This religion is the greatest threat to Western society.


Forget ISIS. Forget the Taliban. Forget Quiverfull. There's a new extremist religion that is permeating our society, and its tendrils are reaching to the highest levels in our government. You won't hear its adherents uttering the name of their religion, but it has all of the characteristics of a religious cult. It has leaders who are idolized and whose pronouncements dare not be questioned. Similarly, it requires that all of its adherents believe in the exact same dogma. Any variation from the accepted "truth" results in excommunication, shunning, and economic ruin.

At the same time, this religion engages in barbaric practices, including the ritual torture and murder of animals. Some of its temples have their own standing armies.

If you're not worried yet, you should be, because this religion is increasingly controlling public discourse in this country, using astroturf groups and social media to  limit debate and control thought.

This religion? It's called Scientism. And it is doing far more damage to our country and our society than Muslim extremists ever will.

Scientism is the belief that the methods of science are the only appropriate means of inquiry about the universe, and that only its conclusions are valid. While its practitioners usually claim they are practicing "science" (the methodology) rather than "science" the religion, most of the educated masses in the West are, in fact, believers in scientism.

The priests of scientism are, of course, the scientists. Like any priest, he or she wears traditional garb that identifies him as a member of the exalted class -- the lab coat -- and is accompanied by various instruments of office, depending on their sect. Philosopher Ivan Illich has pointed out that the medical priest, for example, often wears a stethoscope around his neck that identifies him as a member of the exalted. Others may be accompanied by various forms of obscure computing devices or, increasingly, wearable tech.


Their temples are windowless, climate-controlled, artificial environments with guarded entries to keep out the hoi polloi, because they surely could not understand the arcane rites within and would likely confound its rituals. Their temples also serve to wall out the wider world with its chaotic processes and systems so exceedingly complex that they still overwhelm the Scientist's wards of office.

In one respect, at least, they are correct -- I doubt that the common man would understand the Very Important Reasons for keeping sentient animals in five point restraints with their skulls exposed, under constant torture until they die, all so that we can better understand the Supreme Knowledge, to use but one example of the excesses of this religion.

What Scientism's practitioners have forgotten is that science is a tool, not a belief system, one tool among many which mankind can use to understand and organize the world. And science is a spectacularly useful tool, that should not be denied. None of you reading this blog does not benefit almost every second of every day from the fruits of scientific investigation.

Yet the true believers go too far. As scientist Austin Hughes has written about his profession, "The temptation to overreach, however, seems increasingly indulged today in discussions about science. Both in the work of professional philosophers and in popular writings by natural scientists, it is frequently claimed that natural science does or soon will constitute the entire domain of truth. And this attitude is becoming more widespread among scientists themselves. All too many of my contemporaries in science have accepted without question the hype that suggests that an advanced degree in some area of natural science confers the ability to pontificate wisely on any and all subjects." (Hughes, Austin L. "The Folly of Scientism." The New Atlantis. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2015.)

But like all tools, science must be guided by morals, ethics and systems of constraint that are not part of its own organization. However, that does not exist today. While there are boards of ethics which presumably oversee some research, all of these boards consist of practitioners of Scientism themselves, either as lay members of the church, or as clergy. That's exactly the same as having the Catholic church investigate its priests in claims of pedophelia, and the results in Scientism have been just about what you would expect.

Scientism now invades our public discourse on matters of great importance. Take, for example, the recent controversy regarding vaccination policy. The pro-vaccination camp immediately claimed the high ground of alleged scientific legitimacy, accusing all naysayers of being "anti-science." Now identified as heretics, those questioning current vaccination policy were considered fair game for all of the usual behavior-control tactics available to religion: Shaming, shunning, accusations of other-worship -- in other words, the exact same techniques used by all extremist religionists to eliminate dissent.

What got lost in the astroturfed "debate" was a nuanced and critical examination of what the research actually does say about the risks and benefits of vaccines -- something which varies from vaccine to vaccine, and is not the monolithic single risk/benefit equation that the pro-vaccination camp tries to glue over a much more topographical research landscape. They don't want you to see that their gods don't always agree.

The need to adhere to established doctrine does not just apply to the populace at large, however. It applies even more strictly to the acolytes and junior priesthood, who lose jobs and careers if they dare to question the recieved wisdom of institutional science.

Even those with established bona fides are not secure from the tyranny of scientific zealots. You saw it with Linus Pauling, as he explored the concepts of orthomolecular therapy before that discussion could be controlled by the pharmaceutical companies. Or, to cite a more recent example, Rupert Sheldrake's banned TED talk and his ongoing excommunication for having the temerity to advance a research-based hypothesis of vitalism.

Scientism presents a danger on many fronts, not only in its ability to frame public policy debate in ways which force a predetermined income but, more importantly, by controlling the nature of scientific inquiry itself. The rate and direction of scientific advance is entirely dependent on the questions scientists ask. The more that these questions are restricted to only support the status quo, the less progress will be made, eventually turning the focus of science so inward on itself that the entire charade of "advance" collapses.

Perhaps that will be a good thing. At that point, we as a society will become more free to choose the best lenses through which we view the world, and in so doing, escape the tyranny of materialistic rationality -- a tyranny which has as its only goals the elimination of self-determination, quashing of educated discourse, and invalidation of the richness of individual experience.

A Meditation on Spirituality and Health

Self-appointed "skeptics" frequently point to practices such as mine, claiming that I'm engaging in nothing but voodoo witchcraft, preying on those so ill and so without hope that they will grasp at any straw proffered them, ante up any outrageous fee desired, and dearly pay for the false hope which I and my colleagues allegedly peddle.

My patients, of course, know the reality is far different. They know me as a hard-headed pragmatist, whose foremost rule is "Find it, fix it, and get out of the way." They know me as a doctor who will rather unflinchingly -- though I hope not unkindly -- point out how they have contributed to their own ill health, while also finding ways they can repair the damage. And they know that my fees are modest; I am unlikely to bathe in gold coin anytime soon from the revenues of my practice.

What they don't know, unless they ask, is that each discipline that I practice, whether it is chiropractic, acupuncture, or herbal/nutritional therapy, is supported by a wealth of scientific research that supports every modality that I use.

When I have used acupuncture to treat children with Tourette's syndrome -- usually successfully, I might add -- I can point to not just one, but several studies that support and guide my intervention.

When I blend a custom herbal formula for a patient suffering from a cold or urinary tract infection, I am relying on studies which show me that the herbs in question are more effective than anything in the MD's formidable arsenal. Though of course, the FDA would have the fantods were I to be so foolish as to make the claim that herbs can actually kill the bacteria causing the infection, even though studies exist demonstrating that very fact. So I won't make the claim that herbs can help cure the common cold, even though substantial research exists supporting that statement.

And when I explain to an acupuncture patient that Qi is a life-force running through their body, and that the flow of this Qi can be altered by placing needles at certain points along that flow, I know that I am using a time-tested analogy for a phenomena that we are only beginning to touch upon in Western science. It is likely that this Qi is actually a form of intercellular communication, and that acupuncture alters the nature of that communication. When you begin to change the body's command and control systems, your results are going to be powerful and intersystemic, which is why both acupuncture and chiropractic have such profound effects on people. Chiropractic adjusting, through its influence on neural communication, and acupuncture, through its alteration of intercellular ionic flow, are both acting on a meta level, thus their widespread effects.

With all of that said; with all of my adherence to the logical discrimination of disease and therapeutics, and my hard-headed emphasis on results, I cannot ignore the power of my patient's spirits, nor their immeasurable will to survive, improve, and in some cases achieve a level of health they never thought possible. Where does this will come from, and how does it manifest its results? Most importantly from my perspective, how can I help my patient harness that power?

Multiple studies have shown that intercessory prayer have little effect on disease outcome. Nonetheless, it is often through their religion or spiritual beliefs that people harness that powerful exercise of volition which dramatically alters the course of their disease.

Despite increasingly frequent forays into this domain, the realm of the spirit remains largely opaque to the otherwise piercing lenses of science. There is some evidence that  our brains are hardwired, as it were, to engage in spiritual practice; to "believe" in unquantifiable, unmeasurable forces which help to direct our lives. And those familiar with the work of Carl Jung and subsequently Joseph Campbell will recognize the hero myth as the unifying essence of almost all religions. Neurological research has shown how the regular practice of meditation, independent of the specific religious tradition of the meditator, can create long-term alterations in our brains. Nonetheless, these scattered breadcrumbs only beg the question of how these beliefs unlock such potent personal power that the course of a disease can be radically altered.

This is a question worthy of consideration, particularly today, when much of Christianity celebrates the birth of its central figure. And as I drove home from a family gathering last night, I could not ignore the beauty and tranquility exuded by the churches I passed, all decked out for their celebrations and lit with candles for their midnight services. There is a compelling power there, not just in Christianity, but in any religion as it expresses the majesty of its office in our affairs. From the miraculous birth of Jesus to the transcendental satori of Gautama Shakyamuni to the revelations of the cave-dwelling Muhammad, there is a common thread from which has emerged some of the most beautiful expressions of art, literature and music of which humans are capable.

To that I would add religion's ability to give us the power to manifest our ideal selves in the physical realm as well as the sphere of ideas. While I cannot explain it, I would be a fool to ignore it, though it is clearly not in my scope to harness it. That is more truly the realm of the priest, the roshi, the imam. As a doctor, I must remain ecumenical to best serve my patients.

To me, this day marks both a beginning and an end. It is the end of the work year for me, and over the next week of "vacation," I lay the foundations for beginning the new year. I am looking forward to the changes I hope to bring about, both personally and in my practice. And I know that this question, the role of spirituality in health, will be one which will invite me back to ponder its challenges throughout this year. I am looking forward to the conversation about to ensue.

And I am also, as always, incredibly thankful to my patients who continue to be my most influential teachers. Thank all of you for your trust in me, and thank you for permitting me to join you down the short segment of your path that we are traveling together. I hope my guidance has not led you astray, but assisted you to become more of who you want to be.

And to all of the readers of my blog, thank you for your attention and your feedback. You encourage me to continue these public musings and consider new topics and new approaches.

Happy Holidays to all! I look forward to seeing you in 2012.

Dr. Avery Jenkins is a chiropractic physician specializing in the treatment of people with chronic disorders. He can be reached at or by calling 860-567-5727.