Faith and Science

Divine Assistance For Healing’s Immanent Activity


Faith’s promotion of healing is a miracle until God reveals further understanding of human biological design. Then God shows healing is by immanent mechanisms His grace endows. God can assist in our immanence for healing by empowering humans to develop relationships with Him. Thereby, transcendence, through faith’s experiences of consciousness and information, directs psychophysiologic healing. Physiologic mechanisms involve messenger molecules acting on receptors at the cellular level for mind-body communications to initiate early gene expression for protein synthesis and stem cell activation, promoting healing and replacement of damaged cells. Genetic determinants of existing states can also be modified by mind-body communications to regulate healing. Existing states are determined by “software” God imprints in us, genetic information that we can consciously modify. For example, psychophysiologic cues can alter existing states of immune function at the cellular-genomic level to determine disease and healing. When such cues are manifestations of faith, healing that follows may be due to the placebo response. Beliefs in placebos being the “most effective medication known to science…” suggest that we neglect our God-assigned role as stewards of His gifts to creation. We squander resources to seek healing and longer lives from innovations of science rather than from trust in the Lord. Medical science, trusting in human ability, does not increase human life expectancy. Levels of financial support for health care do not correlate with longer and healthier lives. Having hope in the Lord includes trusting in Him to give meaning for what He does with our lives. Our call to stewardship is built on our faith and trust in the goodness of His creation.


The Bible describes numerous miracles, events that people cannot explain or understand, throughout both the Old and New Testaments. A miracle is defined as: a happening that seems to be against the known laws of nature or science, thought of as caused by God or a god. Miracles were commonly accepted when little was known about these laws. When God gives us understanding of miracles, of the marvels of His creative accomplishments, we claim distinction and glory for “discovering” His “Word,” the information underlying a miracle’s basis. The experiences God leads us through feeds all of our information. With this information supporting current understandings on nature and science, many people accept few if any events as miracles because they can be explained by “human” knowledge. Such people do not believe the Biblical miracles because their current knowledge proves impossibility for any miracles. But human knowledge is based on interpretations that are held to be truths.

His Word—Information for Miracles

The Fountain of Knowledge

            Human beings acquire wisdom and knowledge but the truth and reality they carry come only from the Lord: faith in Him is the beginning of knowledge (Pr 1:7). Faith in His Word—the source of all information—allows the Holy Spirit to reveal interpretation for feeding our knowledge.

            Unbelievers despise the wisdom that God has shown in revelations of His miracles. God’s Word tells us to respond differently:  “Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him: yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his miracles.” (Ps 105:1-2)

            God begins to reveal His miracles in Genesis 1 where it is described how God created the universe with His Word; each act of creation begins with “And God said,….” Later revelation by John tells us that everything created is by the Word of God:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn 1:1-2); and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”(Jn 1:14) All words contain information; the Word of God bears information for His creative acts. Words without information are empty. Creation gains information when God creates with His Word. When human experience discovers that information, its interpretation explains creation so that human knowledge suffices and miracles are no longer needed. But new information can only be interpreted as evidence for more astonishing miracles reflecting God’s design and purpose of the human body. All of creation’s miracles are dependent on relationships, in this case between each and every part of the human body.

Information Essential to Relationships

The most fundamental units of the universe are events, not matter or forces.1 Events develop from interaction of entities in their environment. There can be no relationships between any form of matter, living or inert, without information that can be passed through interactions. All of the universe’s entities are created for relationships with others and each entity is identified by its relationships, its exchanges of information, with all other creation, not by a description showing no relationships. God created everything, from subatomic particles to galaxies, with the ability for interaction, so that all have relationships. Interactions force responses by all involved, and for human beings interactions are essential for their lives to have meaning and significance.

Human beings, by creating events, have ability to interact in specific ways. People can interact with nonhuman entities. More importantly, humans are created to interact with themselves, with other humans, and with God. The Holy Spirit is important in the interaction with God. God sends the Holy Spirit to believers in order for Him to instruct them and keep their minds on God. During eternal life, interactions can continue with ourselves, others, and God.

God’s creation by His Word imparts information to both sustain and redeem us. When necessary we are sustained by healing. Healing is dependent on the immanent processes He provides. But healing is also determined by maintaining relationships with our Creator. This transcendent relationship is active when we believe in integrity for our immanent healing potential and when we believe that God is actively involved in our inherent healing abilities. This most important relationship with God is entirely dependent on faith—that His Information can assist our biological processes in beneficial ways. Reverence—the cardinal virtue—includes faith in the immanent mechanisms we have for healing.

Biblical Healings

            Narratives from ancient times document healing for humans that is dependent on their faith in God. One event during the time Moses was leading his people in the desert speaks about a miracle from God:

            Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. ….So Moses prayed for the people.  The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. (Nu 21: 6,8)

Strong faith in God counts this as one of His miracles (Figure 1). The New Testament describes many miracles performed by Jesus. Most involved healing of people and a few describe resurrection of individuals from death. These miracles were not possible without a transcendent relationship between God and His creation.

Figure 1.  van Dyck painting: Moses and the Serpent—seeing is believing and results in healing

Human “knowledge” does not accept reality for Biblical miracles. But current scientific knowledge helps us to understand and appreciate how we can now show the basis for “miracles” that heal the human body. God made this possible by creating human beings with the ability for all to know Him:

            For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

When humans dimly see, through the veil revealing scientific information, and understand what God has created, His invisible qualities are more clearly seen. Immanent mechanisms for healing to explain speedy and “miraculous” recoveries become more fully understood. Faith in healing, that we can choose, implements interaction of God’s assistance with our immanent biological healing processes.

His Transcendence—More information For Miracles

Life’s Immanent Healing Ability

            Human beings’ immanent healing mechanisms enable spontaneous recovery for most diseases or ailments. Sometimes this “self-cure” is triggered by an outside influence called a placebo, resulting in the placebo phenomenon.2 Often self-cure is not possible without such an outside influence. Placebo medication is an inert and ineffective substance believed by the user to be an effective drug. “A placebo effect is a change in a patient’s illness attributable to the symbolic import of a treatment rather than a specific pharmacologic or physiologic property.”3 A medical authority, recently quoted in the British Medical Journal, described placebos as the “most effective medication known to science, subjected to more clinical trials than any other medicament yet nearly always doing better than anticipated. The range of susceptible conditions appears to be limitless.”4 Over the centuries, medical treatments for many diseases were not failures. Their success may be explained by the conclusion: “medicine, until the most recent periods, has been merely a ‘placebo effect.’”5

            Healing successes are also documented following different nontraditional therapeutic approaches that are described as holistic, complementary, alternative and spiritual. Their successes result from placebo responses where therapy can change peoples’ beliefs—a mind-body therapy. No one who heals, by traditional or nontraditional means, ever attributes healing to a placebo response. Their healing powers are always claimed to be in the unique techniques or spiritual powers that the healers employ.

Vision for Healing

 The placebo phenomenon shows that a person’s beliefs and information generate expectancies on disease outcomes. Expectancies ranging from hope to despair act on the immanent healing processes. Positive expectancies are based on peoples’ experiences that they recover spontaneously from most illnesses. Hope is essential for healing and placebos give people a basis for hope. A placebo given with no other treatment is a “hope only” treatment. Placebos bring no healing to people without hope and mired in despair. God’s wisdom tells us that “Where there is no vision people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV)

Faith is essential for a placebo to be effective—faith in an external authority. Some Christians believe modern medicine’s dogma that only scientific knowledge, medical and surgical procedures, and drugs can heal. They decline anything resembling faith healing; they have no vision to seek the Lord’s assistance. They shun unusual non-traditional healing approaches and stay in the good graces of physicians who do not believe that mental events can direct physical events, that faith can “heal.” The placebo phenomenon embarrasses modern doctors, especially when it shows they have little control over healing processes. Admission that one cannot manage alone (giving up control) leads one to trust in the divine assistance that is available for our immanent healing processes.

Suffering’s cause is often unknown. When symptomatic drug therapy fails, diagnostic procedures are used to discover suffering’s cause, and sometimes such procedures provide no answers. In such cases, doctors frequently believe the cause to be an incurable disease. Diagnostic searches may continue until the doctor finds evidence to suggest cancer. Since most cancers are incurable, this evidence becomes a death sentence. Physicians are not embarrassed when no treatment can offer success—they can give up trying. Earlier death results in people who believe they should give up trying, that no hope can be justified. With oblivion the consequence of hopelessness, hope is always justified and sometimes leads to complete and spontaneous disappearance of cancer or some other “incurable” pathology. The Lord promises us that: “Anything is possible if a person believes.” (Mark 9:23) People who find no answers from medical practice and lack vision to seek the Lord’s help are likely to replace their anxiety with depression and anger, alienation, and repeated disappointment.

Believing is Seeing

Believers practice the genuine treatment of prayer for healing: “O Lord my God, I cried out to you for help, and you restored my health.” (Psalm 30:2) Unproven “genuine” treatments—which both doctors and patients truly believe in but are scientifically known to be ineffective (unproven)—can result in hope-based recoveries; yes, thought to be genuine treatments (believing) often have placebo effects (seeing). Data in table 1 show the degree of improvement with treatments thought to be genuine at the time but are now known to be ineffective.3 These data show that believing is seeing results in the placebo phenomenon

Table 1. Placebo Effects in Studies of Medical

 and Surgical Treatments for Pain

Condition or Disease

Treatment or Management

Percent Improved

Herpes simplex virus infection


85% good-excellent

Photodynamic inactivation

85-100% good-excellent

Organic solvents topically

83% good-excellent

Duodenal ulcers

Gastric freezing

98-100% marked-complete relief

65% good-excellent

Angina pectoris

Internal mammary artery ligation

63% significant improvement

Skin incision only

56% significant improvement

Angina pectoris

Internal mammary ligation

100% improvement

Skin incision only

100% improvement

Temporomandibular disorder

Sham tooth-grinding

64% total-near total remission

Lumbar disk disease

Negative surgical exploration

37% complete relief of sciatica

43% complete relief back pain

When Seeing is Believing

            Science and the world’s reasoning “power” tell us to believe in only what can be seen and proven. Belief in placebo responses no longer need embarrass anyone deeply committed to only what can be seen and proven. The placebo effect can now be “pictured.” Functional magnetic resonance imaging studies can capture differences in regional brain blood flow and activity before and during a placebo response.6 Studies were done during painful but harmless heat or electrical stimuli on the arm. After local application of what individuals were told to be an anti-pain cream, these stimuli resulted in decreased brain activity in pain-sensitive regions; pain sensation was reduced. Also, blood flow increased in brain regions where anticipation of pain would be initiated by heat or electrical stimuli; this increase reflects expectations for pain relief from the placebo.

            Another procedure likely to produce its effect by the placebo response, acupuncture, also reduces brain blood flow in functional magnetic resonance imaging studies.7 This is associated with response to treatment for relieving pain and managing addictions. For those who must “see to believe” these studies prove the placebo phenomenon.

Placebo versus Proven Genuine Treatment Effects

            Federal drug approval usually requires testing in controlled studies to compare a drug’s effectiveness with a placebo. In many studies the placebos are very effective. Placebos given to patients for depression are 59 percent as effective as tricyclic antidepressants, 62 percent as effective as lithium, and 30 to 50 percent as effective for other treatments.8 Psychotherapy, a standard treatment for many mental conditions is characterized as the ultimate placebo. 9 Data on schizophrenics indicate that the withdrawal of medication and substitution of a placebo is associated with a lower rate of relapse than the discontinuation of medication without providing a placebo. Similar responses follow the use of drugs to relieve pain.

            Information on a drug’s side effects given with a placebo in place of that drug results in a wide variety of side effects about which the patients receiving the placebo have been warned.

With no Hope People Perish

            Just as hopelessness compromises immanent healing mechanisms for resolution of untreated but curable problems that can resolve spontaneously, it also interferes with healing following medical and surgical management of curable diseases. People who believe that they will die during a surgical procedure are more likely to die than optimistic patients.10 Some surgeons refuse to perform surgery on patients with this fatalistic attitude. Hopelessness contributes to fatalism by also being a major determinant of depression. People afflicted with depression are 50 to 60 percent more likely to have nonfatal and fatal ischemic heart disease than people having no depression. Hopeless people anticipate a joyless existence.

             Pain is depressing and prolonged pain deepens depression to the point that all activity and thinking are impoverished—life becomes hopeless. Anxiety is also associated with pain and can alternate with depression. With depression, expectation for the worst is inevitable. With anxiety, a threatening future demands a response. Anxious patients’ obsession is that effective treatment can be found somewhere. Going from one doctor to another, however, often leads to mutual anger (with doctors), alienation and repeated disappointment. Following treatment failures, depression usually replaces anxiety. With any treatment likely to fail, hopelessness and despair prevail. Coping with pain fails when one’s attention is monopolized by fear, anxiety and depression. Medical science admits that: “Coping needs inspiration and inspired help to live with pain.”11   Immanent healing mechanisms need inspiration and help that are available from transcendent information.

Healing’s Immanent Activities

Faith is a human experience of consciousness, and information from this experience is transduced (transformed) in the brain (probably limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary system) to modulate gene expression for facilitating healing (Figure 2). The mechanisms include messenger molecules and their receptors that effect responses through the autonomic nervous system and neuroendocrine transmitters. At the cellular level, mind-body communications can initiate early gene expression for activating protein synthesis to promote healing.12 Genetic determinants of existing states can also be modified to regulate healing (neurotransmitters to signal healing rise and fall during the body’s normal basic activity cycles—activity in these cycles can change to meet the needs for healing).

Faith-healing is thus a psychophysiological healing. The healing process is determined by conscious mental events; healing is facilitated by an individual’s normal range of (immanent) abilities in response to challenges—the normal range of abilities is the Creator’s design for a comprehensive fitness. Faith in His design enables healing by the “entrainment of biological processes by psychosocial cues,” by the psychosocial cue of faith.13 In addition, changes in gene expressions can be directed by our “environment, behavior, consciousness, and lifestyle choices.” “Neither genes nor environment dominates development; rather there is a continuous interaction between genes and the environment.”14

Figure 2. Faith Facilitates Healing

Faith (human experience of consciousness)

Information from faith transduced in brain

Modulation of gene expression

Facilitation of healing

Biblical healing was often manifested quickly after genuine faith sought healing. These healing responses were miracles which science could not explain. Until recently, humans understood healing processes to be slow and determined entirely by our inherited “changeless” genome. Now science (as reflected by an NIH committee) knows that healing processes can begin rapidly and under the control of rapidly changing genetic influence. 14 What kind of gene expressions are possible, especially for believers whose environment is built on faith?

Immediate Early Gene Expression

            Gene changes can occur within minutes, through “immediate early gene expression,” in response to psychosocial clues and significant life events.15 Signals received from stimuli outside the body activate genes that code for formation of proteins which participate in maintenance of health and facilitation of healing processes. Proteins are the “informational and computational processor of life at the molecular level,” and most importantly in healing.16 Immediate early genes integrate mind and body to implement healing throughout the body. These genes are turned on and off in response to our conscious efforts—thereby faith can heal when they are on. 17  The transcendent Word provides the essential information (psychosocial clues) to create changes for optimizing function in our immanent healing processes. Jesus demonstrated that both His words and touch healed people. Current research shows that touch and verbal suggestion can initiate immediate-early-gene protein cascades to facilitate healing.18

Gene expression is also determined by states of behavior and consciousness such as waking, sleeping, dreaming, emotions, motivation, and stress.19 This state-related or state-dependent gene expression forms part of the “software” that God imprints in His created beings. This software is designed to be consciously modified at any time; God provides us with the ability to creatively adapt ourselves at the genomic-protein level. Adaptation involves dynamics of energy, information and structure at the molecular level.20 The states of behavior and consciousness influence immediate early gene expression that is initiated by psychosocial clues to promote early gene protein cascades for facilitating growth and healing and for maintaining health.

            Healing attributed to the placebo response may be due to activation of stem cells to replace damaged and dying cells with healthy ones.21 Stem cells can be found in most tissues of mature organisms. With injury damaging healthy cells, stem cells can receive molecular (psychogenomic) signals to differentiate and produce new healthy cells to replace those that are lost. These signals initiate immediate early gene expression in stem cells to generate proteins and growth factors for facilitating neurogenesis, and for differentiation and maturation of stem cells to form well-functioning tissues. Genuine belief or faith in healing is responsible for the placebo response on stem cells.


Molecular Mechanisms for Gene Activation

            A variety of extracellular stimuli activate immediate early genes.22 Activation can be initiated by neurotransmitters binding to membrane receptors, by membrane depolarization induced by neural transmission, and by changes in ion transport through membrane ion channels (Figure 3). 

Figure 3. Membrane Events Activating IEGs

Immediate Early Gene Expression

Psychosocial clues(faith) & significant life events

 Neurotransmitter      Ion             Membrane

        Binding          Exchange    Depolarization


cAMP Formation


Activation of Protein Kinase

This initiation results in intracellular cAMP formation which binds to and activates a protein kinase, a enzyme that regulates further activity acting on CREB (cAMP-response-element-binding protein) for its phosphorylation to produce a gene-transcription factor (Figure 4). In the brain this transcription factor binds to a critical Ca2+  response element (CRE) within the BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) gene to activate this gene’s transcription. Protein products of the BDNF gene function at synapses to control adaptive neuronal responses. They also are important for neuronal survival and plasticity, protection against stress, and neurogenesis. Many immediate early genes operate as transcriptural regulatory factors that activate the expression of other “late-response” genes.


Figure 4. Intracellular Events Producing IEGs

Immediate Early Gene Expression

Activation of Protein Kinase

CREB (cAMP-response-element-binding protein

CREB phosphorylation (gene-transcription factor)

Binding to critical Ca2+ response element (CRE) within BDNF gene

BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) gene transcription

Gene expression for neurogenesis—neural plasticity

Extracellular stimuli activating immediate early genes and BDNF mRNA(messenger RNA) are unlikely to have different membrane receptors for each stimulus. Thus, each stimulus possesses some properties to initiate membrane events. In addition, stimuli such as drugs may act at different steps in the intracellular biochemical processes to promote or reduce neurogenesis and protein synthesis for healing. Activation of BDNF expression may also follow a common pathway for differing means to treat depression such as the use of antidepressant drugs, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and electroconvulsive seizures.

The ultimate effects of immediate early genes are probably by “a series of immediate early genes, members of various families, all interacting with one another and with other second and third messengers to affect several transcriptural regulating sites and, thus altering gene expression.”23  Some immediate early genes probably dominate and control the outcome of multiple stimuli. Faith’s influence may or may not influence the outcome, especially in the presence of drugs that are stimulating immediate early gene activation.


Modulation of Gene Activation

            Different stimuli can activate different patterns of expression of immediate early genes in the same cell type and a specific stimulus can have different expressions on different cell types.24 Early gene activity is initiated by drugs that probably act by binding to membrane receptors. Drug effects can be to protect neuronal function by promoting BDNF activity, as with antidepressants, or to reduce neurogenesis by drugs of abuse (such as opiates).

            Stress and its important consequence, depression, can cause neuronal atrophy, cell death and decreased neurogenesis, especially in hippocampal neurons. Depression causing neural tissue atrophy and death reduces brain volume.25 This brain pathology is associated with decreased expression of BDNF and elevated levels of glucocorticoids (expected with stress). Antidepressant drugs reverse this pathology and prevent down-regulation of BDNF mRNA, thereby enhancing neurogenesis and preventing atrophy. Antidepressants can induce cell apoptosis (death), however, with prolonged or high drug dosage. 26  Stimuli up-regulating and down-regulating neurogenesis are listed in Table 2.


Table 2.   Neurogenesis



Enriched Environment





Drugs of Abuse-Opiates

Antidepressant Drugs


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Excessive Antidepressant Drugs


Early Genes Activate Late Genes

            Depression becomes a chronic and hopeless problem for many people. Furthermore, depression can be a family problem, affecting more than one member. Epidemiologic studies have led to the conclusion that “sensitization to stressors and episode sensitization occur and become encoded at the level of gene expression” 27 and maybe that genetic alteration can be passed on to future generations and put them at risk for depression. Drugs of abuse activate immediate early genes that lead to molecular changes responsible for addiction, changes which include expression of genes that can be lasting. 23


Psychosocial Cues and Immune Function

Psychosocial cues can affect immune function through activation of immediate early genes at the cellular-genomic level.18,28 Psychological stress, leading to depression and hopelessness, can down-regulate immediate early genes that are involved with activation of oncogenes promoting some cancers.18  Stress can also down regulate the transcription of the interleukin-2 receptor gene and interleukin-2 mRNA production. Reduced production of this messenger molecule reduces signals of white blood cells to attack pathogens and cancer cells. Psychosocial cues (such as faith) to optimize immune system function may explain the miracle of spontaneous remission for cancer. Such cues can also be used for amelioration of clinical signs in asthmatics, another disease of immune dysfunction.

Co-creating Ourselves

Immanent Training Ability

God created all biological life with “sufficient training,” with an immanence for life’s maintenance and for life’s restoration—healing. God creates human beings with a unique consciousness that is able to supervise “education of living substance,” thereby, giving them another ability for augmenting the immanent sufficient training. Consciousness gives humans the ability to know and understand—to have faith—that they can supervise the education of living cells for healing, but only through faith enabling transcendent assistance. With faith in God’s design, people are not alone in dealing with their needs for healing. “One might say, metaphorically, that consciousness is the tutor who supervises the education of the living substance, but leaves its pupil alone to deal with all those tasks for which it is already sufficiently trained.”29  “Highly motivated states of consciousness can turn on and focus gene expression, protein synthesis, neurotransmitters, and neurogenesis in our daily creative work of building a better brain.” 30 Faith is the great motivator of consciousness to drive these changes.

With the ability to educate living substance “we can co-create ourselves in cooperation with nature.”31 Our nature consists of human beings’ biological mechanisms which God designed. We can “co-create” by empoying what we can control—consciousness to freely determine our will. We do not co-create ourselves without faith that we can freely determine to choose. Non-human life does not have the consciousness to co-create. We co-create ourselves by becoming a “letter from Christ,…,written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”(2 Cor 3:3) Our faith encoded in genes by our co-creation marks us “with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance…”(Eph 1:13-14) Believers have encoded information for an eternal relationship with the Lord. Our co-creation ability enables us to seek transcendence, divine assistance, for promoting our immanent healing activity.

People with some medical problems can co-create themselves or exercise “mind over matter” by employing electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback or neurofeedback for healing.32  EEG biofeedback enables individuals to use information on characteristics of their brain waves (EEGs) to change their brain wave activity. Abnormal EEGs can be normalized by conscious effort to help problems such as listed in Table 3. This method for co-creation may show benefits because of its placebo effect. 5 

Table 3. Therapeutic applications for which neurofeedback has been effective



Attachment Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder

Autoimmune Dysfunctions

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Pain

Conduct Disorder



Sleep Disorders


Tourettes Syndrome

Where there is no Co-Creation

A deficiency of biological changes (events) that can be activated by co-creation to promote healing and build a “better” brain, is suggested to be associated with psychological depression. Psychologists believe that happiness and positive psychological attitudes are associated with optimal gene expression (activating co-creation) that leads to neurogenesis, healing, and well-being. But many psychologists do not accept human’s immanent ability to consciously co-create, and believe that “to understand hope and despair, we must seek an evolutionary explanation for the capacities for enjoyment and suffering, happiness and sadness.”33 Evolutionary explanations leave people with only pharmaceuticals to manipulate feelings. With evolutionary beliefs in the hopelessness of genes determining predispositions to such problems as generalized anxiety syndrome and depression, drug therapy becomes the only—the only management.

Psychologists themselves, however, tell us: “Psychologists have scant knowledge of what makes life worth living.”34 Thereby, drugs become the important management because of this belief that psychologists confess. On the other hand, believers know that joy, peace and gladness comes only to those with faith in the Lord.

Desire for Extreme Makeover

            We are dissatisfied with our bodies, are unhappy with our earthly bodies. Paul tells us: “But God gives it (us) a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.”(1 Cor 15:38) We have seeds to form bodies designed for the earth. Because humans consider their bodies imperfect they long for perfection. Science tells us we can prune and shape the seeds for the makeover of our bodies, to approach perfection. Seeking extreme makeover people want to avoid mortality. Each seed holds the promise of eternal life, however, and reshaping God’s design of the seed for our earthly body can only disappoint its bearer. As good stewards of God’s gifts, we thank Him for the seed He gives each one of us and we avoid temptations to reshape it. Each seed programs individuals to live a specific span of time on earth—we must accept His plans for the length of that span.

Americans are educated to believe that medical science enables people to live longer and healthier lives. Vast resources are devoted to achieving these promises but with no proven results. If that is the case, are Christians good stewards by spending increasing percentages of our resources to try to live longer and healthier? How long can we expect to live? We know that God says something about this:

The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Ps 90:10 

This passage was written when human average life expectancy was less than 30 years. The promise of life expectancy today is similar to that in the Psalms passage. Life expectancy a century ago was approximately 50 years and the dramatic increase since then is due to improvements and innovations not in medical sciences to diagnose and treat diseases but in public health and preventive medicine.35 Where peoples’ life expectancy remains short, contagious diseases represent the major cause.

Co-creation’s Purpose

            Human potentials for co-creation are not designed to provide a way for extreme makeover. Co-creation provides a way to change—for recovery and healing—so that humans can live a full and healthy life, for a length that enables time and efforts for fully using their God-given gifts and purpose.

Stewardship for Co-creation and Healing

Information from Science

            Biological scientists claim that the increasing body of research knowledge promises to greatly increase human life expectancy. As a result people believe in sophisticated technology and health care to increase their life expectancy. That increases financial commitments, especially for including everyone in the opportunity for the “best” medical care. Consequently, health care spending in the U.S.A. is 14.8 percent of the gross domestic product ( GDP) or nearly $6,000 per person annually (Figure 5).36  Health care spending is growing at 9.3 percent annually compared to the country's economic growth of 3.6 percent.

Figure 5

The United States spends twice as much on health care as any other developed country (Figure 6). What are the results of this spending?

Figure 6

Increased spending for health care does not increase life expectancy in the United States or any other country in the developed world (Figures 6 and 7). 37 Spending for health care in the United States is more than 15 times greater than Costa Rica with the result that life expectancy is the same for both. 35 Gross domestic product per capita and gross national product also do not affect life expectancy in these countries. Life expectancies are shorter in countries having low GDP and major infectious disease problems; they will dramatically increase when both these conditions change. Life expectancy remains low in countries having higher GDP and persisting problems with infectious diseases. Major increases in GDP do not increase life expectancies throughout the world when a plateau of 70 to 80 years is reached (Figure 7).38 United States ranks 34th in this figure showing life expectancies for countries worldwide (three-fourths of developed countries outrank America in life expectancy and infant mortality). How is the greatest per capita spending for health care able to result in an average life expectancy no better than this?

Figure 7

A recent Rand Corp. research study on health care reported that although Americans pay more for medical care, they receive the right treatment less than 60 percent of the time.39 The results were the same for cities with higher income levels, fewer uninsured residents, and more world-respected medical institutions than communities without these advantages. “No matter where you live, you are at risk for poor care.”39 Because most patients recover, this suggests that recovery was “spontaneous” and could not be attributed to the intervention of medical care. For those who do not recover, death is often the result of medical errors so that “more people die in a given year as a result of medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297), or AIDS (16,516).” 35   This study did not include deaths outside of hospitals—in doctor's offices, pharmacies, or out patient clinics—which would make the fatality rate even higher.

More than 100,000 people die annually due to overmedication and adverse reactions to prescription drugs.35 The number of drug deaths is surpassed only by heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Drugs, therefore, can be deadly. To what degree are they necessary and effective? “Many of the treatments the medical system provides are unnecessary…”35  Patients living in regions of the country with large numbers of medical specialists are treated more intensely with procedures and drugs than in regions with fewer numbers of specialists but have no greater life expectancy. Greater numbers of specialists with greater diagnostic and treatment technology discover more “pseudo-diseases” (problems with no effects on a person’s life expectancy), but which are often managed medically or surgically. 35

Doctors treating patients with mental problems, ranging from depression and addictions to schizophrenia and bi-polar disease with little hope for optimal subjective-well-being, are quick to prescribe an antidepressant drug. Depression affects one out of every eight adolescents and the drugs they are given are incriminated as the cause of many suicides in this age group.40  Depression leading to anxiety and despair is a leading problem in adults, and doctors are not reluctant to treated them; they don’t want their patients to feel bad. Antidepressant type drugs never cure anyone and may interfere with help from counseling.41

Heart attack patients are believed by most people to be best treated with procedures such as angioplasty and bypass surgery. But, “their value is by no means certain”—two-thirds of the procedures performed are deemed to be unnecessary.42 Heart attack patients in the United States undergo angioplasty and bypass procedures seven times more often than patients in Canada and Sweden, however, their death rates are virtually identical. In the United States some report that the outcome is the same for patients treated medically or surgically. Patients who are treated with drugs have a “much quicker recovery time and fewer risks of complications” than those treated with invasive procedures.42 What is the most important medical treatment? “For that matter, aspirin—a blood thinner—has done more to lower heart attack rates than either drugs or surgery.” 42 

            A substantial part of American medical expenditures is spent on treatment for back pain—more than 70 percent of adults suffer back pain at some time in their lives 43      

“Yet for all the costs, for all the hours spent in doctors’ offices and operating suites, for all the massage therapy and acupuncture and spinal manipulations, study after study is leading medical experts to ask what, if anything, is doing any good.” 43 Most of the time the pain goes away with or without medical treatment, prompting a professor of medicine to say: “Maybe you’re better off not going to a doctor.” 43

Most pain problems resolve spontaneously, regardless of treatment. “Nature” has reasons for a variety of unpleasant symptoms we suffer for our protection and which are essential to healing. In addition to pain they include vomiting, diarrhea, inappetance, fever, depression, etc. Rather than using the many drugs to relieve these signs we should remember: “Sometimes it really is good to keep on feeling bad.”44 Moreover, for those whose faith is in medical and surgical management, it is prudent to heed those who state: “…in most pain and research situations, nonspecific effects of treatment are underestimated, and patient improvement is likely regardless of treatment….It cannot be assumed that a treatment whose response rate is more than one third is better than placebo.” 3 Doctors take an oath to do no harm. Is that oath forgotten when they employ procedures and treatments that cause harm and may have no proven benefits?

Environment and social conditions play an overwhelming role in determining the prevalence of diseases and premature death. 35  A medical research study reports that 40 percent of all deaths are caused by behavior patterns that could be prevented. 35   Direct medical care services to individuals cost $1 trillion dollars annually but only 5 percent goes for programs to promote more healthy behavior.

God created us to be responsible stewards of His creation. We fail in being accountable when we believe that stewardship is mostly for our material wealth or possessions. We believe in many reasons for not distributing wealth equally to a nation’s citizens in order to provide health care for all. “Wealthy nations with low income equality, however, such as Sweden and Japan, have higher life expectancy than wealthy countries in which income is less evenly shared, such as the United States and Britain.” 35  

            The Psalmist told us how long we can live. Now science tells us that “healthy human cells are mortal because they can divide only a finite number of times, growing older each time they divide.”45 With aging a person’ cells lose telomeres, the DNA sequences found at the ends of each chromosome, which represent the biological aging timing mechanism or clock. As a person’s cells age they can no longer assist in maintaining and repairing human tissue.


Information from Transcendence?

            In creating us with His Word, God embedded information in our body proteins. We gained the indwelling of the Holy Spirit with faith in God and this insured more information so that His plans for us would be “written” in our hearts. This additional transcendental information enables the immanent information from our creation to participate in a co-creation that we are empowered to choose. Faith activates the co-creation and with it “anything is possible if a person believes.”46

Transcendence Directing Stewardship

            God leads us by assisting our immanent healing potential from His perspective. If we don’t follow Him we will have people seeking assistance from a secular scientific perspective. God gives us the responsibility for being stewards of His entire creation (Genesis 2). As His stewards we are entrusted with the management of everything He creates. This management must include insuring adequate health care for all. Everyone must be treated fairly and have equal access to procedures and managements that have proven merits and benefits. Management of His creation also includes education on how we can enhance our immanent healing abilities for responding to medical problems—on maintaining our bodies as holy temples. Most importantly, stewardship is built on trust in Him and the gifts He has given us to care for all of His creation.

Is Spending more responsible stewardship?

We are not responsible stewards by budgeting more money and a greater percentage of our GDP for health care. As a nation becomes wealthier it spends proportionately more on medical care.47 Approximately one-sixth of America’s gross domestic product is spent on health care and this percentage is increasing. Increased spending in the American health care system, however, does not increase life expectancy, improve peoples’ health, or provide adequate care for everyone. The dramatic increase in life expectancy over the last century from about 50 years to greater than 75 years for Americans is not due to improvements in medicine; medical improvements can claim no more than 15 percent of that increase. Changes in living and working conditions are the real reasons.35  There is a convincing consensus that margins for improvement in these conditions still exist. Christian stewardship must be to improve the living and working conditions that enable people to live out the number of years promised by the Lord in Ps 90:10. Increased spending for health care has little effect on these changing these conditions.

Increasing number of physicians-effects

            Health care costs are high when a population has too many physicians. With no advantages in having care from more and more specialized doctors, responsible stewardship can begin by having fewer doctors. Health care costs in Massachusetts are the world’s highest, are 30 percent above the national average and are higher than any other state. 48 Massachusetts has many more physicians per 1,000 residents than the nation as a whole. The quality of health care is not reduced with fewer physicians.

            Increasing emphasis on education

            Health care costs should be increased for programs to promote healthy behavior—truly conditions for optimal living. Doctors are not paid to educate patients on promoting healthy behavior or on preventing medical problems. Less than five percent of health care budgets is spent on this education.

            Preventive medicine for healthier living must have its highest priority on dietary recommendations to prevent and manage the problems of overweight and obesity (Figure 8 and Table 4). The estimated direct costs of obesity (defined as having a body mass index greater than 30) to healthcare in 1999 was 238 billion dollars which is over 20 percent of a trillion dollar a year spending for healthcare in the U.S.A.49 At this time the U.S.A. had the highest rate of adults considered to be overweight or obese (with 34% of adults being overweight and another 31% defined as obese).50 The Bible says little on peoples’ eating habits other than a few verses on gluttony. Christian leaders say virtually nothing on obesity problems and do little to help afflicted individuals. Excessive consumption of food concerns stewardship for both the individual consumer and the needy throughout the world. Christians need to face the question whether they should take leadership in attacking the overweight problems that despoil the holy temple and that magnify the consequences of their problems. Some may believe that these problems are ones to be solved by the secular world.

Americans are estimated to spend over $44 billion for programs to lose weight or manage obesity. People have been taught to believe that magical programs exist to solve their problems. They do not want to accept that our body weight is determined by the simple mathematics of calories in and calories out. Whatever we eat “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.” The amount of money spent on obesity-determine health problems ($238 billion) and the $44 billion for programs to lose weight represents more that 25 percent of our total healthcare spending. Coupled with dietary changes, stewardship must include recommendations for maintaining a consistent exercise program.

Figure 7. The risks for medical problems increase greatly for diseases in this graph. Not shown is many other diseases at greater risk in overweight people. Data from The Lewin Group.49

Table 4.  Heights And Weights That Determine Whether People Are Normal Weight Or Overweight. American Obesity Association categories51


Normal Weight



Morbidly Obese

4' 6"





4' 7"





4' 8"





4' 9"





4' 10"





4' 11"





5' 0"





5' 1"





5' 2"





5' 3"





5' 4"





5' 5"





5' 6"





5' 7"





5' 8"





5' 9"





5' 10"





5' 11"





6' 0"





6' 1"





6' 2"





6' 3"





6' 4"





6' 5"





6' 6"





6' 7"





6' 8"





Table 4. Categories of weights (normal, overweight, obese, morbidly obese) are derived from body mass indices [calculated BMI= 703 x weight in pounds divided by (height in inches)2]. Normal weight BMI=<25, overweight BMI=>25<30, obese BMI=>30<35, and morbid obesity BMI=>35.51

            The secular world has taken the lead in reducing addiction to harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs of abuse. Little is heard from the pulpit on helping people who are at risk for or have such addictions. Christian stewardship cannot ignore the tremendous cost to the health care system incurred by obesity, drugs, alcohol and tobacco. In the last century, many Christians led the work to improve living and working conditions—the real reason for increases in life expectancy. Now the country’s leaders think continued improvement that increases individuals’ standard of living will improve the health welfare of all. Increased discretionary income to spend, however, leads to temptations for greater addiction to food, alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

            Education must also include information on the amounts and effectiveness of spending on the elderly who consume about 38 percent of all health-care dollars, yet account for just 12.4 percent of the population. This cost is substantial for health care that can promise little extension of life for the elderly. Much of that cost is also spent on the last six months of a person’s life. Unrealistic promises to people facing that end cannot be made merely to maintain income for hospitals and health-care providers. Under these conditions Christian stewardship is not practiced by either providers of care or their recipients. It comes down to trusting in the Lord or trusting in unrealistic promises and outcomes that are associated with much of the procedures and health care for people in the last six months of their lives.

            The unrealistic rising expectations of people for promises of medicine to extend life expectancy and cure most diseases drives healthcare costs higher. Medicine has not been able to increase life expectancy and has not shown promise for curing the most common such as cancer and heart disease. Stewardship is wanting when a high percentage of our God-given resources are used to chase these promises.

            Christian stewardship leaves no one behind

            Responsible stewardship must include provisions for health care for the entire population. This need not be a part of wealth distribution but only equal access to necessary health care. This is essential to increasing a population’s life expectancy.

            Prescription drug abuse

            If it is true that a treatment’s response rate is better than one-third does not mean that it is better than a placebo, many drugs should not be so widely prescribed. Drug manufacturers are driven to develop new drugs that can be claimed to be “better” than any other to treat a specific medical condition. Newer drugs usually have activity that is essentially the same as ones currently used. The only differences are increases in potency and possibly fewer side effects. The potency of some older drugs can be increased by prescribing higher doses with little danger. The advantages of any newer drugs are usually marginal despite the claims made by their manufacturers. Costs for treating many medical problems are much less when prescribing generic forms of the drugs already available. Health care offerings can practice better stewardship by relying on generic drugs rather than the costly new drugs.

In addition to being of questionable value, any drug has undesirable side effects. Newly introduced drugs are almost always tested for short-term side effects but many drug manufacturers seldom know of their long-term side effects. More important are the side effects of drugs that pose a greater problem in older people. Persons 65 years or older make up less than 15 percent of the US population but account for nearly one third of prescription drug consumption. Drugs are handled differently in an older person than one who is younger than 65 years of age. This difference changes a drugs dosage but for many drugs no studies have been done to evaluate a therapeutic and safe dose for an older person. Recent studies report that 28 commonly used drugs have been deemed potentially inappropriate for use in elderly people because of adverse effects. These undesirable effects were of high severity for half the drugs and of low severity for the other half.52 Why are inappropriate drugs prescribed when “safer alternatives usually exist?”52 If a drug had value that could not be questioned there would be no need to develop a “better” one to replace it.

Drugs of abuse permanently alter gene expression—a long-term side effect.53 Can prescription drugs have similar effects? Do we genetically engineer ourselves with drugs? A pharmaceutical’s long-term effect may be due to genetic changes. If a drug has that potential, a patient is a better steward of one’s body by taking a placebo.

Drug manufacturers sometimes lose a market for a specific drug because studies show a lack of it being effective for a disease that it had been approved for. Rather than losing their investment in that product, the company’s scientists will sometimes make claims for its effective use in treating a different problem. Thereby, the drug can be marketed for use to treat a different disease.

            Alternate forms of therapy usually have no side effects and their use should be encouraged by care providers and supported by health care costs. Such therapy removes dependence on prescription drugs and the placebo effects alternative therapies provide can contribute to a genetically determined healing by assisting the immanent healing mechanisms.

            Technology—The High Priestess

            A notable achievement of the Twentieth Century was the triumph of technology. Developers of medical technology have reaped the highest honors and awards. Unfortunately, the use of these technologies in the United States has contributed little to increasing life expectancy. They cannot make claims for improving health care because the cost of some medical technologies excludes many people from any benefits they offer. Costly new medical technologies can also provide no better diagnostic answers than less costly established procedures. Advances in medical technology is one of several factors most responsible for driving healthcare costs higher.50 Responsible stewardship requires a commitment to judicious use of medical technologies.    

Social support—stewardship for relations

            Social support is essential for healing of many medical problems. Social support promotes health, making individuals less prone to disease, and lowers mortality rates.54 With abandonment of social support there can be little hope. Medicine cannot promise this hope because it is “explicitly tentative and probabilistic in its pronouncements.”55 Only faith—God’s gift to us—can offer hope for understanding, meaning and healing. Without social support “the self is a very poor site for finding meaning.”56 People cannot find meaning by relying on their instinctual nature that drives individuals to attain their choices, rights and fulfillment—the embodiment of complete autonomy.

            Without social support it becomes easy to practice despair, the “dominant text of our culture.”57 The power of despair grows from a failure in our self-sufficiency. Despair of any generation leads to depression which inevitably shortens life expectancy. Dependence on drugs to relieve despair has potential to co-create us genetically and interfere with the activities of faith and hope to heal us and promote a healthier and longer life. As stated earlier, the greater reliance of Americans on “life-saving” drugs has not increased their life expectancy.           

Incentives for stewardship

            For most people the promise of a longer and healthier life than the average citizen is not an effective incentive for stewardship that changes one’s living conditions. Financial incentives can be more immediate rewards that will prompt some people to change how they live.

            Universal health care funded by the state is mandated by countries in the developed world. The United States should provide free health care for all children and young adults until they reach 18 years of age. For all people older than 18 years of age, free medical care should also be provided, but with some incentives for those who live healthy lives. With obesity the greatest public health problem the incentives can begin with the goal to reduce its cost on the country’s health care system. To some degree the people who choose to not be good stewards of the health of their “holy temple” will pay more for the consequences of their unhealthy living.   The great incentive for stewardship is faith in the Lord—that He has given us immanent mechanisms for healing and He is always available to assist us through His transcendence that is always there for believers (Figure 9). “Is any of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil.” We are thereby instructed (James 5:14). Our stewardship is reflected by our trust in the Lord.

            In Genesis 1 God tells us that what He creates is good. The great goodness He creates in humans is not that we live on earth forever in paradise. That goodness lies in His promise to sustain us by the immanent healing mechanisms He creates in us and the transcendent assistance we can receive from Him (Figure 9).

Figure 9. Faith and trust in the Lord empowers human immanent healing activities and calls on God’s assistance

Immanent training ability and

Motivation by faith


Transcendent assistance

Education of living substance

Activates gene expression, protein synthesis

Neurotransmitters, neurogenesis

Empower immanent healing activity


Creation of Adam - "Everyman"

God created our immanent activities for healing, using His Word—conveying us information. He gives more information—His transcendence—to protect His creation.


© Copyright 2003

Paper presented at 2004 American Scientific Affiliation meeting at Trinity Western University, Langley, British Columbia, Canada


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34. Martin E. P. Seligman, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Positive Psychology An Introduction,” American Psychologist, 55, (January 2000, 5-14.
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36. Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Development, Milliman USA Health Cost Index, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
37. Data Source: OECD Health Data (Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

Data from: http://www.geographyiq.com/ranking/ranking_Life_expectancy_at_birth_dall.htm

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40. Elizabeth Shogren, “FDA sat on study linking pills to child suicide risk,” http://seattle times.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/………
41. Drugs can interact with membrane receptors and at the intracellular steps for IEG activation of faith-induced changes so faith and hope can be blocked from contributing to healing.
42. Collins Conner, “Quick Fixes for Heart May Not be Best Medicine,” http://www.sptimes.com/2004/04/04/news_pfWorldand nation/Quick_fixes_for_heart.shtml

43. Gina Kolata, “Healing a Bad Back Is Often an Effort in Painful Futility,”   http://wwwnytimes.com/2004/02/09national/09BACK.html.     Patients having more expensive MRI rather than radiographic imaging studies received more intensive treatment than those who were only radiographed, but the recovery was the same for each group.

44. Randolph Nesse, "What good is feeling bad?" The Sciences, (November 1991).

45. Jerry W. Shay,Aging and Cancer:  Are Telomeres and Telomerase the Connection?”  http://www.accessexcellence.org/LC/ST/st10bg.html

In contrast, almost all cancer cells are immortal and have thus overcome the normal cellular signals that prevent continued division.

46. Mark 9:23.

47. R. Mark Wilson, “Medical Care Expenditures and GDP Growth in OECD Nations” http:www.aabss.org/journal1999/f22Wilson.html

48. Alan Sager, Deborah Socolar, “The World’s Most Expensive Health Care” http://dcc2.bumc.bu.edu/hs/sager/Mass%20costs%2080%2098%20report.pdf

49. Data from The Lewin Group. http://www.lewin.com/Lewin_Publications/Uncategorized/Publications-8.htm

50. “Health Spending in Most OECD Countries Rises, with the U.S. far Outstripping all Others.”  http://www.oecd.org/documentprint/0,2744,en_2649_34631_31938380_1_1_1_1,00.html

51. Data from the American Obesity Association.  http:www.obesity.org/subs/fastfacts/Health_Effects.shtml

Other obesity-related medical conditions include: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, birth defects, cancers (breast, esophageal and gastric, colorectal, endometrial, renal cell), cardiovascular disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic venous insufficiency, daytime sleepiness, deep vein thrombosis, diabetes (type 2), end stage renal disease, gallbladder disease, gout, heat disorders, hypertension, impaired immune response, impaired respiratory function, infections following wounds, infertility, liver disease, low back pain, obstetric and gynecologic complications, pain, pancreatitis, sleep apnea, stroke, surgical complications, urinary stress incontinence, and a long list of other problems.

52. Lesley H. Curtis, Truls Ostbye, Veronica Sendersky, Steve Hutchison, Peter E. Dans, Alan Wright, Raymond Woosley, Kevin A. Schulman, “Inappropriate Prescribing for Elderly Americans in a Large Outpatient Population,” Arch Intern Med., 164, (2004), 1621-1625. This papers also cites a study where “the panel identified 35 drugs or classes of drugs inappropriate for use in elderly  persons with certain medical conditions. Michelle Howard, Lisa Dolovich, Janusz Kacsorowski, Connie Sellors, John Sellors, “Prescribing of potentially inappropriate medications to elderly people,” Family Practice, 21, (2004), 244-247.

53. Reinhard Grzanna, Roger M. Brown, “Introduction,” in Activation of Immediate Early Genes By Drugs of Abuse. eds. Reinhard Grzanna, Roger M. Brown.  NIDA Research Monograph 125, NIH Publication No. 93-3504, 1993.

54. Peter Salovey, Alexander J. Rothman, Jerush B. Detweiler, Wayne T. Steward, “Emotional States and Physical Health,”  American Psychologist, 55, (January 2000), 110-121.  

55. Christopher Peterson, “The Future of Optimism,” American Psychologist, 55, (January 2000), 44-54.  

56. David G. Myers, “The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People,” American Psychologist, 55, (January 2000), 56-65. Social support for followers of Jesus Christ is the assurance that He is always with them, He will never leave us even when we may feel that everyone has abandoned us. We can never feel lonely with that assurance.

57. Walter Brueggemann, “A Text That Redescribes,” Theology Today, 58, (January 2002), 526-540.