Insight on the News
Whose Body Is It?
● Until recently, when a patient refused prescribed medical treatment in cases where life might be involved, the trend was to request court intervention, forcing a particular treatment on the patient. “But newer thinking casts doubt” on this trend, according to “Medical World News.” The journal observed that two recent U.S. court cases involving controversial cancer treatment indicated that “a patient’s right to make decisions about his own body was so basic that the state has to have an overwhelmingly good reason to interfere with it.”
The judge in one of the cases (“Rutherford” vs. “US”), noting the dilemma that a patient’s freedom of choice may put upon conscientious doctors, said: “It is never easy for one who is concerned and feels himself particularly knowledgeable to observe others exercise their freedoms in ways that to him appear unenlightened.”
However, the judge wrote that “to be insensitive to the very fundamental nature of the civil liberties at issue . . . and the fact that making the choice, regardless of its correctness, is the sole prerogative of the person whose body is being ravaged, is to display slight understanding of the essence of our free society.”
Grasping for Straws
● Darwin’s theory of evolution was based on the assumption of gradual change from one life-form to the next. But “the fossil record still proclaims [gradualism] false, after more than a century of diligent search for gradual change,” writes prominent evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould, professor of geology at Harvard University. “Paleontologists have documented virtually no cases of slow and steady transformation, foot by foot up the strata of a hillslope—not for horses, not for humans.”
“Instead,” admits Gould, “most fossil species share two features: First, they do not change in any marked way during the entire course of their existence; second, they enter the record abruptly, either replacing or coexisting with their ancestors. In short, stasis [stability] and sudden replacement mark the history of most species.”
To counter this seemingly insurmountable evidence, evolutionist Gould speculates that in each case, the evolving must have occurred relatively rapidly “in a small, isolated peripheral area,” which geologists have not as yet found in their diggings. Of course, such speculation affords an escape for evolutionists when confronted with this overwhelming evidence against their theory. However, does such probing in the dark have the ring of objective, unbiased scientific thought? Or does it, rather, reflect the frantic gropings of the dogmatist who has been exposed?
● What about people who have come near death and returned, claiming to have had spiritual or out-of-body experiences? Many consider this proof that there is an afterlife, or evidence of an immortal soul that lives on at death. However, Psychiatrist Nathan Schnaper of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medicine disagrees. He “sees hundreds of revived trauma patients each year in his work,” reports “Medical World News,” and “discount[s] the tales as psychological fantasies.”
Dr. Schnaper says that the hundreds of patients he has talked to “say it was very unpleasant and they don’t want to talk about it, when they remember anything at all.” He believes that those who claim to remember out-of-body events “are experiencing a vacuum, and psychologically we can’t abide a vacuum. It’s a void that must be filled, so they invent these experiences. . . . I don’t believe there is any proof these people have visited an afterlife.”
“Medical World News” notes that even a doctor who favors further investigation of such “afterlife” experiences admits that “there may be a biochemical, electrical, or hypoxic [oxygen starvation] explanation.”—See “The Watchtower” of September 1, 1977, p. 519.
Hence, the recent flurry of claims of immortality is no reason to doubt the Bible’s clear teaching that “as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all,” and “in that day [of death] his thoughts do perish.”—Eccl. 9:5; Ps. 146:4.