"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Monday, 5 March 2012

What "Big 'Pharma" learnt from Christianity.

One of the criticisms often laid at the door of “big ‘pharma” is that it attempts to medicalise perfectly natural and benign variations in people’s health and sometimes invent new diseases and conditions in order to expand the market for new drugs, Particularly in the affluent west where we have come to expect optimal health at all times as a virtual human right, it would almost be surprising if the pharmaceutical industry didn’t try to exploit our hypochondria to sell us yet more products we don’t really need. It is after all only a variation on what all producers try to do, which is expand the “universe” of potential customers to market their products to.
Depending on your opinion of the pharmaceutical industry and capitalism in general you may have a view on the extent to which corporations really do indulge in such manipulation of our collective psyche to maximise their potential sales, however there is one industry that has been doing exactly the same thing for two millennia; Christianity. And I say Christianity specifically as opposed to religion in general because it is Christianity that first sells us the disease, which is original sin and then offers the cure, which is Jesus Christ.
Even the other Abrahamic traditions, Judaism and Islam do not market themselves in quite this way with the emphasis on salvation via one individual product as the panacea for the sins it has itself saddled us with. In fact Christianity’s USP is precisely that God comes to you, via Christ to cure you permanently from your moral afflictions, never mind that you were probably unaware that you were so afflicted in the first place, or would have been if the bible hadn’t told you that you were. It’s marketing genius really when you think about it.
And, just in case you might be tempted to point out that, if you really are so “fallen” and morally sick, why do you not have any symptoms? Well, what about those lustful thoughts, the sex before marriage, the envy of your more successful peers and all of those other (perfectly natural) immoral behaviours you may indulge In ? Of course you need a shot of Jesus, at least once a week to be taken with wine and a cracker.
At least with big ‘pharma, if they invent a condition they are obliged to sell you a product which is proven to alleviate it (if they are going to call a bad mood “depression” the pill has to work in some way). Christianity however offers spiritual homeopathy, not only is the disease bogus, but the “cure” is devoid of substance.

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