MEDICINE


I do not want anyone to think that the Bible is like a recent medical textbook.  The purpose of the Bible is far from that.  However, I invite you, the reader, to explore some passages in the Bible that hopefully will surprise and fascinate you about the possibility of there being Scientific Foreknowledge in the Bible.

THE ABSENCE OF CONTEMPORARY HARMFUL TREATMENTS


My own opinion is that there certainly appears to be statements in the Old Testament that clearly exceed the knowledge of that time.  As a physician, I am amazed at the advanced health regulations given in the Mosaic Law, especially since Moses and the Israelites had just come out of Egypt.  Now the time of the Exodus was about 1446 BC, and this was also the time when the Bible says God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and over 600 other laws.  Contemporary practices from the great knowledge and wisdom of the Egyptians was clearly known by Moses (Act 7:22), which very likely included the famous medical treatments such as are found in the Papyrus Ebers, which is dated about 1552 BC.  Dr. S. I. McMillen quotes a summary of some of the hundreds of remedies for diseases based on Massengill's (1943) assessment:

These drugs include "lizards' blood, swines' teeth, putrid meat, stinking fat, moisture from pigs' ears, milk goose grease, asses' hoofs, animal fats from various sources, excreta from animals, including human beings, donkeys, antelopes, dogs, cats, and even flies."1

It is clear that these treatments would not have been effective in eradicating illness, and in fact, the sewage treatments would have caused tetanus (including neonatal), wound infections, sepsis and death.  Yet, this was the greatest medical wisdom in the world at that time.  However, we find none of these things being commanded in the health regulations in the Law of Moses.  Now this would have been a major departure, not only for Moses, but also for the Israelites.  There must have been a substantial trust in God by Moses and the Israelites for them to have abandoned these harmful, though highly touted Egyptian medical practices as found in the Papyrus Ebers.

HYGIENE ISSUES


Instead we find in the Mosaic Law solid principles of public health that still apply today.  For example, major policies include the following:

  1. Isolating infected people (Lev 13:45-46).
  2. Washing after handling a dead body (Num 19:11-19).
  3. Burying excrement away from the camp (Deut 23:12-13).2

McMillen points out that the first policy was the only thing that stopped the Leprosy and the Black Death during the Dark Ages.3  The second policy was the only thing that stopped the obstetrical deaths in Vienna in the 1840's.4  The third policy was absolutely needed to stop the epidemics of typhoid, cholera and dysentery.5

Even today these simple public health principles, if properly used, would stop the spread of killer infections in hospitals.  Wash your hands under running water!  How simple does it get!  Yet, it is a constant battle to get physicians and nurses to wash their hands before treating the next patient.  The same thing applies to everyone who has an infectious illness such as influenza or diarrhea.  Wash your hands!  At this time there is a considerable concern about the spread of H1N1 (swine influenza).  Again, the recommendation is to "wash your hands!"

What is the point?  Moses was 3500 years ahead of his time.  Moses could not have known, based on his own education as a prince in Egypt, the simple and effective public heath principles that are revealed in the Mosaic Law.  The only way he could have learned these principles 3500 years ahead of their time was by receiving revelation from the all-knowing God.

FOOD RESTRICTIONS


The medical marvels in the Law of Moses are not confined to hygiene issues.  Food rules are impressive.  For example, swine are notorious for carrying trichinosis because of what they eat (i.e., raw garbage and infected rodents), and this disease can easily be passed to humans eating inadequately cooked pork.  Pork must be raised in a controlled environment and their meat cooked well-done in order to be safe for consumption.  Of course, Moses didn't know that, but God did and told the Israelites not to eat pork.

Another very interesting finding is that God commanded the Israelites through Moses not to eat fat (Lev 3:16-17).  It was only just a few years ago that the cholesterol hypothesis was proven:  High fat diets are not good for humans as these predispose people to higher rates of cholesterol plaques with all their complications such as heart attacks and strokes.  How could Moses have known on his own 3500 years ago that fat should be excluded from the diet of his people?  He didn't learn that from his Egyptian education!  Where did it come from?  It came from God.

CIRCUMCISION ON THE EIGHTH DAY


Considerably before Moses we find another excellent example of unanticipated appropriate medical advice.  Hemorrhagic disease of the newborn is due to a deficiency of vitamin K.  Today we give Vitamin K to newborns to prevent this illness.  However, this treatment was not possible for the ancients.  Therefore, it is amazing that the regulations for circumcision established by God with Abraham (Gen 17:10; 21:4) would time the circumcision for the 8th day after birth, the very day that the infant's Vitamin K dependent clotting factors would have normalized.  Coincidence?  I think not.

MENTAL HEALTH AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING


There is good evidence that "spiritual transcendence" is beneficial for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis.6  In fact, Proverbs (12:4; 14:30;15:30;16:24;17:22), as suggested by the Wikipedia article, contains information that is beneficial to mental health.  As that author says,

Modern science has found that certain proverbs contain advice toward sound mental and physical well-being.2

CONCLUSION


Therefore, there seems to be compelling evidence that the Bible contains sound medical principles that clearly predate their more recent discovery by thousands of years.  Dear friends, this is real Scientific Foreknowledge.  It reveals the finger of God, the breath of God.  He was there, and revealed these things to the ancients.

As an aside for my profession, I think it unfortunate for our patients that we as physicians and nurses and health care workers have been so slow to see the very basic principles of hygiene that were established so long ago.  If we had, we wouldn't be fighting a plague of infections like MRSA, multiply resistant enterococci, and multiply resistant flesh-eating bacteria, and multiply resistant EVERYTHING caused by poor hand washing and inadequate containment procedures.  My colleagues, we have been slow to learn, slow to believe, and slow to respond.  Our patients deserve better, and we all know it.

It was clear even to the ancients.

ENDNOTES:

  1. McMillen, SI. None of These Diseases.  Fleming H Revell Co, Old Tappan, NJ, ©1963, p 9.
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_and_the_Bible
  3. McMillen, ibid., p 11.
  4. McMillen, ibid., p 13-15.
  5. McMillen, ibid., p 13.
  6. Bartlett, S, et. al., "Spirituality, Well-Being, and Quality of Life in People With Rheumatoid Arthritis," in Arthritis & Rheumatism (Arthritis Care and Research) Vol. 49, No. 6, December 15, 2003, pp 778–783 DOI 10.1002/art.11456 © 2003, American College of Rheumatology. (You may read the article at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/106569762/PDFSTART)