T.C.D. Miscellany Trinity Term 2009: Volume 116, Issue 3
Contents: Soul Editorial ......................................................................... 1 On the Origin of Darwin’s Beliefs ................................. 2 Flesh and Spirit, Body and Soul .................................... 5 Identify Yourself ............................................................ 6 Evolutionism vs Creationism ......................................... 8 Is There a Soul? ........................................................... 10 What is Faith? .............................................................. 12 From Denial to Discovery ........................................... 14
LE B ! AN OU ON D ITI D D
Do forg n’t che et to c k phy o sica ut you l he the r T.C other alth at .D.M end isce of llan y.
Editor - Jean Acheson Assistant Editors - Conor James McKinney, Jean Morley Layout and Design - Jean Acheson, Conor James McKinney Front Cover Illustrations - Elaine Jennings Contributors - Thomas Broe, Nina Brown, Dr. Miguel DeArce, Paddy Duffy, Rev. Julian Hamilton, Patricia Hanna, Andre Madaleno, Seán Maguire, Olivia Russell, Dr. David Sowby, Eimhin Walsh, Michael Wynne This publication is partially funded by a grant from the DU Publications Committee. The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor. All serious complaints should be addressed to: The Editor, T.C.D. Miscellany, House 6, Trinity College, Dublin 2. Appeals may be directed to the Press Council of Ireland. T.C.D. Miscellany is a full participating member of the Press Council of Ireland and supports the Office of the Press Ombudsman. This scheme, in addition to defending the freedom of the press, offers readers a quick, fair and free method of dealing with complaints that they may have in relation to articles that appear on these pages. To contact the Office of the Press Ombudsman, go to www.pressombudsman.ie.
Editorial Well, the term and year are almost over! The comings and goings of campus life take their toll on us all, and it is usual at this time of year to look forward to a well-earned summer break. Before we leave, however, T.C.D. Miscellany offers the reader its final take on the Campanile’s statues (having looked at Law and Science in our previous two issues). In this Double Edition, Medicine and Divinity are combined into a Body and Soul theme. It couldn’t come at a more appropriate time, as students struggle to prepare for exams, some prepare themselves to leave Trinity, and still others may be wondering what they’re doing here at all. It’s no bad thing to take some time to reflect on how we’re doing and where we think we’re going. Considering that, since the previous issue, it has been officially declared that the Irish economy has gone to hell in a handcart, Miscellany offers these humble pages as a respite from the clatter and chatter of … ssshhh…. the R word. Our contributors this time turn their magnifying glass onto the usual diverse range of topics. Matters of fact clash with matters of faith; questions of identity keep cropping up, whether it’s the identity of the dead or how we perceive ourselves; the Trinity of today is chronicled along with the Trinity of the twentieth and nineteenth centuries. It seems that concerns of the soul and matters of the body produce dilemmas that are far from resolvable. Yet out of such a reflective theme, there are a number of contributions on very material subjects: the Irish health service, the life of Charles Darwin, the medical profession. I hope that something within this issue will tickle your fancy. Before ending, I’d like to express my gratitude to a number of people for their help this year: Conor James McKinney and Jean Morley, the assistant editors; Elaine Jennings, the artiste extraordinaire: James O’Connor and Joyce Acheson; the Publications Committee (particularly Martin McKenna for his patience and technical help); all the contributors; and, finally, the readers - I offer you all a very sincere thank you. And I wish the very best of luck to Conor who’ll be taking over as editor next year; I’ve no doubt his creativity and dedication will ensure some top-class issues will be making their way on campus soon. Finally, considering there was no space to place the usual quote on the back cover, I leave you here to chew over the words of a former Trinity student and one who knew the value and pain of stirring the soul and testing the body, Oscar Wilde: “Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.” Let’s take heed, and neglect neither.
Jean Acheson T.C.D. Miscellany Editor
On the Origin of Darwin’s Beliefs Dr. Miguel DeArce from the Genetics Department looks closer at the qualifications we must give to “Darwinism”, Darwin’s own personal contradictions and his deep religious doubts.
ames Moore, one of the definitive biographers of Charles Darwin, has observed that “Darwinism” is a very equivocal term. First came the Darwinism of the Victorians and much later the Darwinism that we speak of today (after one hundred and fifty years of “The Origin of Species” and many technical a n d
conceptual scientific innovations along the way). Within the Victorian age, there is Darwin’s own doctrine of the origin of species through natural selection of the fittest variants, and the way i t was presented by his most articulate friends in England, T. H. Huxley, Joseph Dalton Hooker and John Tyndall.
and a craftsman of the spoken and written word. Tyndall, an Irishman, extended Darwinism to his own discipline, physics, and single-handedly rewrote the history of Western thought, bypassing Aristotle and Plato and making it hinge
on the materialism of Lucretius and Epicurus. Paradoxically, Tyndall was also a genuine poet of nature and an aesthete who refused to accept a fully materialist explanation of man.
on the Principle of Population”, which he took as an authoritative and explanatory cornerstone of his theory. However, it has been accepted for decades that the comparison of the arithmetic progression of resources with the geometric progression of population numbers, although providing the subject with the aura of an exact science, and showing the limited carrying capacity of natural resources, is a simplistic and inappropriate model of the natural situation.
An obvious argument against Malthus is that at his time a great deal of the planet had not been explored yet, never mind exploited agriculturally. Huxley blew hot and cold at The “eureka” moment of Darwin’s In addition, man is ingenious different times about natural meditations, the main inspiration in creating technology, and can selection, but was at all times of his theory, came to him when often find multiple solutions a good example of a humanist reading Thomas Malthus’ “Essay to the management of nature. 2
Soul These powers were not factored in to the model. It is a curious fact that the obsolescence of Malthusianism has not affected the status of Darwinism, which so heavily and confidently relied on it. If Darwinism is made synonymous with “evolution”, then in France, with the work of Buffon, Cuvier and Lamarck, there was Darwinism before Darwin. In Germany, Haeckel produced a local brand of “Darwinismus” that Darwin and his closer group,
“To explain man we are left only with matter.” especially Huxley, loved to hate. And if to the current scientific knowledge of nature we add an eye for media promotion and very militant and gratuitous antireligion views, then we have
or his repeated statements against cruelty to animals, while he In a way, this unsatisfactory state himself was an excellent shot and of affairs with regard to Darwinism disposed of innumerable animals can be understood as a result of the inner life of the man himself “A God that punishes and his temperament. Darwin was inwardly contradictory, the innocent would be always seeking respectability so bad that it could not and status, while at the same exist.” time seeking to overturn the then current social order by replacing religion by science, and priests by scientists, as moral guides. in all corners of the the globe, not just to foster the advancement of To give examples of Darwin’s science but to make soup. The inner contradictions, we could general demeanour of his vast mention his warnings about correspondence indicates that he first cousin marriages, where he was a very decent man who made said that they should be avoided extreme efforts to avoid giving because they are more likely to offence in relatively small matters, produce children with congenital but who did not mind subverting defects, while his cherished the established order from its roots. wife Emma, who gave him ten children, was his first cousin; But Darwin’s contradictions ran deeper. From 1836 to 1858 he kept his thoughts on the origin
The Darwins: love at first cousin.
could be found wanting and so condemned to eternal damnation by God was so abhorrent to him that he kept calling this the “damnable doctrine”, one that could not possibly be true, and hence neither was God true.
is to him is molecules assembled by natural forces, with a past that runs deep into the animal kingdom, and with a blank future.
In spite of confronting suffering frequently, the idea of the value of suffering, as Emma Darwin so If to this we add that in The Origin well knew, was apparently beyond he had proved to his satisfaction the capacity of her husband to comprehend. His thought was earthbound by assiduous “He kept calling training over many years. His this the ‘damnable problem was not his science, but his poorly informed religion.
A page from one of Darwin’s notebooks.
of species to himself in secret notebooks, sharing them only with a reduced coterie of friends, feeling all the while as someone who was hiding a terrible crime. His ideas on the subject could spell heresy among the respectable Cambridge elite of that time, and premature publication would risk losing him status and opportunities. His ideas created conflict with his wife, who, genuinely religious as she was, thought them to be dangerous for his eternal salvation. It is perhaps this internal and constant familial contradiction, borne in secret, that triggered or worsened his physical health and made of him a recluse at his home in Kent. Darwin found cause for rejecting his religion formally at two points in his personal history, and he did so with bitterness. One was the death of his father, the other the death of his tenyear-old daughter. The mere possibility that such dear persons 4
doctrine’, that could not possibly be true, hence neither was God true.”
that the idea of special creation of species could not be sustained by scientific arguments, we have the three elements of Darwin’s doctrinal difficulties, passed on, perhaps unknowingly, to his most absolute followers: he thought that the idea of species deriving from other species contradicted the Bible and natural philosophy; that a God that punishes the innocent would be so bad that it could not exist (an “inverted Anselm” as it were); and that to explain man we are left only with matter - all there
In this much Darwin was, understandably, wrong, as we can see with the benefit of one hundred and fifty years of thinking partly triggered by him. He thought that his advanced idea of species was religious heresy, while it wasn’t. The idea of the eternal damnation of the innocent that so much troubled him with regard to the death of his dear father and daughter is alien to most religions. And the idea of an all-material man is opposed by the ordinary experience of common man as we go through life. More than an agnostic, as he called himself, he appears at times to have been willingly ignorant in matters of religion.
“We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universes, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.” - Charles Darwin.
Flesh and Spirit, Body and Soul Flesh and Spirit, Body and Soul Eimhin Walsh, Auditor of the College Theological Society, tackles the dualism that characterises our human experiences, and argues for the importance of the soul as the principle source of energy within us.
n the early modern era the church shunned the practice of anatomy, driving the great “Renaissance men” to become grave robbers so that they might investigate that fundamental reality which we all share – the body. The church feared that the quest for understanding the flesh would lead to a neglect of the spirit. The spiritual realm, however, is just as real for us as the physical.
anatomists and the church rested upon the question of the soul. The anatomists could not locate some sort of physical organ or gland which, in itself, constituted a soul. The search for a physical soul overlooked a vital distinction in what we mean by soul. The soul is not something which we have, it is something which we are. Our soul is the energy within us, the flame which sustains the fire burning within us. The Christian theology, since earliest anatomists and physiologists times, has been immersed in the questions of body-soul dualism. “The soul is what The antagonism between spirit binds together all and flesh has not disappeared. We are still plagued by the questions the aspects of our raised by our experience of the physical being.” spiritual. For example, think of a chocolate bar. Imagine its shape, packaging, texture and taste. The show the exquisite complex of idea of the chocolate bar is as real tissues and organs which combine to us as an actual chocolate bar. in the systems which keep us However, the idea does not exist alive. A body without energy is physically; it exists in some other lifeless, and it will decay. We can dimension of existence. To deny only call ourselves alive as long the reality of this realm is to deny a as there is a soul in our body. fundamental aspect of our human identity. Thus our existence is The soul is what binds together one which is intricately bound all the aspects of our physical up in the experience of both being. The soul is the unity the spiritual and the physical. and interconnectedness of the systems which keep us alive. The conflict between the Ronald Rolheiser, the Christian
spiritual guru, likens the soul to glue. By binding together each of the aspects of our biology our bodies are given purpose. The purpose is the production of a living organism. After death the chemicals which composed our bodies go their own way, this lack of interconnectedness and purposeful direction is incapable of life. Our life is contingent on the unity of purpose provided by our soul. The soul, as a principle of energy and a principle of integration, at its core has a principle of chaos and a principle of order. Rolheiser says that striking the balance between order and chaos, energy and integration, is a process of “creative tension”. “Energy and integration, passion and chastity, fire and water are forever fighting each other, each having its own legitimate concerns for our health. Small wonder”, he concludes, “that living is not a simple task”. What we do with our soul is our spirituality. Like it or not everyone has a soul, and everyone has a spirituality. Our inability to see it is insufficient reason to deny its existence – remember the chocolate bar! 5
Y F I T N E D F I L E S R U YO The College’s Methodist chaplain, Rev. Julian Hamilton, gets to the bottom of identity and how it is assembled and abused in a modern celebrity-driven culture.
Am I a role model for young women? Of course I am! Not. Don’t be stupid, I live in a totally vain and artificial world, my life is so un-ordinary that there is no way I should be a role model. Families, friends, those are the people who should be role models, not me.”
that surround identity in a modern western celebrityfuelled pop culture. I’m glad she understands something of the irony she sings about in The Fear.
Lily will not change the world or end the current economic global crisis with this song – but she So said Lilly Allen on Channel will implant a notion in the minds 4 on Sunday, 15th March last. of teenage girls that automatic Lily, thankfully and surprisingly, celebrity riches come with a high seems to grasp the incongruities price: invasion of privacy; a life
critiqued at every turn; so many masks being worn that the real face becomes unrecognisable. Janis Joplin said, “You better not compromise yourself, it’s all you’ve got.” Well, modern western celebrity-fuelled culture constantly produces compromise – that’s what you get when so much of your life is screened, produced, scripted and choreographed. Reality gets dimmed.
I want to be rich and I want lots of money I don’t care about clever I don’t care about funny I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless ‘Cuz everyone knows that’s how you get famous I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore And I am a weapon of massive consumption and it’s not my fault it’s how I’m programmed to f u n c t i o n . - The Fear
Soul I hate it when I hear someone look at a model in a magazine and mutter, “God I wish I looked like that”. I often reply, “So do they”. The models we see in our magazines are more often that not touched up and buffeted (like my car) to look better. With the right clothes, photographer, and lighting I think even I could look alright in a photo shoot. Maybe. Confusion identity
appropriate. It is conservative fundamentalist language – which I don’t use very often, but I really am a sinner saved by grace. That’s my happiest identity.
remembering my fallibility – or all our fallibilities. But equally, and more importantly, the Christian Gospel tells us, in effect, “Who cares? God has loved you with an everlasting love. Deal with it”. And so I choose to deal with it. I choose to live in the knowledge that my best screw-ups are never
nothing n e w ; people h a v e a l w a y s struggled to find their place in this world. But t h e frivolous mixing, matching, melding and moulding of identities is new. Never before has this world been able to create, recreate and recreate again multiple personalities, ambitions, appearances and lifestyles of those caught in a media-soaked circus.
final. The c a l l of Love on my soul will not always win out – but it will always tug me toward that perfect Love. A Why? love that will embrace, welcome, affirm and Because it reminds me of who cajole all that is good, all that is I am and who I can be. I am worthy and all that wills us toward not and never will be perfect. I each other and toward God. regularly take this world and all the precious gifts within it (its I am not a product of my people, its treasures, its air, land surroundings, wherever or and water) for granted and abuse whatever they may be. I am not I now realise I am turning them. I am not the friend I should a product of media-saturated into a grumpy old man. be. Or the son I should be. I do designs for my future. I am a not recycle enough, give enough middle-aged minister who every But it would seem that my to the poor or invite people to day tries to remember that his baseline as a minister of the feast in my home enough. And identity is not in who he is, but Christian church is never more there is something very healthy in in who God is. And God is love. 7
Evolution vs Creationism: Fad, Fury or Fact? Seán Maguire examines the clash between religious and scientific bodies of knowledge to ascertain what is provable and what is providential.
he issue of evolution and religion has always been a touchy subject. Particularly in the last ten years, we have seen a battle rage across the world between religious groups and the scientific community. The religious groups have often asked to be treated with respect and be allowed voice their views and beliefs, and who can blame them? Scientists such as Richard Dawkins patronise and even attack religious believers. With his far-reaching influence through books and TV shows, Dawkins has painted an unrepresentative view of all atheists as haughty, arrogant and downright rude. Such a reputation only serves to raise the backs of those he attacks. One could argue that many of his targets are not so much procreationism as anti-Dawkins.
Scientific usage and common speech usage have quite different meanings. For instance, many denounce Darwin’s discoveries as unsubstantiated, due to the description of “Darwin’s Theory of Evolution” given to his book “On the Origin of Species”. In fact, “theory” and “law” are often used interchangeably throughout the scientific community, simply due to convention, not definition. In Darwin’s case, he was proposing a
“People have a natural desire to fill in the gaps.” theory which got published before it had been conclusively proven.
Furthermore, theory in a scientific Many scientists are also practising context has a rather different believers, who see no conflict between their profession and their religious beliefs. In fact, many of the early scientific pioneers were members of the clergy, such as Fr. Georges Lemaître, a Belgian Catholic priest, who proposed the now universally accepted Big Bang Theory. Part of the problem for religiousscientific arguments is the lack of clear definition of what exactly is meant by “theory”. 8
meaning to the common meaning of the term. A scientific hypothesis has to endure much testing before it can be classified a theory, and it is only after a sufficient amount of proof has been obtained that it can be awarded the title of law. Because of the long time this may take, the establishment becomes accustomed to the use of “theory”. It’s not often mentioned in religious discourse, but it is a little known fact that Darwin himself did not actually discover evolution. It had been observed long before Darwin that species changed over time in adaptation to their environment, and evolution had already been accepted as fact among the scientific community by his time. However, they did not know the mechanism of this change. It was through his proposals of natural selection that science began to understand it.
Darwin could not have predicted the next stage in the evolution of man.
Soul experimental predictability, and reproducibility for anything to be accepted. Thus, religious beliefs cannot be categorised as science due to their failure to fulfil these basic criteria. By extension, scientific fact cannot be categorised as religious belief; science and religion each have their place. The key problem facing us here is can we prove something does not exist. This is the basis of Bertrand Russell’s famous “Teapot in the Sky” argument. No, of course we can’t, and this is one of the In short, his observations their beliefs alongside scientific reasons why religion still has such followed the laws of genetic fact? It seems the answer lies a profound effect in the world variation long before genes were within the question of how they today. People have a natural desire discovered. The concept of being born genetically advantageous or not was the key distinction from “If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there other suggestions that species is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, adapted post-birth, and passed nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I on advantageous traits as they were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed developed them throughout life. However, despite some religious leaders’ lack of scientific knowledge, modern society could also be blamed for allowing religious spokespeople too much leeway. The Ulster Museum in Belfast has recently been criticised for not including a “Genesis I Room” in its plans for refurbishment. Interest groups have touted this move as unfair, as the new museum will have a significant exhibition area based around Darwin and Evolution. That said, a church situated near to the museum held its own Darwin celebrations on his 200th birthday (February 12th, 2009). Make of that what you will.
even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.” - Philospoher Bertrand Russell in 1952.
plan to present these ideas. Many religious groups go the whole way, demanding equal scientific validity to their beliefs as to that of the scientific establishment. Regardless of who is right, by definition, this is simply not But do religious groups really possible. Science demands a have the right to be able to exhibit high level of proof, consistent
to fill in the gaps - and religion is perfect for that. Religious faith and belief is statistically impossible on the scale we see today. Dropped into the middle of nowhere with no external influences, one is not going to discover any particular religion all by ourselves. One just takes what others say and agrees... 9
Is there a Soul? Medical student Paddy Duffy provides an answer through a physical examination of our bodies.
t was believed for a long time, and until surprisingly recently, that the mind, body and soul were all separate entities which made up human beings. The mind was the seat of our intellect, the soul of our humanity, and the body viewed as a much baser sort of thing. Susceptible to aging, disease, and ultimately death, many cultures viewed the body as a place where the mind and soul dwelt for a certain time, but which were not bound by it. Most cultures established myths about our relationship with the world around us that emphasised the timeless nature of our souls, as a means of elevating humanity above other living things, as well as making sense of the often harsh reality of life. Today we know that there is no separation of body and mind. All our thoughts, ideas and dreams are the result of unbelievably complex spatial arrangements of huge numbers of neurons and synapses in our brains. Our brains consist of around 100 billion neurons (nerves), each with up to 10,000 connections to other neurons in complex circuits and feedback loops, with many other types of cells maintaining and modulating their spatial configuration. The potential 10
number of possible connections any other animal. The integration is literally astronomical. of the different areas and functions of our brains is what Different areas of our brain makes us obstinately human. have different tasks, such as interpreting visual stimuli or Yet the functions of the mind understanding language, and are perhaps somewhat easier to there is extensive communication define - problem-solving, spatial between the areas. Our ability awareness, thought etc - than those to reflect, and perform what of the soul. People may say there may be called “higher functions” is something “spiritual” about lies mainly at the front of our the soul, something indefinable brain, which is proportionally and personal, something far larger in humans than it is in sacred. But what can we make
Will understanding the mechanics of the brain help us to understand ourselves?
Soul of the idea of a soul in light of a soul, or are somewhat spiritual. current knowledge? Can such But our souls don’t exist in the same a thing be said to truly exist? way our brains do. They are not real things constantly informing One of the reasons, perhaps, that us of the world around us, and people believe there is a thing called indeed within us. We know an a soul is that to think of ourselves awful lot about the brain and are as merely “flesh and blood” is learning more at an accelerated rate. One thing for certain is “Biological processes that the few inches between our ears holds the most complex don’t seem to thing we have encountered in the known universe. How else could do justice to our human life be so rich, so diverse?
experience of what it is to exist, to be human.” unpalatable to most. Biological processes don’t seem to do justice to our experience of what it is to exist, to be human. Nor, in fact, do purely mental and intellectual ones. There is an emotional and personal dimension to human life, and we have thus demarcated our own part of that as “soul”. I therefore view the soul as a social construction which looks to explain certain types of human feelings and experiences. Most of us would not nowadays subscribe to a religious dogma but if asked would probably affirm that we have
neurotransmitters and such can tell us all about what it means to be human. We have so many modes of expression - art, music, literature, drama - that can speak
“What can we make of the idea of a soul in light of current knowledge?”
to us in a way that seems hard to define, and enrich our lives in a We could attribute our uniqueness way not easy to explain. But what to some mystical thing, like a we do need to realise is that our soul, but that doesn’t really tell us ability to be creative, and to reflect anything. In studying our brain, on and enjoy that creativity, is our minds, our behaviour, we a direct result of the biological can learn a lot about who we are, processes underlying our being. and perhaps more importantly, why we are the way we are. We So we must exercise care in can never escape the fact that discussing the soul. It is no longer we are “merely” flesh and blood, apt to think of it as a mystical that our biology is the total sum entity, a distinct part of us that of our being, but this isn’t a bad has independent existence. We thing. We are human because need to re-interpret the soul and of our biology, not in spite of it. avoid making vague assertions about it. Rather than regress Of course it isn’t desirable to into superstitious and closedtake too reductionist a view of minded ways of thinking, we humanity. It would be foolish should embrace what science to say that information about has to tell us about ourselves.
T.C.D. Miscellany recognises the many questions readers may have about the soul, and what it means if we have one. Having taken an online quiz, Miscellany was surprised to discover it has “a sorrowful soul”. Find out more at: http://www.quizilla.com/quizzes/100300/what-type-of-soul-do-you-have Curiosity piqued, Miscellany decided to explore its soul further. In another highly scientific quiz, it emerged that the colour of this magazine’s soul is white, “the calmest and purest of all souls”. Now that’s more like it. Care to compare yourself? Go to: http://quizfarm.com/quizzes/new/MiriKiri/color-ofyour-soul-quiz/
What is Faith? Seán Maguire weighs up why we follow religion. Along the way, he looks at our propensity to accept the status quo, the contemporary increase in atheism and the advantages of religion to the isolated and the sick.
Have faith.” Do we really know However, history has taught us what that means? Is it possible? that just because something is widely accepted does not make it Belief is a very funny thing. Take true. But people flock to conform something simple. Go back to or follow a significant or powerful the Middle Ages and proclaim figure even when they may have that you believe the world to their doubts. On a large scale, be round. Chances are, you’d this leads to whole groups of probably be burnt at the stake society following nonsense for as a heretic. Fast forward to the no better reason than “everyone present day. Proclaim the same else can’t be wrong” or they and the best response you’d get grew up knowing no alternatives. would probably be something along the lines of, “Well done! “It’s a statistical Work that out all by yourself?” Everyone takes that for granted today, along with such things as radiation, electricity, and the solar system. These were once the preserve of dreams and witchcraft. But whilst there may be an abundance of proof out there for these phenomena, most do not actively seek it out. Why not? Because these things are generally accepted by society and thus “must be right”. 12
can be clearly demonstrated with population studies of the religious views of parents and their children. Population studies have shown that whatever religion you’re born into, that is the religion you’re more than likely going to stick with - because everyone else around you believes it. Over time, you grow up and this belief becomes second nature.
People who have grown up in this environment with ardent beliefs are often now said to have “a impossibility that strong faith”. But is it really faith? up to a third of the Do they really all believe in their religion? No, of course not. It’s a world’s population statistical impossibility that up to a third of the world’s population can completely can completely adhere to a set list adhere to a set list of highly specific beliefs. When it’s virtually impossible for all of highly specific members of a committee to want beliefs.” all the exact same things, why is it possible for so many more One might argue that this is the people to claim true faith in the basis of religious following. This teachings of a single religion?
This has been further demonstrated in the recent explosion in the numbers of atheists in the West and the huge drop-off in Mass attendance, particularly by the under-thirties. One could say that this is just another form of herd behaviour, as seen in religion, but is it just a coincidence that this has happened at the same time that a new widespread acceptance of minorities has emerged? Racism, secret homosexuality, media censorship. All these things and more were once societal norms. But now, especially in the last fifty years, it has become more and more acceptable to be different, and holding views against the grain of society is no longer criminal or taboo. We’re still a long way off yet, but we’ve made excellent progress. Because of this newly developed freedom of thought without fear of reprimand, atheism has flourished and it’s not because everyone has suddenly experienced simultaneous epiphanies! Many have always harboured these feelings of disagreement but it had always been taboo to disagree or
“Holding views against the grain of society is no longer criminal or taboo.”
“Those who have a “strong religious conviction” tend to live longer than those who do not.”
even question their birth religion. In the medical field, this is demonstrated all the time. One That said, fear of rejection and often hears of grievously ill patients persecution for disagreeing with who “fight” their illness and this religion is not the only reason can have a vast effect on their people keep quiet. One of the prognosis and survivability. While main reasons why so many still not fully understood, there is people, the elderly in particular, no doubt that we can influence our are such good liturgical attendees own mortality simply by thinking is the great sense of inclusion, positively, and with a desire solidarity and social contact to do more with our lives. The religious services give them. sense of purpose in religion and Statistically those who have a desire to be there for our families “strong religious conviction” tend thus have very similar effects. to live longer than those who do not. Many might argue that this This also demonstrates one of the is due to divine intervention. reasons why religion has survived That may or may not be true, so long: it’s evolutionarily but it has been shown that a advantageous. This increased strong sense of purpose in life has survivability means that families significant psychological effects. and groups of society with strong religious convictions will tend to live longer than their atheist and pessimistic counterparts. Naturally, a longer lifespan means more opportunity to procreate. Religion and blind faith have evolved over time to become a beneficial force in society. As social creatures, we crave the interaction and approval of those around us. Therefore we often sacrifice our true opinions and beliefs and follow the crowd - for fear of isolation and disapproval. 13
From Denial to Discovery Michael Wynne looks at how a lifelong “pilgrimage of reason” eventually led a famous philosophical atheist to embrace the reality of a Divine Mind.
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters - Goya (1799)
Reason has to win” is the last, portentous line of Russian Yevgeny Zamyatin’s influential 1920s dystopian novel We. On the most immediate level it amounts to the protagonist’s horrifying “affirmation” of the “happy” salvation he is assured since he has just been cured of the affliction of a soul (that is, his imagination) by agreeing to have a lobotomy; this means he can now go on as a fully functional cog in OneState, the regimental totalitarian machinesociety of which he is part.
which proposes that all future generations of a given twentysixth century community will be programmed so that they will know nothing other than the most de-individualised ultraconformity. Still, that word reason, taken in its widest meaning, “Reason, taken in its does inevitably set up powerful – both sinister and widest meaning, does resonances positive. In its immediate (very inevitably set up bleak) context, the reader may reminded of the protagonist’s powerful resonances be earlier logic-drunk assertion of – both sinister and his feeling that he has “conquered the old God”, but also in a positive.” But it may not be stretching broader philosophical domain the things too far to read a gleam lives of the Numbers, as the word “reason” may carry striking of hope offered in the sentiment proles of OneState are termed. connotations of the divine (as that reason must triumph – an indeed it does in Zamyatin’s satire, infinitely less mutilated form of It might seem incongruous to though in a savagely distorted reason, that is to say, than that construe anything affirmative positivist sense that cuts out any which is mindlessly referred to from the close of a novel application to a theist reality). 14
by the novel’s protagonist, and one that, moreover, incorporates all those human features (love, dreams, independentmindedness) that are in dire peril of being long forgotten in the “divinely rational and precise”
All of this ties in with the possibility that a solid argument may be made out that the concept of reason always has an infinitely broader reach than many a professional thinker w o u l d grant it, once it is considered scientifically as well as in purely human and imaginative terms – and some would say these different reflective approaches to the issue not only can but must complement one another, so that none becomes impoverished of meaning. One who, within the last two years, has publicly made this very claim in a short, marvellously readable book entitled There Is a God (written in collaboration with Roy Abraham Varghese) is British professor, Anthony Flew, evidence of God’s existence is “In debates about producible. Indeed, one o f Flew’s earlier books was titled whether or not The Presumption of Atheism, and there is a God, the in it he insisted that in debates about whether or not there is a burden of proof God, the burden of proof must lie must lie strictly with strictly with believers. He stresses in the latest book, however, that believers.” this stance was more to do with professional consciousness of “procedural principle” than who originally acquired fame any particular “prejudicial for his argument that atheism assumption” on his part. must be the presumed attitude (of philosophers) until proper Be that as it may, Flew has noted
that he was a confirmed atheist and mortalist (one who rejects the idea of an afterlife) before he had turned twenty-three, well over half a century previously. But even early on what distinguished him from fellow-atheist intellectuals was his tendency to present atheism, in philosophical terms, as a methodology rather than a conclusion, as well as his unorthodox challenge to the prevailing logical positivist position that maintained religious statements such as “God exists” were unverifiable and therefore meaningless; rather, he argued, believers have a responsibility to make clear how such statements may be interpreted and understood on arational basis. And it is his own decadeslong consistency in adhering to the Socratic command that the philosopher “must follow the argument wherever it leads” that has brought Flew, on what he describes as his “pilgrimage of reason” (and not of faith, significantly), from an extended and highly noble phase of exploring the problem of the Divine as a non-believer, to his eventual, remarkable conclusion that life and reproduction not only originate in a Supreme Source or Being, but that this Being possesses the traditional Divine attributes (originally formulated by Aristotle) of omnipotence, omniscience, indivisibility (oneness), immateriality, perfect goodness and necessary existence. 15
Flew, an atheist philospher, and Einstein, a Jewish physicist, both came to the same conclusion on the existence of a God.
According to Flew’s new belief, what he has come to see as the “evidence of [God in] nature” has three facets or dimensions underlined by science: nature’s law-abiding character; the arising from non-living matter of intelligent, goal-driven beings; the very existence of nature – that is, all that is physical. Simply speaking, these are the three areas of scientific inquiry that, rigorously followed, finally compelled Flew to share Einstein’s view that the most serious pursuit of science, via the study of nature and its laws, leads to a profound religious sense – specifically, a sense of what Einstein himself referred to as “the grandeur of reason incarnate” throughout the universe. As a leader of twentieth-century science at its highest, Einstein stated not only that he understood how “science degenerates into an uninspired procedure” when there is a lack of trust in the rational nature of reality – in other words, a 16
reality that has its ultimate source in what he described as a superior reasoning force – but also that he appreciated that there must be a meaningful marriage between science and something that, while not susceptible to empirical examination, nonetheless carries
“The most serious pursuit of science, via the study of nature and its laws, leads to a profound religious sense.” the deepest value for us as human beings. This something Einstein expressed as our “metaphysical needs”, a phrase that, when applied to ordinary believers, stands for the emotional drive for faith in a personal God, but which for the likes of Flew we might translate as the “rational theism” to which
he was conducted by his decadeslong reflective wrangling with religious and theological thinkers. When examined with a particular cast of mind, then, we might be persuaded that developing a marvellously functional, manyfaceted faculty of reason just might be the key to apprehending the Divine Intelligence. Indeed, Divinity being the logical conclusion of reasoning practised at its highest constitutes the dominant theme of Flew’s extraordinary book. It comes at a time when one-dimensional scientific thinking and a general tendency to “reason” in a way that is mostly devoid of any sense of mystery or of the Divine (the “uninspired procedure” Einstein warned against) go unquestioned in a manner that often seems to subtly foreshadow the kind of dehumanising tyranny so disturbingly imagined in Zamyatin’s soulless OneState.
“…a strange dynasty beyond the blood, every succession wills on the gift; a current skips from fingertip to tip along life-giving lines, as once, suddenly, thumbing through a treasury we find ourselves, stumble on forerunners who forefather us…” - Michael O’Siadhail.
the galvanic method. A medical lose the doctor who had rescued stimulant was better than leeching family members from illness and and starvation of the patient, so he fever over the years, including sometimes prescribed a treatment their mother. In 1837, for example known as a hot Toddy, a mixture he wrote: “…my mother has been of white cinnamon power, sugar very ill – one of my brother’s [sic] syrup, brandy and hot water has been in fever, very alarmingly - although in moderate doses! ill – these invalids are now thank Dr. E. H. Reynolds is currently God better – and my brother researching his contribution to from London has been here for neurology, neuroscience and the last week, with his new wife, epilepsy and gave a lecture whom I have been lionising as it sponsored by Brainwave, the was her first visit to Ireland...” Irish Epilepsy Association, in College earlier this year, to mark James himself died in 1869, but the bi-centenary of his birth. had accomplished much in Trinity College, and elsewhere, including the development of a new cataloguing system in the library for the use of students. He pushed forward the careful reading of Scripture and the writing of Irish history to take into account the scientific method, and helped correct many false interpretations of the prophetic books of the Bible. The brothers shared a In the medical history of the family, the male line was prone to sudden and fatal hemorrhage and Robert died in 1860 at the age of fifty-one, in the midst of a demanding private practice, and a medical, surgical, publishing and research career. James went into mourning, as told in his letters, and it seemed a hard blow to
practical wisdom and thought for others that enabled them to make many improvements for those who followed, and which are now taken for granted. These achievements in Divinity and Medicine from the brothers Todd enliven and empower us today. Despite their losses and family concerns, they left things better for others than they found them and crossed and re-crossed the gap between science and religion, later stereotyped as impossible to bridge. Perhaps we will begin to measure the contribution of the Victorians of Trinity College more accurately in terms of their thoughts and actions.
Patricia Hanna is conducting doctoral research on the life of James Henthorn Todd, and would welcome comments at email@example.com
Robert Bentley Todd, a famous doctor and medical researcher in his day.
The topic of prophecy interested him and he delivered a controversial series of lectures about the interpretation of the books of Daniel, St. John and Revelation. Prophecy was debated at both a popular and learned level and had been a subject of opinion and discussion since medieval times. There was talk in Ireland by religious people of a millennial apocalypse, as doom swept the country in the wake of revolution and economic downturn. Todd’s skill lay in keeping a balance between the intention and setting of the authors of the Scriptures and the current situation; he refused to give way to panic. He also began to interpret in Ireland the many controversial tracts printed by the Tractarians at Oxford by men like John Henry Newman, Edward Bouverie Pusey, Hugh James Rose, Hurrell Froude, William Palmer and others. They protested at what they saw as
Body State authorisation care and the diagnosis of disease. of the stripping of the Anglican alters He was one of the first to for secular gain. understand the science of energy and what he termed nervous Great change came polarity, as he researched the from another direction electrical forces or currents however, due to transmitted by the nervous system the developments from the brain to the limbs. He of science and the scientific method. “Along the way, he The increasing use of the empirical became a pioneer of method, starting with medical research.” the gathering of facts and moving from fact to theory, and the began to understand that seizures extension of the natural of the brain, such as produced sciences all surged in epilepsy, were due to forceful forward with much surges in the brain, or nervous intellectual excitement. James electricity. The resting stage of felt the excitement and sought to the seizure was, he concluded, not embrace it in his study and teaching harmful and would not become a of Divinity and Irish History. permanent state of paralysis; his discovery subsequently became Meanwhile, Robert went to known as Todd’s paralysis. Oxford University to finish his medical studies, began a career in He studied with Michael Faraday London to develop a large private and Luigi Galvani and wrote practice, was appointed lecturer notes about patients treated with in King’s College medical training school, and went on to found a large teaching hospital, King’s College Hospital, London. Along the way, he became a pioneer of medical research, and his lectures and case-notes make for vivid and inspiring reading for all who are interested in the ways in which the patient, the teaching hospital and research A modern version of the eponymous Hot Toddy. can dovetail together to improve patient 15
Divinity and Medicine at Trinity: the story of James Henthorn and Robert Bentley Todd The history of Trinity College is undoubtedly a rich one. Here, Patricia Hanna shares some of her findings with the Miscellany readership in a story about a remarkable pair of brothers who passed through this campus two centuries ago.
here is a very interesting story contained in the archives of the Early Manuscript Reading Room. It concerns the lives of two brothers, James Henthorn Todd, born in 1805, and his brother Robert Bentley Todd, born in 1809. They were both undergraduates in Trinity and went on to make many contributions to the study of Medicine and Divinity during their lives.
a pleasant town house on Kildare Street. There were thirteen other brothers and sisters including one set of twins, all members of the Church of Ireland. There is a handsome marble bust of their father, Charles Hawkes Todd, President of Anatomy and Surgery, in the Royal College of Surgeons. He died suddenly at an early age in 1826, leaving the
They studied in an era of intense â€œThey studied in an interest in the sciences and era of intense interest research, from the 1830s to the 1860s. Robert was born in the in the sciences and same year as Charles Darwin, research.â€? Abraham Lincoln, William Gladstone, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Eliza Bentley Todd, their mother, was descended eldest son James to care for and from the Oliver Goldsmith provide for the rest of the family. family, and their father and grandfather were medical men. James took a B.A. in science and intended to study medicine The two brothers lived for a time at in Trinity, but the early death of
his father meant he took a job giving grinds (or grinder as it was known in Trinity) and the money from this private tuition helped to keep the family in education. He was qualified to teach in mathematics, the sciences and the arts and choose to continue his study of languages, particularly Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Latin and Old, middle and spoken Irish. He began to develop an interest in translation and to study the great Irish manuscripts in the Long Room Library, donated by James Ussher in 1661. He loved the library and worked there in addition to all his other duties for the rest of his life. He became a Junior Fellow in 1831 not long after Bartholomew Lloyd became Provost and began some gentle reforms of the College. Ordained a priest in the Church of Ireland, he also became a teacher of Divinity to the undergraduates in the College.
at the University of Texas and author of a myriad of books, reviews and articles on death and longevity, has been following a population of subjects in Texas since 1992, and his results are hard to argue with. Those who
“Could we ever live in a world where we are prescribed religion, or more accurately, spirituality?” never attend religious services have twice the risk of dying over the next eight years as people who attend once a week. People who fall somewhere between no churchgoing and weekly churchgoing also fall somewhere in between in terms of mortality. In the second case, Neal Krause, a sociologist and public health expert at the University of Michigan, has tried to quantify some of those more amorphous variables in a longitudinal study of 1,500 people that he has been conducting since 1997. He has focused particularly on how regular churchgoers react to economic downturns as well as to the stresses and health woes that go along with them. Not surprisingly, he has found that a parishioner’s health improves when they receive social support from their church. He has also found that those people who give as well as receive help enjoy even better health than those who only receive it - a pillar of religious belief if ever there was one. What is more, he has also discovered that those who maintain a sense of positive thanks for what is going well in their lives have a
Body reduced incidence of depression. and the type of treatment that hospitals choose to provide. When penicillin was discovered in 1928 it was labelled a “miracle Almost half of the articles, cure”. Since then, in relatively few supposedly written by decades, medical drug production independent scientists, published has skyrocketed, earning billions, in journals are in reality written helping millions, and has changed by writers working for agencies the way we face and understand that receive huge sums from drug illness and disease. Medical drugs companies to their products. are now seen as the normative Reputed doctors are also paid means of treatment in Western large sums to put their names to medicine. Therefore research the papers whilst the ghostwriter and money are pumped into the remains anonymous. Could this business, leaving other potential corrupt means of promoting new means of treatment unexplored. drugs be blocking research into other forms of potential cure? I have two points of particular contention with this lucrative I am by no means condemning business. One is the payment of medical drugs when they are put doctors by drug firms to prescribe to good use by doctors whose their particular drug. The New prime interest is the health of York Times revealed in 2007 that their patient. All I am asking is two of the world’s largest drug that we remain sceptical about companies were paying hundreds of millions of dollars to doctors “Medical drugs are every year in return for giving now seen as the their patients anemia medicines. Consequently the medicines were normative means of prescribed in excess and caused many health complications. Could treatment in Western these payouts not be channeled medicine.” more ethically towards research into other therapies that are these relatively new and powerful potentially beneficial to our health? medicines. Neither am I saying that positive human will, so often manifested in religious adherence, could ever be a complete cure for ill health, but since we know that there is no universal “magic cure” for illness, surely we must remain open-minded and critical when it comes to discussing and optimising our health? If more concise, reliable research were carried out into this spiritual healing phenomenon and the force of the human mind, I am convinced that it would yield some fascinating results. My second point of contention is “ghostwriting”. This is again because, being funded by businesses looking for profit, it mars proper ethical research into health. The Observer revealed in December 2003 that hundreds of articles in medical journals that claimed to be written by academics or doctors were actually compiled by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies. These journals have a massive influence over the drugs that doctors choose to prescribe
Prescribe Some Positive Vibes Would that prescription make us healthier? Nina Brown looks at evidence in favour of positive religious energy and also examines how we get manipulated by the conventional drugs industry.
ince this issue takes a look at the two proud institutions of Divinity and Medicine in one fell swoop, it seems relevant to look at where they intertwine. An obvious place to start in this witch-hunt could be the controversial “miracle”. Could someone possibly heal and be healed from disease by some kind of elusive religious force? “Absolutely not” would be the predictable response of many a modern medic. In this article I would like to proffer a tentative argument against this reply, looking at how positive religious energy might be
affecting people across the world drugs and tonics administered and at the role that the multi- for all our modern ailments. billion dollar pharmaceutical industry plays in the form and Like drugs, this positive energy quality of medical treatment. seems to work sometimes with more strength, sometimes with Call it suspect, brush it aside, say less, sometimes not at all. It is it is ludicrous, but what comes unpredictable, unfathomable to light from extensive research at times –for example, it can be is concrete evidence that a type passed from a strong, healthy of medicine exists that one could person onto someone who is weak. label “spiritual force” or, with a Above all, research into it offers suspect and sceptical curl of the no immediate monetary profit. lip, “energy healing”. Perhaps it could better be understood as Could we ever live in a world the simple positivity and drive of where we are prescribed religion, the human spirit in all its glory, or more accurately, spirituality? a phenomenon that is working Perhaps half an hour’s positive away simultaneously with the meditation or sitting still and breathing for a headache or, like a strong dose of vitamin C for a cold, could we be prescribed fast or enthusiastic prayers for a tummy upset or a runny nose? Divinity is perhaps the ultimate means that connects mind and body and uses the untapped and under-researched power of the mind as a force for change. I want to look at two case studies into this phenomenon to present just a corner of a vast jigsaw puzzle of “spiritual medicine” whose pieces are yet to be fitted together.
Would attendance at our College chapel improve our health?
Firstly, social demographer Robert Hummer, currently a Professor
Doctor and Minister: the end of the affair? Can medicine and religion co-exist? In a reprisal of some of the Science vs Religion themes explored in our last issue, Paddy Duffy explores their compatibility.
edicine is probably unique amongst the sciences these days as it is the only one still informed by religious opinion, albeit begrudgingly. It is not too hard to see why - medicine throws up many ethical issues that are so close to home, and a great deal of hospitals were founded by, and continue to be affiliated with, religious orders. Often, this is a harmless enough alliance, but itâ€™s becoming clear that neither can co-exist logically without fundamentally compromising their aims and beliefs. The last fifty or so years have seen an unbelievable improvement in the provision of services for patients. Dangerous and lifethreatening conditions can now be treated easily. Our picture of the human body and how it works has changed dramatically, and this has informed how we treat patients, from research to the work of GPs. This new knowledge can bring great benefits, but this power brings responsibility. Ethical issues are constantly arising in both practice and research - take for example the use of embryonic stem cells in research for curing such conditions as Parkinsonâ€™s disease, or the allotment of funding for various departments. Tough
say, well-defined moral position such as Catholicism, will add weight to ethical argumentation. On the contrary: what organised religion does is impose boundaries on ethical debate which cannot be overstepped, thereby debasing the value of reasonable dialogue. The boundaries within which the Catholic church operates makes much topical debate essentially meaningless - contraception, always no; abortion, always no; stem cell therapy, always no. Within such a rigid framework it is difficult - I would say near impossible to appreciate the many facets of the ethical dilemmas which consistently crop up in medicine. While the Church retains social importance it will of course influence public opinion for better decisions need or worse. This is unavoidable. to be made, and However, it is imperative that u n s u r p r i s i n g l y government and medical councils religious institutions are not swayed by the power want to have their say. of religious institutions in the provision of patient care. This has proven to be disastrous in the past (the Mother and Child Scheme furore, contraception laws) and should be snuffed out at present (embryonic stem cell research/ therapy). I am sure that medicine and religion will continue with their uneasy alliance for some time, in this country at least, but that doesnâ€™t mean they both deserve an equal say in medical matters.
The problem here is that religion is informed by dogma, which is by definition inflexible, and in my opinion of dubious basis. People may think this to be relatively harmless, but when these dogmas begin to interfere with appropriate and useful treatment, it quickly becomes a serious moral issue. People also seem to think that coming from a strong, that is to
Medical Memories Dr. David Sowby, who studied at Trinity in the 1940s, looks back on some of the characters of his med student days.
I wasn’t quite eighteen when The Bront endured it for a while I entered Trinity for the pre- and then could stand it no longer. medical year, in the autumn of He threw open the window and 1944. During that year we had roared out: “Stop that infernal lectures and practicals in physics, noise, you fool.” There was chemistry, zoology and botany. a pause while he studied the The lecturer in physics was the offender below before shouting at eminent Nobel Prize winner, him: “And you look like a fool.” E.T.S. Walton. He was a very dry lecturer; after lunch his droning Botany Dick taught me how Northern voice sent many off to distinguish between the into the land of metaphysics. two main types of buttercup Nevertheless, he gave us a firm growing in Ireland — very basis of physics. Incidentally, useful for impressing a girl Walton was also my Tutor, though you’ve brought out into the I hardly ever went near him countryside. The trick is to look when I had a problem. Instead, I at the sepals; they turn down if consulted the man I’d originally it’s the bulbous type, and curl wanted as a Tutor, Mr. La Touche upwards if it’s the type with roots. Godfrey, who always seemed to know a way round the regulations. The professor of anatomy was one of the Jamieson brothers, and from his accent you knew he came We were taught Zoology and Botany by two singular characters, Professor Bronte Gatenby, known as The Bront, and Professor Henry Horatio Dixon - alias Botany Dick. The Bront was a tall, stooped man, and very shy. I used to see him creeping round the college, always next to a wall as if needing its protection from some unspeakable horror. He could be irascible; once, while he was lecturing, and holding on to a blind-cord for security, someone was revving up a motor bike in the Parade Ground behind the Zoology Building.
“His droning Northern voice sent many off into the land of metaphysics.” from Edinburgh. His brother was the author of the dissection manual we used. The Prof used to cruise around to see how we were getting along and would put his finger on the book saying: “I taught that faylo everything he ever knew about anatomy.” Most of the time he sat in a small office
off the dissection room, and left his assistant, Dr. Inkster, aided by a few demonstrators - students from the year ahead - to deal with us. One day the Prof emerged from his office just in time to see a huge lump of fat sailing through the air. It had been despatched by one of the more boisterous ruggerplaying students as a greeting to a pal at the other end of the room. The Prof immediately delivered the stinging edict: “I will not tolerate layvity in the praysence of the dade.” There were several medical students from Africa - one from South Africa and the others from West Africa. Professor Jamieson came upon one of the latter dissecting rather more energetically than he would have liked in that sanctified atmosphere. The Prof gave him a real ticking-off, starting with: “Damn your black hide.” The South African was a Boer, quite a decent chap but utterly intolerant of blacks. On almost the first day of dissection he spotted one of the West Africans at the next table and muttered: “If he came as close as that to me in Sarth Effrica I’d take a sjambok to him.” http://www.medicine.tcd.ie/tercentenary/alumni/
While the HSE was busying credited pharmacists itself hiring people it must have with saving almost forgotten about acute hospital beds, because there are 11,660 four million visits acute beds in public hospitals to GPs and more which is almost identical to 1990 levels, when the state had 11,766 than 500,000 visits acute beds. Admittedly the number to emergency of private beds has increased but this is no recompense for departments.” people without private health insurance. In 2005 the number more responsibility in areas of acute hospital beds here was such as screening for diabetes, 2.8 per 1,000 of population, management of chronic diseases below the 3.9 OECD average. and independent prescribing. Whether the public are willing to Ultimately, the amount of money accept these traditionally doctorspent won’t deliver services and in some cases nurse-provided unless we revise the delivery services from their pharmacist is of these services, have a long- uncertain. Maybe the HSE could term strategy and start adopting help by running a campaign to best policy on issues of health promote the role of the pharmacist management. It can’t be stressed in the provision of primary care. enough that the greater the role health professionals can play in I’m afraid there is little hope primary care the less money it will of that. With our government cost to run our health service and currently running the largest the greater will be the health of the budget deficit in the EU, they have nation. For this reason an extended been forced to prioritise in these role for community pharmacists - difficult times. Having spent €51 often forgotten in health policy million on spin doctors since 2005 - seems a logical conclusion. to perpetuate the illusion that all is well in our health services this good work can’t be hindered and must be continued. Somehow I have a feeling the cost of these spin doctors over the next four years will increase at a rate well above even medical inflation.
So while primary care appears to be under-resourced, what is happening in our hospitals? Health employment increased by 64% from 1997 to 2007 (from which point there has been a jobs freeze) to give today’s figure of around 111,000. The HSE has recently begun a programme
of redundancies for surplus administrative employees whom one would imagine are thick on the ground. Between the aforementioned years the numbers employed in administration and management grew by 104%. In the same ten-year period health spending increased five-fold to €14.8 billion. The cost of medical manpower in Ireland is greatly hindering value for money with consultants’ annual incomes 50% higher than in France and 80% higher than in Germany.
GP training posts to compensate for the 70 GPs retiring annually and for the expansion of primary care. In a bid to stabilise GP numbers the HSE is recruiting GPs from across the water in the UK - already, 30% of our doctors are trained abroad. It also aims to provide an additional 120 trainee places over four years and to make it easier for hospital doctors to complete GP training. The latter move simply sees a redeployment of staff and no new entries to the system.
“There are 11,660 acute beds in public hospitals which is almost identical to 1990 levels, when the state had 11,766 acute beds.”
emergency departments in that year. They may be largely forgotten by the “decision makers” at the Department of Health but they are clearly having an impact. The average Irish person makes 23 visits a year to pharmacies, making them ideally placed to shoulder
“A PricewaterhouseCoopers report, commissioned by the Irish Pharmacy Union in 2007
A PricewaterhouseCoopers report, commissioned by the Irish Pharmacy Union in 2007, credited pharmacists with saving almost four million visits to GPs and more than 500,000 visits to
Our Beleaguered Health Service Thomas Broe examines the administration and funding of healthcare in Ireland, and concludes that it’s barely enough to keep body and soul together.
ur beleaguered health service is often a target for opposition deputies and patients’ rights groups, and rightly so, as peoples’ lives are at stake. Whenever pressure falls on this government to justify its decisions it always smothers us with details on spending. Somehow if you throw enough money at a problem it will apparently go away. Well, I’m afraid even the illusionist David Blaine, for any money offered to him, couldn’t hide the problems within this country’s health service.
spending is strongly age related. In terms of GNP our health spending is similar to France, which is appalling when one considers the figures. Ireland has a much younger population, with just 11% over 65 compared to 18% in France. By 2036 the percentage of the population over 65 will have peaked at 25%. It doesn’t take Carol Vorderman to
“It doesn’t take Carol Vorderman to tell us that unless we
In February of last year the start seeing value for then Minister of State for Older money in the health People, Máire Hoctor, TD said the following during Private service we can expect Members’ Business in the Dail: a major healthcare “Total health spending [between 1999 and 2004] accounted for… crisis.” about 8.5% of GNP. The relevant GNP measure is very close to the tell us that unless we start seeing OECD average of 8.9% and this value for money in the health is without any adjustment for our service we can expect a major generally younger age profile. In healthcare crisis similar to the terms of health spending per capita, one America is experiencing at Ireland spent 2,596 US dollars… the moment. Medical inflation in 2004. This is over the OECD is twice the rate of inflation and average of 2,550 US dollars.” by 2017 American spending on health will be 20% of GDP. Ouch! Do not underestimate the importance of our younger age Two-thirds of medical emergencies profile. As the economist Marc have problems related to chronic Coleman has pointed out, health illness and use 40% of all beds.
Chronic diseases include asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. By 2015 5.6% of the population, or nearly 200,000 people, will have diabetes (this includes diagnosed and undiagnosed). Current estimates put diabetes-related spending at 10% of the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) budget. A survey conducted from 19992000, involving 701 diabetes patients attending four diabetes centres, found that 48% of costs relating to diabetes Type 2 were because of hospitalisations that were preventable. So, ideally, our state’s long-term diabetes strategy would involve more resources being put into prevention and management in primary care which could potentially save the money incurred due to hospitalisations and improve peoples’ quality of life. So what’s so difficult about treating the patients in the community in primary care centres? There just simply isn’t the manpower or the protocols in place. Ireland has 2.9 physicians per 1,000 of population, compared to an OECD average of 3.1. More worrying still are regional variations. For instance, the North East of the country has 1 GP for every 2,581 persons in the region. 1 per 1600 is the recommended value. We have 121
the immense moral decomposition identities or death causes, no that is beating this planet amid consecrated ground, no funeral. It the poor classes. We are trying really is just a showcase exhibition to make a revolution that has to going around the world and selling begin with a spiritual ethic or it tickets to anyone interested in will be nothing,” and (as usual for buying them. I recall how, for him) ordered it to close. example, after it was opened I saw people sneaking into the Anatomy Suggestions about how didactic it Department’s Museum just to get is shy away from the methods used a sense of what the “show” would – no signed consent, no known be like. However, what is this that
Body repels us as much as attracts us but an attempt to try to grasp who we really are? Indeed, the sense of awe we get from imagining the huge dimensions of the universe is not too different from the humbling experience of dealing with cadavers, as Hamlet put it so well:
“Imperial Caesar, dead and turned to clay, Might stop a hole to keep the wind away. O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe, Should patch a wall t’expel the winter’s flaw!” “Hamlet”, Act V, Scene 1.
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632) by Rembrandt.
Body models – for me respect was not animals). I would suggest that it might vary slightly from person as much expressed physically as is fundamentally impossible to get to person. So it is no use to know mentally: awareness was enough. the most out of anatomy without what a thyroid gland is and where real subjects. A model has what it should be if you are not used After all, Trinity has long passed to recognising it in real bodies. the times when “basic equipment” Moreover, precisely because they “We would leave with for a medical student was a sword are human remains, a professional nothing but a few for dueling and a shovel to dig control and desensitisation start to graves. The Anatomy building, in develop which are important so as remarks about how a dead end between the Chemistry not to get emotional - what you are our subject didn’t building and the Zoology door, there for is to think and act quickly. was long ago made consecrated have as shiny an ground and since this year the At the same time, using cadavers College has had excess donors Adductor magnus as the in a purely utilitarian way seems due to the amount of volunteers to me most radically immoral. I one from table nine.” remember offering their bodies “to Science”. how much a detail of The full time staff is always we put on it, but the skill is the horror it was when in the first “The around making sure everything recognition of structures which Matrix” it was explained to Neo runs smoothly and that the machines used there could be nothing dead human corpses more opposite to to feed other humans. reality than that However, what are the short story by Robert criteria? Who owns the Louis Stevenson, body? Why should we “The Body Snatcher”. respect it? What is to be considered respectful? In retrospective, though, is dissection The two main stances really needed? After here are quite simple. all aren’t there good Unlike the machines enough models mentioned, we have nowadays? Why do we the natural tendency to need to spend so much respect each other, but money and time and should we extend this make people do such a respect to dead people, radical thing as giving or should we simply up “proper” funerals base it on the respect and wakes and all that? for their families and (by the way Wikipedia’s their feelings and page on dissection is rights? Does a dead quite interesting) Well, person have rights? anatomy comes from the Greek anatomia This problem shows which is a composite of up very clearly in two words meaning “to the controversy separate” and “to cut about “Bodies: The open” – unlike other Exhibition”. I am scientific subjects, impressed about how its name refers to uncontroversial it has its method rather been in Ireland, if even than its object (e.g. President Hugo Chavez zoology means the said, when he was told study of animals, not that the exhibition was An inscription from the 16th century “De humani corporis fabrica observation of animals in Caracas, that: “It is libri septem” by Vesalius, the foundational work in anatomy. or dissection of a very evident sign of 6
The Body Snatchers
The science of human dissection has always exerted a powerful hold on the imagination; Andre Madaleno reflects on his experiences in the hidden world of the Anatomy Department.
hen I left that room a couple of weeks ago I felt the most awkward nostalgia I have ever experienced. In a sense I knew these eighteen months had probably been the most iconic, fun-filled and exciting of my life. I had just left the Dissection Room. The walls with the old fashioned paintings of anatomy lessons, the trays with femurs or skulls, the slightly intoxicating smell - yes, I knew I would miss that. I already did. Opposed to the fashionable, exciting life of the “doctors” of “ER” or “Grey’s Anatomy”, the experience of the Dissection Room is always thought of as some kind of gruesome horror tale, an entrance ritual that you have to go through to “be a doctor”. Yes, a girl in my class did faint in the first day of “practicals” but this casualty was nothing compared to the long nights studying Biochemistry or Physiology, the terrors of having to get something ready for Small Group Tutorials, the endless lectures on the most recent research that will be
out of date when you qualify. Week after week, small groups gathered around a “subject” for two hours. I am always impressed by how people can get used to things so fast – the white coats, the scalpels, the gloves, soon became part of us. It was just another thing in your timetable
“I would suggest that it is fundamentally impossible to get the most out of anatomy without real subjects.” and a surprisingly sociable thing indeed. The small tutorials around a table, the discussions on what nerve supplies Serratus anterior, the debates on what material could get asked on the Viva Voce all mingled with the events of the day, gossip and other small talk gave everyone an acquired naturalness only infrequently interrupted by a “new horror” –
the day we saw the first real heart or brains or had to follow the spermatic cord from the abdomen to the testis. Usually we would leave with nothing but a few remarks about how our subject didn’t have as shiny an Adductor magnus as the one from table nine, or how much better the Pav was than the Buttery for hot meals. I have to admit the “yuck factor” never really affected me (is it more feminine or is that just a prejudice? I don’t know). I was the kind of person that was affected by the lousy smell itself rather than by the fact that it came from human bodies. However, I always tried to keep a sane aversion, a kind of an omnipresent mental note (“bear in mind this could be your granny”) that I fed by reading the cause and age of death of the subject and sometimes making some remark like: “This was someone’s humerus” to a classmate when he asked me what were the origins of the triceps. I just didn’t think it was right to go around taking people’s bones while remembering muscle attachments as if they were just 5
The Trinity Sports Centre, natural habitat of the gym bunny... is not that which is depicted here. This one looks nicer, though.
casting sideways glances and poaching the moves of the other creatures. They can be identified by a simple mechanism. Go into the stretching room, begin to perform an obscure type of crunch or stretch and then scan to see which gym bunnies, after about a thirty second lag, begin to perform the exact move you are. This is usually accompanied by an occasional awkward glance your way to compare their own posture to yours. This is not meant to make you feel uncomfortable,
“Newcomers are often unable to adapt in time and are left... sincerely
intrigued by the move you “threw” machine is left unattended at and want to take it for a test drive. anytime by an unsuspecting gym bunny (often a newcomer), the These predators also inhabit the predatory instincts of the lookyrest of the gym. When on the loos take over and they poach the machines they can be identified machine. These creatures hunt by their frequent glances at your to kill, so there is generally no speed and resistance monitor. They means of regaining the machine generally are motivated by instinct for the defenceless newcomer. to then adjust their own speed and resistance to slightly exceed “Gymus Narcissus can yours. Scientists believe that their only be identified highly competitive instincts cause them to derive intense pleasure when encountered from “beating” other gym bunnies in one-sided races on stationary close to the mirrors in equipment. This practice is the back of the gym.” generally seen as annoying by other gym bunnies and met with As in any scientific study, it is a passive-aggressive cock of the important to know your subject head to demonstrate distaste. when investigating the diverse behavioural patterns of gym bunnies in the Trinity Sports Centre. These fascinating creatures are still very misunderstood and more research is definitely needed in this field. As I watch them interacting in their natural habitat I am struck by their… OH MY GOD… I’m a Looky-loo!!!
apologetic when they When not on a machine these Looky-loos are more difficult to unknowingly skip a spot. This is because they take queue of 5 people.” up permanent residence behind another gym bunny, breathing although it often does. It is simply heavily and waiting to overtake that these bunnies, being closely their machine the second it hits related to the “copycat”, are the fifteen minute mark. If the 4
Body (They are a distant cousin to the conversation so as to maintain by watching themselves and it strangers you see so frequently line of sight with the mirror and is the recommendation of this in the arts block that you often afford a more-than-occasional humble researcher that you avoid feel you should just give in and glance into their own eyes. They blocking their view as little is introduce yourself to.) Lifers are are single-minded in their goal known about their reaction to this in the gym regardless of when and will not be distracted. Their type of interaction - they may get you go. At first it may seem mere loving gaze is often accompanied aggressive, or simply confused. coincidence that you Safety is always first, so always see them in the it is better to avoid them. gym; having the same schedule can seem an Another species of bunny attractive differential. can be found in the same But there are other area. These are the only indicators which hybrids found in the gym differentiate this group they are a gym bunny but from say, a newcomer share many characteristics who simply shares your with the monkey family. schedule. Lifers can also They are called the “Juice be identified by their trim monkeys”. They can be physique (sometimes easily identified by the too trim), the smug-asfree weights permanently hell look on their face, attached to their hands, or and the general feeling the excessive grunts they emanating from them issue. They are generally that the gym is truly their found under barbells with natural habitat. Whether ridiculous amounts of or not they should be weight attached. These are “envied” is still under fascinating and impressive intense scientific scrutiny. creatures. Eyewitness accounts claim that Another species, Gymus they can lift four times Narcissus, can only their own body weight be identified when although these claims have encountered close to the never been substantiated, mirrors in the back of or proven in any way. the gym. These bunnies are an asexual species Yet another species and are incredibly of highly flexible gym “turned on” by their own bunny can be found in the appearance. They have “stretching room” and are been observed spending called “yogis”. These elastic the vast majority of little creatures spend their their time in the gym not time in strange postures exercising, but rather that make newcomers staring at themselves to the stretching room in the mirror or other Leprus Duracellus, a better known relative of the gym bunny uncomfortable with the reflective surfaces. Their proximity at which they eye contact will rarely break with by an activity called “posin’ are being performed. Another the mirror regardless of trivial around”. This act is characterised species can be found in this obstacles like conversation with by a wide range of postures, same area as well as the general other gym bunnies, or the actual although most involve flexing of work out area - they are the only performance of exercises. They musculature unnecessarily and/ predator found in the gym. This have an incredible ability to orient or pursing of the lips. Just a field species, called the “Looky-loos”, themselves while engaged in a note: these bunnies are sustained thrive in the stretching area by 3
Gym Bunny Taxonomy Olivia Russell investigates the fascinating creatures that roam the Sports Centre in pursuit of the body beautiful. Artist’s impression of a “juice monkey”.
he Trinity Sports Centre is an amazing cross section of Trinity’s population. Like any watering hole, it draws a wide variety of creatures, all coming together with a similar goal - in this case, fitness. Just as, for example, there are many different types of real rabbits, there is a plethora of different species of what would be commonly referred to (usually bitterly) as “gym bunnies”. In the case of real bunnies (the furry sort) there are three broad categories: big bunnies, little bunnies, and bunnies that bite (although correct identification of the latter is really the only one that “matters”). Similarly, the different species of gym bunnies can be loosely grouped and categorised. Unlike the distinct physical characteristics that differentiate say, the snow hare (big bunny), from its distant cottontail cousin (small bunny/bunny that bites), the characteristics that can be used to distinguish the distinct species of gym bunny are predominantly behavioural. Of course, some physical attributes can prove relatively good
indicators of how a particular They are hard to misidentify gym bunny is going to act. given the permanent look of either confusion or apology fixed First and foremost, there is the on their faces. As they constantly family of “newcomers”. While find themselves in awkward relatively difficult to spot, they situations this is inevitable, and can be easily observed in the certainly handy as a biomarker. gym habitat around January when their population swells For instance, it is often the case that one will not understand the truly competitive nature “‘Juice monkeys’... of gaining access to machines during peak workout times. The can be easily poor newcomers are often unable identified by the free to adapt in time and are left confused as to why they did not weights permanently procure a machine for forty-five attached to their minutes, or sincerely apologetic when they unknowingly skip a hands.” queue of five people. This is very frustrating to these five people who know and observe the gym system and it brings me to the next class in the taxonomy: “lifers”. due to the deadly combination of holiday guilt and overambitious New Year’s resolutions. But their population generally thins after a few weeks and so can prove more difficult to spot come spring time. Of course, a second proliferation often occurs in the weeks leading up to what is referred to in the field as “beach season” (read: summer). During this springtime slump, this bunny type can still be spotted.
One can distinguish lifers simply by the frequency with which they are encountered. Regardless of how often you frequent their habitat, eventually a feeling will emerge that you know them because they seem to take up permanent residence in the gym.
Contents: Body Gym Bunny Taxonomy .................................................. 2 The Body Snatchers ....................................................... 5 Our Beleaguered Health Service ................................... 8 Medical Memories ........................................................ 10 Doctor and Minister: the end of the affair ................... 11 Prescribe Some Positive Vibes...................................... 12 The Brothers Todd in Trinity ....................................... 14
AN BO D D DS Y E OU OU D I BL L T IO E N !
g k oin ul ec f D e so Ch d o or m ? en f so ing er any ch oth cell p. ar se t the Mis hel e . ou .D om C s T.
Editor - Jean Acheson Assistant Editors - Conor James McKinney, Jean Morley Layout and Design - Jean Acheson, Conor James McKinney Front Cover Illustrations - Elaine Jennings Contributors - Thomas Broe, Nina Brown, Dr. Miguel DeArce, Paddy Duffy, Rev. Julian Hamilton, Patricia Hanna, Andre Madaleno, Seรกn Maguire, Olivia Russell, Dr. David Sowby, Eimhin Walsh, Michael Wynne This publication is partially funded by a grant from the DU Publications Committee. The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor. All serious complaints should be addressed to: The Editor, T.C.D. Miscellany, House 6, Trinity College, Dublin 2. Appeals may be directed to the Press Council of Ireland. T.C.D. Miscellany is a full participating member of the Press Council of Ireland and supports the Office of the Press Ombudsman. This scheme, in addition to defending the freedom of the press, offers readers a quick, fair and free method of dealing with complaints that they may have in relation to articles that appear on these pages. To contact the Office of the Press Ombudsman, go to www.pressombudsman.ie. 1
Here at T.C.D. Miscellany, we’re already planning for 2009/10. Here’s how you can be a part of it. Interested in publishing or the media? Like to see how to go about making a magazine from scratch? Want to pick up some extra skills to see you through the big R? Miscellany is entirely student-produced; it couldn’t happen without people like you. Whether you see yourself writing snappy headlines, flogging the ads that keep us afloat or indulging your fetish for the rules of grammar, Miscellany has a place for you. No experience necessary. Fluent English a plus. Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn are the only mandatory requirements.
And, of course, we always need writers. A special Freshers’ Week issue will hit the stands in September. Do you have advice to impart or chilling warnings to deliver to eager new students? Send them to us by September 7th, 2009.
T.C.D. Miscellany Trinity Term 2009: Volume 116, Issue 3