The following is a continuation of part 2.
A third severe problem with Chiropractor Fox’s practice is that his chiropractic philosophy is occult and unscientific. While there are chiropractors who have rejected the occult and unscientific ideas of the founder of chiropractic, D. D. Palmer, and have embraced the (Biblical) scientific method for evaluating facts—namely, those chiropractors associated with the National Association of Chiropractic Medicine,[i] which sought a merger in 1994 with the Orthopractic Manipulation Society, Chiropractor Fox is not one of these scientifically practicing men. The (unfortunately, small minority) of chiropractors who have rejected New Age philosophy and similar mystical concepts for science do not make wild and unsubstantiated claims that they can cure just about everything through spinal manipulation, but limit themselves to what can indeed be factually demonstrated and have nothing to do with pagan chi energy and such occultisms, namely, that spinal manipulation can bring temporary relief for back pain. Such chiropractors, which one might view as a related medical service to a physical therapist, are to be commended, and a Christian who has lower back pain and who wishes to go to one such chiropractor has nothing in Scripture or science that would properly prevent him from doing so. Unfortunately, Chiropractor Fox is one of the large majority of unreformed chiropractors who have not rejected pseudoscience, but continue to employ methods built upon the philosophy of the founder of chiropractic, D. D. Palmer—who was quoted in a large framed picture prominently displayed in Fox’s office.
Daniel. D. Palmer confessed that practices like his were not new but were associated with ancient pagan religion and cults, as well as various occultic societies of his own day. Before his invention of modern chiropractic, he had been a psychic healer for over nine years, had studied spiritism, developed his chiropractic principles from the occultic ideas of mystical body energies (chi, etc.) taught by these pagan philosophies, and even transmitted his psychic powers to his son, B. J. Palmer. D. D. Palmer claimed that chiropractic manipulated a divine life force (cf. Genesis 3:5, “ye shall be as gods,” said the devil) within all people called the “Innate,” which flowed from the brain through the nerves to the organs of the body, and which was also the source of all manifestations of occult and psychic power. B. J. Palmer stated that the Innate, a personal, divine guide, was the true founder of chiropractic. D. D. Palmer said that he received the idea of “replacing displaced vertebrae for the relief of human ills” in a séance through communication with the spirit of Dr. Jim Atkinson, a doctor who had died some 50 years earlier.[ii] Chiropractic, said both Palmers, cannot be practiced apart from a personal working relationship with the Innate, and this spirit guide will assist the chiropractor with his diagnosis.[iii] The occult dangers of unreformed chiropractic (referred to below simply as “chiropractic” for the sake of simplicity), that is, chiropractic techniques employed by those not associated with the National Association of Chiropractic Medicine, is frighteningly clear.
D. D. Palmer claimed to have restored the hearing of a deaf man, Harvey Lillard, by manipulating his spine, and this, he alleged, was involved in his promoting his chiropractic ideas to the world. The story of this healing is spread widely among those in favor of chiropractic to this day. However, the daughter of the man allegedly restored to hearing by Palmer, Valdeenia Lillard Simons, claimed that this restoration of hearing through chiropractic spinal manipulation did not happen.[iv] Far more important than the disputable testimony of various people about what happened in the life of the nineteenth century janitor, Mr. Lillard, is the fact that it is impossible for spinal manipulation to have anything to do with restoring one’s hearing, since all of the nerves that are associated with hearing are within the head itself, and so hearing has nothing to do with the nerves in the spinal cord. Thus, this foundational story of the alleged healing of Mr. Lillard by D. D. Palmer through spinal manipulation is impossible.
The explanation for chiropractic techniques given by Chiropractor Fox is representative of attempts at a scientific-sounding explanation for the flow of chi and “Innate” developed by D. D. Palmer and intimately connected with chiropractic methodology. Fox, during our visit, asserted that the brain sends electrical signals to the organs of the body through the spinal cord, and that spinal vertebrae can impinge the spinal nerves, something chiropractors generally call a “subluxation.” When the nerves are impinged by the spinal vertebrae, electricity does not flow to the organs through the spine as it ought to, and one thus gets sick. Manipulating the spine to eliminate places where the bones of the spine are crushing or pressing on the nerves will then allegedly eliminate the reduced flow of electricity, and thus restore health to the organs. The problems with this alleged scientific explanation for chiropractic claims to cure or assist in the elimination of disease are severe.
First, the health of one’s organs is not related to the flow of electrical impulses through the spine. Someone who snaps his spine by, say, diving into a very shallow pool of water, and thus become paralyzed from the neck down, does not suffer severe organ malfunction from the entire area below where his spinal cord has snapped. His heart, intestines, liver, and other organs continue to function normally, and he is able to live for many years in his condition. The snapping of the spine prevents his brain from transmitting electrical impulses to his voluntary muscles, so that he is unable to move these muscles as he wishes—doubtless a very significant and sad problem—but that is just about it. If traditional chiropractic theory was true, all those who are thus paralyzed should quickly die as their organs stop functioning, since electrical impulses from the spinal cord have ceased entirely. This simply does not happen.
Second, God has designed our spines very well, so that the spinal nerves actually do not get impinged by the bones surrounding them, and electrical impulses are not at all affected by this non-extant disability that is the theoretical basis behind all chiropractic. Surrounding the nerves in the spinal cord are large areas of spongy tissue. These provide excellent cushioning and protection from any such harm to the nerves from the spinal bones. No scientific test has ever demonstrated the existence or the validity of such impingement of the spinal nerves (“subluxations”)—an amazing and devastating fact, in light of the fact that chiropractors have literally earned billions over the course of their over a century of practice, so that they have a superabundance of funds to produce such studies to prove the legitimacy of their methods. On the contrary, genuine tests of the subluxation theory have demonstrated that these spinal impingements do not exist, and, indeed, are impossible. Before pressure upon the spinal cord is extreme enough to in any way compress or affect the spinal nerves protected by the spinal bones, the bones themselves will shatter.[v] In other words, God has designed our spinal cords so well that the bones of the cord simply do not harm the nerves within them. Pressure that is so extreme that it is just short of shattering the spinal bones does not impinge the nerves at all. Nothing happens to the spinal nerves from actions in everyday life that can prevent electrical signals from passing through them. Pressure will shatter the spinal bones before it will affect the spinal nerves. Therefore, anyone who has not had the bones of his spinal cord break into many pieces has not had anything negative whatever happen to his spinal nerves from the spinal bones. The fact that spinal bones do not impinge spinal nerves makes chiropractic theory, as expressed by Fox and D. D. Palmer, impossible. Chiropractic “spinal realignments” or “adjustments” do nothing positive whatsoever to the flow of electrical impulses through the spinal nerves, because nothing negative that required “adjustment” or “realignment” has taken place.
While chiropractic “adjustments” do not benefit the overall health of the body or fight disease,[vi] since Palmer’s theories are false, chiropractic spinal manipulation and other associates of chiropractic visits can cause serious harm to one’s health. First, full-spine X-rays of the type employed by many chiropractors—including Fox—cause cancer. When I found out that Judy had had such X-rays performed on her twice, once as a child and once relatively recently, I was very concerned. “A five-view lumbosacral series of x-rays exposes the gonads to 3,000 times more radiation than front-to-back and lateral chest x-rays.”[vii] Spinal X-rays of the sort employed by chiropractors contributes yearly to hundreds of cancer deaths.[viii] Furthermore, manipulations of the neck, employed by many chiropractors—including Fox—can result in the chiropractic patient suffering strokes or becoming paralyzed.[ix] When I saw Fox perform these dangerous neck manipulations upon Judy, I was, let me say, not a little displeased.
Furthermore, the misinformation that one will get about one’s health by accepting the tenants of unreformed chiropractic, practicing muscle testing, or employing homeopathy, will often delay or even entirely prevent the taking of reasonable and realistic measures to improve legitimate health problems. There is no equivalence between a scientifically proven method for dealing with a health issue and one that is sheer speculation or, worse, one revealed by demons. Employing unproven methods is not a sort of equal “alternative” medicine, but, at best, a risky endeavor of the sort we do not consider wise in lesser matters. Why do we want a house to meet up to proven criteria for buildings so that it will not collapse in a storm, and we want a bank that meets proven criteria for financial stability so that our money does not vanish, but we will entrust our health to methods that—even apart from their roots in the occult—have not been proven to work? Are we getting better health, or simply a lighter pocketbook? Do we do well to employ health practices that are impossible upon their stated methods of working?
[i] cf. pg. 7, “NCAHF Fact Sheet on Chiropractic,” William T. Jarvis, http://www.ncahf.org/articles/c-d/chiro.html.
[ii] “NCAHF Fact Sheet on Chiropractic,” pg. 1.
[iii] pgs. 211-215, Can You Trust Your Doctor? Ankerberg & Weldon.
[iv] “NCAHF Fact Sheet on Chiropractic,” pg. 1.
[v] Cf. “A Scientific Test of Chiropractic’s Subluxation Theory,” Edmund S. Crelin, http://www.chirobase.org/02Research/crelin.html.
[vi] Ernst Edzard. “Chiropractic: A critical evaluation,” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 35:544-562, 2008] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18280103.
[vii] “NCAHF Fact Sheet on Chiropractic,” pg. 5.
[ix] “Chiropractic’s Dirty Secret: Neck Manipulation and Strokes,” Stephen Barrett. http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/chirostroke.html; cf. “NCAHF Fact Sheet on Chiropractic,” pg. 5ff.