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BIRTH THE BIBLE WAY

Anonymous

(Investigator 100, 2005 January)
 
 

CLUE UNHEEDED KILLED MILLIONS

In the 19th and 20th centuries the Western position for women giving birth was to lie on their back. This position was adopted in countries around the world as medical science spread and modern hospitals were built.

In promoting the back-position the medical profession ignored a clue in the Bible on making childbirth easier. This failure may have killed millions of mothers and babies.
 
 

EMPIRICAL STATEMENTS AND COMMANDS

Before I explain the childbirth clue consider the difference between two sorts of statements.

Descriptive statements are statements of fact or alleged fact and are true of false. For example:

John is eight years old.
David killed Goliath.


Prescriptive statements are commands and ethical claims about right and wrong. For example:

Do not get drunk.
It is wrong to steal.


It's often said that science does not deal with ethics. However, there is a way in which science does.

If someone, for example, says, "Immoral people are unhealthier" we have a claim science can investigate. Whether immorality is right or wrong is ignored and instead we compare the health of the two groups – immoral people and virtuous people.

The Bible says that God's commands promote longer and healthier life, soundness of mind, joy and peaceful relationships. These are things that can be measured.

Therefore Bible ethics – Prescriptive statements – can often be scientifically researched. Just get the statistics and do the maths.
 

HOW DESCRIPTIVE BECOMES PRESCRIPTIVE

Some Descriptive statements describe actions or behaviors. For example:

Everyone looked right and left before crossing the street.

Rudolf studied daily for his exams.

These are still Descriptive statements. They do not prescribe anything. But they may nevertheless suggest a course of action.

For example if I find out that people who look right and left avoid being hit by cars, and if I want to remain unhurt, I would do what the statement says even though it's not commanded. I would then be treating a Descriptive statement as Prescriptive.

Similarly if Rudolf passed his exams, and I want to also, then I might do what Rudolf did although it's not commanded.

In this way Descriptive statements can – if they mention beneficial outcomes – be treated as Prescriptive.

Furthermore, the Bible teaches that God guided Israel so as to promote population growth and health and prosperity. (Genesis 26:1-5; 48:15-16; Deuteronomy 7:15)

For this reason too, DESCRIPTIVE statements describing what the Israelites who had God's approval did, can be examined for possible health/prosperity-promoting ideas. Possibilities include:

David played the harp and cured King Saul's "evil spirit";
A merry heart promotes healing;
Mary wrapped the infant Jesus in swaddling.

We don't just copy any or every reported behaviour – rather we "examine" it for "possibilities".

Sometimes we'll come up with helpful information that could enhance human welfare today. Consider childbirth.
 

CHILDBIRTH POSITION

In the time of the early patriarchs the woman giving birth often sat on another person's knees. Rachel's maid gave birth to a child, "upon my [Rachel's] knees". (Genesis 30:1-3)

 And: "…the children also of Machir…were born upon Joseph's knees." (Genesis 50:23)

In the time near the Exodus the Hebrews used a "birth stool" on which the woman giving birth sat. (Exodus 1:16)

Exodus 1:19 says the Hebrew women were "vigorous" and suggests they gave birth quickly.

This is the clue the medical profession should have examined sooner. Does sitting make for easier birth than lying on one's back? The Bible statement about birth-stools is Descriptive – it does not prescribe. But it is linked to a claim regarding quicker/easier childbirth, which women and doctors would want.

In many African and Pacific tribes also, women gave birth in a squatting position and this was known in Europe. In Europe birth-stools were used during the Middle Ages.

The German journal Der Spiegel had a report on the mother's best position for giving birth. (1986, Number 43, 278-288) The report says that lying on one's back to give birth is: "…the second stupidest position after standing on your head."

The article suggested that the high rate of caesarian births in modern times is due to using this stupid position.

In Europe alone in the 19th and 20th centuries there were 3,000 million human births. Considering that birth is among the most dangerous times in anyone's life, there must have been millions of cases where using the "second stupidest position" made the difference that caused death.
 

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