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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is There a Doctor in the House? The Impact of Christianity in the Formation of Hospitals as We Know Them

In continuing our series on the book What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? and examining the impact of Jesus Christ on Western civilization, the next item I wanted to examine is the influence of Christianity in the area of hospitals and how they came about. Dr D. James Kennedy and Dr Jerry Newcombe write in Chapter 10 of their book that....

"Prior to the influence of Christ , we find that in some cultures there were a few scattered, rudimentary places where the sick were brought. This includes military hospitals for roman soldiers, and in ancient Greece, temples of Asculapius, where supersition abounded and where patients were taken advantage of by unscrupoulous priests.
Life was cruel prior to the influence of Jesus Christ. So caing for the nonuseful sick was not a priority. For example, Plautus, a Roman philosopher of the egoistic school said "A man is a wolf to a man whom he does not know."

The chapter goes on to point out that the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD instructed "every cathedral city in Christiandom" to "start a hospital". The historian George Grant stated that Saint Basil of Caesaria in the 4th century establish what could be described as the first "non-ambulatory hospital" that is, a medical center that had beds for it's patients. Also mentioned is "A wealthy Christian woman, Fabiola, , a disciple of St Jerome, is credited with having built the first hospital in the western world, in Rome, circa AD 400."
"The oldest hospital still functioning in the world today is the hotel Dieu (God) in Paris, established by st Landry around AD 600. It was a medical establishment then as well. I. Donald Snook, author of Hospitals: What They Are and how They Work wrote "Even by current standards, this early French hospital could truly be called a medical centre, since it embraced many of the varied activities necassary to care for the sick."
"The oldest hospital in the New World still in existance today is the Jesus of Nazereth hospital in Mexico City, established by Cortez in 1524. "

Compare the work of Christians in the field of health with that of atheists. "During the French Revolution there was a revolt against the Church-the hospital system essentially broke down. As many as one-third of France's hospitals ceased operating." In fact, according to author Colin Jones (The Charitable Imperative: Hospitals and Nursing in Ancient Regime and Revolutionary France), during that anti-clerical regime that "private charity seemed to dry up altogether".

Let me conclude by saying it was through the work of two dedicated Christians that many lives were saved as the work of hospitals was transformed. First was the father of modern bacteriology Louis Pastuer and the second was Joseph Lister who pioneered antiseptic surgery. were it not for these two dedicated Christians, who knows how many more lives would have been lost?


Ginx said...

I hope you realize that temples of Asclepius were no less advanced than Western medicine until the 19th century, while Hippocratic doctors who held private practices were arguably better than both (considering the primary "medicine" they would prescribe would be rest and fluids... much better than blood letting, leeches, mercury, or whatever strange concoctions we brewed up for centuries).

Considering you blame Stalin's atheism for his tyranny, I am not surprised you would credit Christianity with the scientific discoveries of people who were Christian. That issue aside, it was the understanding of germ theory and the abandonment of miasma theory which transformed hospitals from homes for the poor to die in to places of treatment. Hospitals were indeed essentially charity. Now... they're a business at best, a temple of Asclepius at worst.

Gregg said...

Interesting blog. Something I had not considered before. Like your tag line for the reason of your blog - have you read Drinking with Calvin and Luther: A History of Alcohol in the Church by Jim West? It is a great book. He has a rating chart of beer as an appendix. He gives 5 stars to Guiness Extra Stout but only 2 stars to my favorite Henry Weinhard.

tinkbell13 said...

Once again, JD has no concept of history at all. No point in arguing, you are right.

tinkbell13 said...

Never mind that the Aztecs had hospitals, and that the Ancient Egyptians even had an ambulance system and holistic medicine in place well before.... And, no... Do your own research. Just because you are too lazy to do it yourself does not mean that I will spoonfeed you.

tinkbell13 said...

I guess that JD never noticed the Latin Roots of the words "Hippocratic Oath".... You know, the oath that the doctors say when they get their license to practice.

JD Curtis said...

Aztec hospitals? Were these of the type that you had open heart surgery and shortly after you were seperated from your heart it went bouncing down the stairs of a temple dedicated to an Aztec god?

JD Curtis said...

I am not surprised you would credit Christianity with the scientific discoveries of people who were Christian

Christianity and science merits it's own thread. Coming SOON!

Marcus Wellington said...

Close. Compare the race of anyone advancing health. No coincidence there.

Gandolf said...

Is Christianity credited with stagnating mental health hospitals.The faithful were so convinced mental health was connected to devils and punishments for sin.

Ginx said...

Christians also built the first modern prisons, Gandolf. Same basic concept, I suppose.

JD Curtis said...

Compare the race of anyone advancing health. No coincidence there

Marcus, that is "why Christendom was so notoriously backward compared to non-clerical Africa" when it came to the formation of modern medical schools. That being said, I think Christianity had alot to do with it, not race.

Is Christianity credited with stagnating mental health hospitals.The faithful were so convinced mental health was connected to devils and punishments for sin

Thanks for keeping it short and sweet Gandolf.
"Geel is well known for the early adoption of deinstitutionalization in psychiatricPsychiatryPsychiatry is a medical specialty officially devoted to the treatment and study of mental disorders. The term was first coined by the German physician Johann Christian Reil in 1808....
care. This practice is based on the positive effects that placement in a host family gives the patient, most importantly access to family life that would otherwise have been denied. The legendary 7th-century Saint Dymphna, who had moved to the Geel area from Ireland, is usually credited for this type of care. The earliest Geel infirmary and the model where patients go into town, interact with the community during the day, and return to the hospital at night to sleep, date from the 13th century." Link

photogr said...

Todays scientific medical technology is still back in the dark ages. Why is it we can put a man on the moon be we still can't cure the common cold?

Why is it medical science cost so much and is only rationed out to the well heeled financially. There is no reason why any one has to suffer dementia, loss of eye sight, loss of hearing,be paralyzed, get cancer or any other many ailments?

Simple. We are not medically technically advanced as we should be because trillions are spent on wars, bailing out failed companies, building empires,and what evr cause that comes down the pike not medically related.

Marcus Wellington said...

Christendom never "was so notoriously backward" compared to Africa.

JD Curtis said...

Christians also built the first modern prisons, Gandolf. Same basic concept, I suppose

I thought Jeremy Bentham was an atheist. Where did you come across information that he was a Christian?

"The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell if they are being observed or not, thus conveying a "sentiment of an invisible omniscience".

The architectural figure "incorporates a tower central to an annular building that is divided into cells, each cell extending the entire thickness of the building to allow inner and outer windows. The occupants of the cells . . . are thus backlit, isolated from one another by walls, and subject to scrutiny both collectively and individually by an observer in the tower who remains unseen. Toward this end, Bentham envisioned not only venetian blinds on the tower observation ports but also mazelike connections among tower rooms to avoid glints of light or noise that might betray the presence of an observer." Link

JD Curtis said...

It's called "sarcasm' Marcus.

Marcus Wellington said...

Yes, but Africans are backwards compared to the White race. The reality isn't Africa vs Christendom.

If race has nothing to do with it, why say
"that is "why Christendom was so notoriously backward compared to non-clerical Africa" when it came to the formation of modern medical schools." sarcasitly?

The unsarcasity version of that comment is:
Africa is notoriously backwards compared to Chrisendom.

Can't you see that race has EVERYTHING to do with it. which is exactly how God planned.

JD Curtis said...

No, I don't subscribe to your extra-Biblical belief that "race has everything to do with it".

What if, instead of Christianity initially flourishing in Europe, it instead took hold in Sub-Saharan Africa? Would the world look a bit different now?

Gandolf said...

I found this interesting with regards to the progress of mental health


Gandolf said...

Ginx said... "Christians also built the first modern prisons, Gandolf. Same basic concept, I suppose."

Yeah prisons great places to harvest souls Ginx

Marcus Wellington said...

God has favored races, God has cursed races (E.g. the Curse of Ham). It has everything to do with it.

What if, instead of Christianity initially flourishing in Europe, it instead took hold in Sub-Saharan Africa? Would the world look a bit different now?

God has planned this out ahead of time. IT's a waste of time to think of it another way. It's HIS way or no way.

Marcus Wellington said...

and it's absolutly not an "extra-Biblical belief".
The suggestion offends me.
I never spend less than 2 hours reading the Bible each day.
God has groupd us by race, he refers to us by race. it'[s all there in The Book.
Anyway, and I say this in love, you need to stop twaddleing about with history and start conviting people with the Law, bringing repentance and bringing people to Christ.

Gandolf said...

Marcus Wellington said... "God has favored races, God has cursed races (E.g. the Curse of Ham). It has everything to do with it."

That is so true.In India its the Gods of Hinduism favoured the brown skinned Indians.

Marcus Wellington said...

Gods of Hinduism?
You mean demons.

JD Curtis said...

The "Curse of Ham" is a crock Marcus..

Answer 1 from Christiananswers.net and

Answer 2 from Eternal Perspective Ministries.

Gandolf said...

In New Zealand the Maori gods Ranginui and Papatūānuku seem to have favoured the Maori.


The English arrived here, but were still way to backward to be able to defeat them,so the English had to agree to sign a treaty.The Maori has such fine forts and excellent military skills their god called Tūmatauenga had blessed them with.Tūmatauenga the god of war.

Marcus Wellington said...

Ok let's examine your links

I knew that something did not sound right about the curse of Ham theory when I first heard it as a teenager. A white minister was giving me the biblical reason why my people and I had to endure the humiliation of American racism. Because I couldn't prove otherwise and because my favorite Bible, the famous Old Schofield Reference Bible (5), which had become the official version of American fundamentalism, endorsed the curse of Ham theory, I had little recourse other than to accept it.

what can I say? He's basically admitted that it doesn't matter what the Bible says, he just doesn't like it. (because he's black)


Never mind, of course, that the Bible says that Canaan, Ham's son, was cursed, not Ham himself.

Yes, not every non-white was born to be a slave. We already know that.


Never mind that the Bible places limitations on curses-only three or four generations at most (Ex. 20:5).

Read the verse. It is not a limitation on curses. All it says is some sims are so bad that God will punish your children (etc) too.

the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation

And never mind that God says that curses based on disobedience are reversed when people repent and turn again to obedience (Ex. 20:6).

Another irrelivant verse.

Marcus Wellington said...

(fixed spelling mistake) All it says is some sins are so bad that God will punish your children (etc) too.

Tracy said...

I find it interesting as I read this JD that some of your readers are so opposed to admitting that Christians did some good things; that historically we can trace good coming through followers of Christ.

Ginx & Tinkbell13 - Would you have the same reaction if someone traced some good done by atheists? Why are you so bound to point out only the bad things done by Christians?

Gandolf said...

Tracy i dont think people are so opposed to admitting that Christians do some good things,because im sure people do realise Christians are still very human, so being human will naturally do both good and bad, just like every human does.Because no humans perfect.

I think whats really becoming opposed worldwide more and more these days, is all bigoted movements of elitism.

I dont think people are even opposed to admitting Mahatma Gandhi did some good things.

Or the Dalai Lama

JD Curtis said...

Thank you Tracy and Gandolf. I stand by my assertion though. On net balance, Christianity has consistently proven to be better an a force for good than any other major religion in the entire world.

Gandolf said...

"Christianity has consistently proven to be better an a force for good "

Well JD in my opinion, any group that trys to claim some sort of elite status.

Must automatically first need to be trading the quality of honest "modesty" and of being honestly "humble",for blatant pride and vanity.

I do respect everyones right to make assertions,but in my opinion any idea of human elitism, is blatantly simply such a (self defeating) phenomena it becomes kinda ugly.

You simply trade the good qualities of "modesty" and "humble",for bad qualities of pride and vanity!?? .

Lowering ourselves immensely in the process!.

And its for this very reason, maybe historically specially Christianity, has a whole lot to be somewhat ashamed of

JD Curtis said...

I wouldnt say that at all Gandolf. It is merely a statement of fact. Let me add this. All too often, atheists lump all religions in together as if they are all of equal value. I'm not accusing you specifically, just pointing something out here. Nothing could be further from the truth if the subject is analyzed objectively.

Gandolf said...

So is your assertion now claimed as a fact.Do you personally believe maybe not all sparrows are to be considdered equal, maybe its the 5th ones thats a little more worthless?.

If analyzed objectively.

Im also just trying to point out to you JD, that in my opinion it seems to me just (as soon as) anybody starts (even thinking) of measuring these type of things in this manner.

The phenomena that ALWAYS follows, is they automatically lower themselves! in the process, in even thinking of bothering to take part in something that lacks so much in modesty and is honestly not about being humble.

"All too often, atheists lump all religions in together as if they are all of equal value"

Its a bit morally depleting to (even bother) to think any elite type thoughts surrounding these matters of enlightment JD,there is no perfection! and so (there is no obvious clear cut winner in the feild). So finding out who was maybe the best, better or worst etc.

Is just rather like children fighting over maybe who might have thrown the most or the least stones out in the playground.Its kinda pointless.

And those that try to do it,only make themselves look vain and immodest in the process.

Atheists maybe are quite right to lump matters of enlightenment all in together,these areas should be about cooperation not competition.

Not measured the same ways like we measure the individual effort of sportmen or company leaders etc.

As soon as anyone even trys to, they become immodest and can no longer be considdered as being honestly humble.

Ginx said...

@ Tracy:

nanos gigantium humeris insidentes

Ironically, the vary notion I, and I believe tink, are trying to grasp at was popularized by a Christian of indisputable accomplishment, Isaac Newton. You may know the term derived from it, "standing on the shoulders of giants." In Newton's words, the whole phrase is:

If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

This is itself borrowed from the Latin phrase I opened my comment with, which translates to "dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants."

You see, Christians have done plenty of things, especially given the fact that they were the overwhelmingly dominant religion on an entire continent for centuries. But when they started out, they did a horrible job of preserving knowledge. Christianity plunged Europe into a pit of scientific ignorance after the rejection of pagan philosophy and science. After all, the world was governed by God, and miracles broke the laws of nature, so there was no point in studying nature.

It took the reintroduction of Greek and Roman philosophy into Christendumb (sorry, Christendom, aka Europe) to spur the intellectual growth that became known as the Englightenment. The Christians were dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants.

Now the Christians are the giants, and we dwarves will always point to the homes of our brethren which you crush. But it is now we who today stand on the shoulders of Christian giants like Newton, Mendel, Kepler, Copernicus, even Darwin. You're welcome to come up here too, though I'm sorry if you're afraid of heights.

Ginx said...

Also, America's first prisons were all Quaker.

tinkbell13 said...

I completely agree with you Ginx, and to add-

Christianity is famous for promoting an elitist agenda. They infringe on the rights of others all of the time in the public sphere. I really could not care less what people believe and practice in the privacy of their own home. But, Christians are notorious for pushing their beliefs on our collective society.

Personally, I have never felt infringed on by any other religion. Jewish kids go to Hebrew School after school to learn their own language and customs. The education is paid for privately with money from their own community. They do not waste the money and time of the Supreme Court fighting to have their beliefs included in evidence based curriculums for education. At the same time, no Muslim has ever come to my door and invaded my personal space to tell me how lost I am. These are just two small examples. I could give many more.

When Christians begin to refine their practices and become able to demonstrate a basic respect for those that live outside of their beliefs, I will back off. Until then, they are fair game, and so much more. And, to further answer your question.... Christianity has not done so much for the world as you all believe. I keep repeating myself- read, learn history. See for yourself.

Ginx said...

But you see... Christians called them "hospitals," and therefore they invented the whole concept of treating the sick, just as Christians invented "universities," because before that no one ever learned anything, ever.

Christians also invented the "iron maiden," so I guess that means we can credit them with torture, as well.

JD Curtis said...

Ginx, according to the Law Encyclopedia ...

"Using long-term imprisonment as the primary punishment for convicted criminals began in the United States. In the late eighteenth century, the nonviolent Quakers in Pennsylvania proposed long-term confinement as an alternative to capital punishment. The Quakers stressed solitude, silence, rehabilitation, hard work, and religious faith. Confinement was originally intended not only as a punishment but as an opportunity for renewal through religion."

So I guess you would have preferred capital punishment instead?

JD Curtis said...

" from a passage in Augustine's The City of God, which refers to the death of Marcus Atilius Regulus, general and consul in the ninth year of the First Punic War...He is recorded therein as having been executed by the Carthaginians who "packed him into a tight wooden box, spiked with sharp nails on all sides, so that he could not lean in any direction without being pierced".. or by the account of Nabis of Sparta's deadly statue of his wife, Apega."

So please do tell of which denomination the Cathaginians and Spartans were adherents of.

tinkbell13 said...

JD- How about you actually take a look at medieval Christian torture practices? I took a course on medieval history when I was writing my first undergraduate degree, and your response to Ginx's posting clearly indicates that you know nothing of this era. No shock. I actually had to leave classes with my friend because some of the instruments were the sickest things that I had ever seen. So, instead of refute with your usual crap, why not learn?

JD Curtis said...

I believe Ginx stated that medieval Christians invented the Iron Maiden and I disputed that given much earlier accounts of such a device.

That and he seems to want people executed for crimes like was previously done according to the Law Encyclopedia rather than simply imprisoned as the Quakers maintained.

Is you name Ginx BTW?

tinkbell13 said...

You know what JD.... You are such an ignorant buffoon. The device may have been invented earlier, but the way that Christians refined and perfected the technique was outstanding. You really have no idea what you are talking about, yet again. Why do you not sit down and read something other than your evangelical (I need your money so I tell you what you want to hear) right winged crap and attempt to actually filter the world with some credible sources and information?

According to you, the whole world is sunshine and rainbows cause Christians gave us hospitals, alleviated the suffering of women, saved us from the heathen cannibals, created universities to deliver us from ignorance, and now they borrowed their most signature torture devices. You are so far off it is comical.

Reynold said...

Well, I do know that as far as the "Curse of Ham" goes, it does seem to be itself biblical (it's in the damned bible itself), and it was believed by no less than the father of modern creationism, Henry Morris.

Big long honking quote here so I'll just post the summary paragraph.

Yet the prophecy again has its obverse side. Somehow they have only gone so far and no farther. The Japhethites and Semites have, sooner or later, taken over their territories, and their inventions, and then developed them and utilized them for their own enlargement. Often the Hamites, especially the Negroes, have become actual personal servants or even slaves to the others. Possessed of a genetic character concerned mainly with mundane matters, they have eventually been displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites.

Yet Morris is one of the guys who accuses evolution of helping give rise to modern racism. The authours in one of their later statements (see links to the side) say that Morris wasn't a racist "in his heart of hearts" or something like that, but the man did hold at least some racist ideas.

Note all the links on the right hand side of that article. There are arguments back and forth between Jerry Bergman and the authours of the article. Read for yourself to see who wins.