathom" [4 5 12 21].
Be prepared therefore, young Scientist, for severe criticism from those
who think we must not teach anything other than that when we die, we die,
and that's it - kaput!
Competing Interests: I declare that when reading Science in
University I became a staunch believer in The Lord Jesus Christ on Friday
24 October 1952 AD, and have never looked back.
Felix I D Konotey-Ahulu MD(Lond) FRCP(Lond) DTMH(L'pool)
Aggrey Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics University of Cape Coast,
Ghana and Consultant Physician Genetic Counsellor in Sickle Cell and Other
Haemoglobinopathies 10 Harley Street, London W1G 9PF [felix@konotey-
1 Dyer Clare. GP accused of "pushing religion" on patients opts
for full GMC Hearing. http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d3275.full May
BMJ 2011; 342.d3275
2 Lakhani Mayur. Let's talk about dying. Personal View. BMJ 17 May
3 Wolff Toni, Horridge Karen, Allard Amanda. Helping doctors to
talk about death.
Rapid Response 26 May 2011
4 Konotey-Ahulu FID. Superstition and phenomena in Africa. Personal
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/2/5648/48.pdf BMJ 1969; 2: 48
doi:10.1136/bmj.2.5648.48 (April 15 1969
5 Konotey-Ahulu FID. The spiritual and the psychological in
BMJ 1977; 1: 1595. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.6076.1595
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/1/6076/1595.pdf June 15
6 Lloyd-Jones D Martyn. Conversions Psychological and Spiritual.
The Intervarsity Fellowship. London, 1959
7 Sargant William. Battle for the Mind. William Heinemann Ltd,
8 Holy Bible. St John 11 verses 25 & 26 : "I am the
resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead,
yet shall he live. And whosever liveth and believeth in me shall never
die. Believest thou this?"
9 Holy Bible St John chapter 11 verses 43 & 44: "And when
Jesus thus had spoken he cried with a loud voice, 'Lazarus come forth!'
And he that was
dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes; and his face was
bound about with a napkin. Jesus said unto them: 'Loose him, and let him
10 Holy Bible. St John chapter 11 verse 45. "Then many of the Jews
who came to Mary believed, and seeing these things which Jesus did,
believed on him".
11 Holy Bible St John chapter 11 verses 46, 47 ...to John chapter
12 verse 11. "But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told
them what Jesus had done. Then they gathered the chief priests and
Pharisees, and said: 'What do we? Chapter 11 verse 53 "Then from that day
forth they took counsel together to put him to death. ...chapter 12 verses
10 & 11: But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus
also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away
and believed on Jesus".
12 Konotey-Ahulu FID. The suprascientific in clinical medicine: a
challenge for Professor Know-All. Brit Med J 2001; 323(7327): 1452-1453
13 Lloyd-Jones D Martyn. Truth Unchanged, Unchanging. Crossway
Books, Wheaton, Illinois 1993, pages 111-117.
14 Medawar P. The Limits of Science. Oxford, Oxford University
15 Crick, Francis HC. The origin of the genetic code. Journal of
Molecular Biology 1968; 38: 367-379.
16 Crick Francis HC. Life itself; its nature and origin. Simon and
Schuster, New York 1981, page 88.
17 Holy Bible: St John chapter 8 verses 58 & 59. "Jesus said
unto them: 'Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM". Then
took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of
the temple, going through the midst of them and so passed by."
18 Andrews Edgar. WHO MADE GOD? Searching For A Theory of
Everything. EP Books, Faverdale North, Darlington, England, 2009.
19 Sarfati Jonathan. THE GREATEST HOAX ON EARTH? Refuting Dawkins
on Evolution [A response to 'The Greatest Show on Earth; the evidence for
evolution]. CREATION Book Publishers. Atlanta, Georgia.
20 Pascal Blaise. Pensees (1657). London: Penguin Books, 1966
(Translated by A Krailsheimer)
21 Konotey-Ahulu FID. The soul is suprascientific. BMJ Rap.Response
May 16 2008
22 Holy Bible: St Mark chapter 8 verses 36 & 37, and St Matthew
chapter 16 verse 26.
Competing interests: I declare that when reading Science in University I became a staunch believer in The Lord Jesus Christ on Friday 24 October 1952 AD, and have never looked back.