Science, Medicine, and Unbelief (Friends and God)


“Friends and God” are personal reflections from a selection of Friends on how they define God.

“I believe; help my unbelief.” —Mark 9:24
“I believe in something that I do not yet understand.” —Sharman Apt Russell

These quotes have brought me as close to resolving what I believe about God—or the word “God”as I will come in my lifetime. At 92, I have been wrestling for most of my theologically aware life with what I believe about God. I first encountered the concept of a triune God in my Presbyterian Sunday school, but that didn’t satisfy. I now believe that Jesus was a man and therefore could not have been part of the trinity (I have avoided processing what the Holy Spirit means to me).

Cherry picking among the Gospels led me to Mark’s story of a father who believed his son was inhabited with an evil spirit. He turned to the Disciples and begged them to exorcise the evil presence. They were not able to do this, and they referred the father to Jesus, who had developed a reputation as a healer. We are told that Jesus commanded the evil spirit to come out of the boy, and it did (with much torment to the boy). This story poses a problem for me, as I hold a healthy respect for science and medicine and believe they pretty much eliminate the idea of evil spirits as the cause of illness.

There is comfort for those who hold to the belief that God created the world and all things in it, but I believe in evolution and that includes the growth of human knowledge from a belief in evil spirits to a belief in medical or psychiatric diagnoses.

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