There are few things in life that affect our happiness, productivity, and faith more intensely than our personal health and the health of our loved ones. Few things draw communities together in love and support like the news of a friend suffering injury or chronic disease, and few things unite us in praise like a remarkable recovery.
By the numbers, our country appears to be even more obsessed with health and the idea of health than any other. Americans spend 40 billion dollars on diet pills every year, and 1.5 billion on dietary supplements and vitamins. We spend more on basic healthcare than any other country but our life expectancies are largely lower than in other rich nations. Control of regulations regarding the choices individuals are allowed to make about their personal health drives our elections to a large degree. Bioethical concerns in research and dissemination polarize us socially, culturally, and even religiously.
It’s easy to see problems here, but hard to agree on where they come from and what we should do about it. Whose responsibility is it to address these issues? Should Christians allow their faith to affect how they think about the science behind health and medicine, or not? How much should we embrace suffering and our own mortality, and how much should we try to fight it?
What should we know about how our bodies, and the drugs and nutrients we put in them, work? Who should we believe about the future of biological enhancement and innovative medicine? A great portion of the science stories published in new outlets each day herald medical advances that aren’t even available to consumers yet, and which may never realize the potential that was insinuated by early experiments in the lab. It seems the “experts” say new things every day about the relative risks or benefits of, say, drinking coffee, or doing yoga, or consuming milk products and gluten and genetically modified foods.
To be sure, we’re all members (or captives, if you prefer) of the information age, and sometimes the availability of seemingly well-supported information and advice is suffocating. As search engines track and record our movements through cyberspace, and the invisible hands of cleverly coded programs push articles and advertisements our way, we might find it hard to rely on our common sense to guide us in making good decisions and believing only the best research out there.
This issue of God & Nature Magazine will seek to explore both classic and trending topics in health and medicine from a Christian perspective, with emphasis on the experience and insight of scientists and doctors working in the field. For regular updates on the content we post, follow along via our RSS feed or the ASA’s Facebook and Twitter pages! To get involved, comment, or contribute, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.