Doctors’ religious beliefs influence their views on end of life care

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 31 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4732


Medical scientists who are non-religious and espouse a strict
biological model of the mind tend to care less for prolonging life is a
serious statement. Theoretically this could be true of mental health
professionals who are sceptical about post mortem existence while they
deal with suicidal behaviour. The age-old belief in human spiritual
existence has weakened with the growth reductionist views of mind. Right
from the beginning of their medical education, medical professionals are
exposed to reductionist models of mind and consequently, the concept of
spirituality becomes inappropriate in their thinking. The concept of a
Supreme Being becomes irrelevant if there is no life after death. After
completing the anatomy dissection and physiology classes, I used to wonder
where the soul in all these is. For mainstream scientists to accept
survival after physical extinction and spirituality, they have to abandon
a neutral position on the fence, metaphorically launching themselves on to
the side of the following:
a. The possibility of some form of limited communication between
discarnate beings and living beings.
b. The existence of an imperceptible discarnate dimension.
c. The existence of a non-physical component that is in union with brain
and body - a non-reductionist model of mind.
d, The existence of a Divine Intelligence.

The prevailing reductionist model of mind has been recently
challenged satisfactorily 1,2,3 We are now in a position in which it may
be postulated that there is scientific evidence to enable a suspension of
disbelief in life after death.4 The commonly cited types of evidence for
discarnate existence are as follows: a. Clinical death experiences, b. Pre
-death visions, c. Collective apparitions, d. Some forms of mediumistic
incident, e. Children's memories of previous lives.

Unfortunately in survival research there are many phenomena that have
multiple alternative explanations, and these augment the complexity of
immensely significant area of scientific enquiry. Instead of illuminating
the survival
hypothesis, some kinds of alleged evidence have
compounded academic confusion. All the postulated types of evidence in
favour of discarnate survival are
simultaneously a form of evidence of a non-biological component that
operates in association with the brain, and vice versa. In other words,
proving post-mortem
existence is another route to establish empirically that humans have a
higher consciousness that survives physical extinction. The likelihood
that Marian
apparitional experiences are authentic has been demonstrated
scientifically.5 If we supplement the categories of evidence itemised by
survival researchers with the phenomenon of the Marian apparitions of the
recent centuries, we find that there are compelling reasons to support
those who are proponents of a belief in universal and
eternal discarnate survival. They prompt us to revise our physicalist
model of mind and scientific scepticism in a Divine intelligence. Marian
apparitions compel us to believe in the sanctity of life and help us to
appreciate the meaning of bodily life with sufferings. Bernard Haisch
(2006, 2010) has recently brought the concept of God into realm of
physicist's imagination. 2,3 In the absence of spiritual convictions,
human sufferings have no deeper meaning and death becomes the ultimate
tranquiliser; prolonging life at any cost would be perceived as a
worthless endeavour.

1.Kelly Edward; Kelly Emily Williams; Crabtree Adam; Gauld Alan;
Grosso Michael; Greyson Bruce (2006) The Irreducible Mind. Lanham:
Rowman& Littlefield Inc.

2.Haisch Bernard (2006) The God Theory. San Francisco: Wheel/Weiser

3. Haisch Bernard (2010) The Purpose-Guided Universe. New Page
Books: Franklin Lakes, N.J.

4.Brude Stephen (2003) Immortal Remains. New York: Bowman &
Littlefield Publishers.

5.Laurentin Rene and Joyeux Prof. Henrv (1987). Scientific and
Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje, Dublin, Mount Salus

No funding and no conflicts of interest

Competing interests: No competing interests

04 September 2010
Locum Consultant Psychiatrist
5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust,Leigh Infirmary, Leigh WN7 1HS