Science or spirituality – does it have to be one or the other?

Angelina Jolie, 37, recently underwent a preventive double mastectomy after finding out  she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which significantly increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer, a disease her own mother died of at the age of 59.  “My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,” Jolie wrote. “Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.  I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”

There are many people who are applauding the proactive choice Angelina is making to minimize her chances of getting cancer.  But her radical decision has also been met with some controversy and her actions are being challenged by members of the holistic and natural health community.

Dr. Lissa Rankin, M.D., a former OB/GYN for eight years and author of Mind Over Medicine, Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, says on her website, “By labeling a patient with a negative prognosis and robbing a patient of the hope that cure might be possible, we may ultimately prove the poor prognosis we have bestowed upon our patient correct. Wouldn’t we be better off offering hope and triggering the mind to release health-inducing chemicals intended to aid the body’s self-repair mechanisms?  Is it really healthy for any of us to know that we might have an 87% risk of any illness? Do we really want to poison our minds with such fear-based thoughts that then force us to make decisions about whether or not we will electively cut off perfectly healthy body parts? When we live in fear, we predispose ourselves to illness. To live in fear of what might happen only triggers stress responses in the body.”

And so we find ourselves as a society continually and more increasingly faced with a difficult choice of what is behind Door Number 1, the marvels of modern medicine, and Door Number 2, the miraculous power of our body’s own ability to organically heal and sustain.  And as Dr. Rankin is suggesting, how much do our thoughts come into play in actually creating — and healing — so many of the illnesses we see in our world today?

Conversations With God, Book 1, offered this to us: “You never do die. Life is eternal. You are immortal. You never do die. You simply change form. You didn’t even have to do that. You decided to do that, I didn’t. I made you bodies that would last forever. Do you really think the best God could do, the best I could come up with, was a body that could make it 60, 70, maybe 80 years before falling apart? Is that, do you imagine, the limit of My ability?”

And so with all of the information we have placed before us, upon what do we base our decisions?  Is there a space where science and spirituality harmoniously intersect and work in conjunction to benefit humanity?  Is Dr. Rankin correct in the idea that our fear-based thoughts are actually creating our illnesses and preventing our body’s natural ability to heal?  Or are the medical doctors correct that we are predisposed to certain types of illnesses – cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., — and we are best served to surgically or medicinally prevent and/or cure these diseases?  Or could it a combination of both?

What are your thoughts?

(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at

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  • Wow, this is a good one, Lisa. I commend Angelina for her courageous act and for choosing life but my outlook sides with Dr. Rankin that the knowledge of 87% cripples us with fear. I believe that everything begins with a thought, even our illnesses, and that with the right condition our body will heal itself.

    The problem lies in giving the body the right condition. The negative vibrations many hold onto from guilt, abuse, anger, the unability to forgive, etc. all contribute to our ilness and the bodies capability to heal. Our thoughts and beliefs also are a huge factor. These negative thoughts and feelings of a lifetime are not easy to let go of or change.

    Nutrition is another factor. So many of the foods we eat are filled with poison. The amount of preservatives, chemicals, and sugars in packaged food kills us slowly over the years. Given all these conditions can be corrected our bodies could live forever as ‘Conversations’ notes.

    Hopefully humanity is at a turning point where once enough people have cured themselves the belief system of the whole will become strong enough to change the way we think about and treat disease and illness.

    Thank you for this thought provoking article.

  • Wakil Wasti

    God Knows better regarding who can survive or not

  • Christopher Toft

    Speaking as a spiritual man who is agnostic about the supernatural, this is something i feel some tension about. Regarding medicine and illnesses i am firmly convinced that psychological states of mind very much affect bodily health and i would seek “holistic” treatments in this sense. I feel that whatever treatments promote positive states of mind will definitely help and if surgery/other medical approaches help i would use these too.

  • Shruti Ratna

    Just read the full article and she brings out many points that also went through my mind.

    I would like to add that maybe if people feel that they haven’t reached a certain level of consciousness where they are able to manage their thoughts and feelings, then this would seem like a positive choice to them.

    It easy to talk about holistic healing but can everyone realistically achieve it? personally speaking I am still learning to control my monkey mind!! I would be very interested in feedback on this. Thanks!

    • Erin

      Holistic should be spelled as ‘Whole-istic’. The bottom line is to unleash the personal responsibility of one’s healthfulness, which embraces prevention as key, & wellness of body, mind, & spirit together as a collaborative One organism. Kind of like quelling the monkey with a nice banana, which also provides nourishment for muscles, & when bod & brain are in happy states, it’s easier to set the spirit free…See? 🙂

      I’ve observed however, that since most of humanity has been conditioned toward super-convenience, making personal effort to remain/gain personal health has become more of a nuisance…easier to pop a pill, cut something out, & collect disability than to simply adapt to a wiser life-style.

      The one aspect of Ms. Pitt’s choice not being mentioned are the drugs she has to be on to produce the effects mammary glands naturally provide…chemically made counter-acts are extremely taxing to liver & kidney functions. Now, she may waylay breast cancer, but she will forevermore be tested & drugged for the damage being done elsewhere…can’t just cut out the filter system parts…Allopathy hasn’t gotten that far just yet, nor do they accept that their messing with one little piece effects ALL other processes…or do they, and this just adds to their continuing of biz? (hmmm?)

      It might also bring wonder to the fact that Health classes in schools are only 1 semester of 4, the rest being Physical Education (gym class) that hardly even touches on what is going on with bod during such activity…ya just do it (or try everything in the book to get out of it) 🙂 Sooo, there is hardly any real time ventured into the human, being of it’s Self. Considering that an MD or ND has years of education on the subject, yet we give our selves & children 2 months per year (at best) of barely touching bases…This used to be an every day aspect to consider of one’s beingness, now it is passe’ info.(?)

      Hope this was the feedback you were seeking…I remain in high hopes that human medicine fields will one day also be a One cooperative as the bodies they deal with are. We gots Amazing vehicles to roam about in…enjoy the wonder of them! 🙂 Would be nice to easily slip into new skins right here if we happen to dent or total-out the originals, but we only get one per journey…for now. 🙂
      Namaste’, Shruti!

  • Lloyd Bradsher

    Great discussion, and article as well, thanks. Question, does freedom of choice not allow any of us to pick our own best direction based upon our own preceived ability to deal with our lives? Angelina made her choice based upon “her” understandings about her body and her own fears which she knew all too well. It is not up to us or any one to judge her actions only love and support her as best we can, regardless of whether or not we agree or disagree. To me this is respect of any individual to make choices about themselves that do not harm others but may deeply go against my personal choices and understandings about how life/spirit works.
    I do think we humans will one day learn to heal Ourselves, and that evolution is happening slowly. Holistic and physical science is coming together, and many more physicians are open to using holistic medicine than ever before. It is an individuals own responsibility to make health decisions for themselves with the best information they have, and once made their choice should be honored, even the choice to die. Namaste’

  • poniesnpaint

    I agree that this society has focused way too much on “modern medical miracles” that to me seem little more than butchery in many cases. One thing that absolutely confounds me is the endless campaign against drugs—we’re beat over the head daily about “don’t do drugs” from every source, but as soon as you have a radical hangnail then we’ve got at least a dozen drugs to cure it and you certainly should have every one of them twice a day! We’ve moved doctors from helpers to demi-gods and it’s been to the detriment of us all.
    I do not agree w/ Ms. Jolie’s decision—to me this is self-mutilation on a ridiculous scale and we are denying our own divinity, our own special physical abilities to heal and continue to new life-adventures. I personally do not participate in any form of allopathic medicine, I just don’t hold with it, but it sure gets me a lot of static in the larger society. I prefer to spend my energies on being a Spirit having a Human experience and to me that does not include chemical alterations, surgeries or other forms of alteration that interfere with that process. Would I get “fixed up” if I broke an arm? Probably—would I elect to have body parts removed because somebody creates a diagnosis based in their own fear? NO WAY.
    Never would I call her “brave” for having this surgery—I’d say she was running blind with fear that no amount of money or medicine will ever fix. . . Her kids deserve better, but I wonder if they will ever get the chance to “learn better” –and step into a different kind of thinking?

  • Camwi

    Angelina gave herself relief. I don’t share that belief system, but applaud her for taking “care” of herself.