Semmelweis Effect

Ignaz Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician in the 1800’s who had the audacity to publish the idea that doctors should wash their hands before attending to a patient.  This was not just some wild idea of his; he had research to back it up.  As they say, no good deed goes unpunished and his punishment was to be ostracized by the medical community.

As a result, we have named an aspect of the human condition after Dr. Semmelweis.   “The Semmelweis reflex or ‘Semmelweis effect’ is a metaphor for the reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs or paradigms.” [1]

Now some maintain that at least parts of the ‘Semmelweis effect’ story are a myth. [2]  However, regardless of its truth, the fact remains that we humans have a tendency to reject new information that contradicts what we already know.  This is especially true in our religious beliefs.  We are of the opinion, whether we realize it or not, that our interpretation of the Bible is infallible.  Therefore any interpretation of the Bible that is different than ours is wrong.

There is nothing wrong with being confident in our beliefs provided we have reasons for those beliefs (I Peter 3:15).  However, if we do discover problems in our belief system, we must address, not ignore, them.  In this blog we have pointed out at least three problems with the Christian doctrine of salvation.  The question is:  Will the Christian community will address those problems or continue to ignore them.




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