24 comments on ““Faith and Medicine”

  • “In my personal experience there are no atheists at the cancer centre”
    Well my personal experience is of two people with cancer facing up to it with strength and dignity right up to the end and remaining atheists. Personal experience is meaningless in this argument.
    This is a variation on the “no atheists in the foxhole” argument.
    As for his statement that faith helps people to heal faster, there have been studies done on that and that has shown to be bogus. It might help with something that is not serious like any placebo would but it won’t help you to recover from cancer. Unless he means having a positive attitude in which case he should say that instead of implying that this can only come from faith.



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  • 4
    max.tammbeck says:

    I think the doctor was making a serious point, although he hinted it wasn’t a literal truth that ‘there are no atheists at the cancer center’. We are all familiar with the idea of religion as a crutch in times of need. Many people do lean on their faith in desperate times, and I don’t see this as any kind of threat to atheists like myself.



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  • Doctors don’t have to be people of faith in order to provide care and compassion to believers. If Dr. Jandial agrees with that position, his interview is moot. If he doesn’t, he’s ridiculous.

    Mike



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  • 6
    papa lazaru says:

    In reply to #4 by max.tammbeck:

    I think the doctor was making a serious point, although he hinted it wasn’t a literal truth that ‘there are no atheists at the cancer center’. We are all familiar with the idea of religion as a crutch in times of need. Many people do lean on their faith in desperate times, and I don’t see this as any kind of threat to atheists like myself.

    Yeah, like “no atheists in foxholes”. Excuse me while I throw up.



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  • 7
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #4 by max.tammbeck:

    I think the doctor was making a serious point, although he hinted it wasn’t a literal truth that ‘there are no atheists at the cancer center’. We are all familiar with the idea of religion as a crutch in times of need. Many people do lean on their faith in desperate times, and I don’t see this as any kind of threat to atheists like myself.

    It might not be a “threat”, but it is an assumption about the supposed moral advantages of religion, and this assumption is the main reason why religions are not currently gathering dust in the history sections of libraries. Heck, their false claim to ethical expertise is potentially the raison d’etre of religious movements in the first place, and the superstitions are just there to make it more plausible than it otherwise would be.

    Religious people are granted privileged access and roles as suppliers of comfort in such circumstances because it is unthinkingly and unjustly assumed that they are better qualified than anyone else. It might not be done maliciously or consciously, but it nevertheless becomes a form of positive discrimination, because if you think religious people are better qualified to help people in need, you necessarily think non-religious people are not. It doesn’t help that people apparently think “faith” is a synonym for “compassion” and “trustworthiness”.



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  • 8
    Alan4discussion says:

    I was quite surprised at this neurosurgeon’s statement: “There are no atheists at the cancer center.”

    Nah! “Atheists can’t walk without my religion crutch propping them up! It should be obvious that if I, (as a superior person), need a crutch, everyone does!”



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  • 9
    atheistengineer says:

    In reply to #5 by Sample:

    Doctors don’t have to be people of faith in order to provide care and compassion to believers. If Dr. Jandial agrees with that position, his interview is moot. If he doesn’t, he’s ridiculous.Mike

    They don’t agreed, and vice versa, they don’t need to be atheists to provide care and compassion to believers. And neither do they have to be atheists to be rational and scientific.

    For that vast majority of the population compassion and caring and science and rationality are traits that are independent of each other (you can be scientific and caring or scientific and an anus or caring and no nothing) and traits that are largely independent of whether or not someone believes.

    It is only when you get to the extremist biblical and koranic literalists and loonies that it becomes an issue.



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  • 10
    poseyjt says:

    Baring serious brain damage (possibly resulting in religion? I will remain and atheist till the day I die. Once you take off religious blinders it would be silly to go back to believing in fairy tales. As to a deadbeat parent deist god… why turn to that in the end?



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  • 15
    Sabotskij says:

    One of the most famous atheist in the world died of cancer not that long ago… has he forgotten about that? I’m talking of course about Christopher Hitchens.



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  • 17
    sundiver says:

    Funny, my neurosurgeon is a Dawkins level agnostic. He was quite amused that, when asked what religion I am in the ED, I responded “Unorthodox Jew”.



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  • 18
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #16 by Alan4discussion:

    There are probably quite a few atheist cancer sufferers moving from cancer wards to euthanasia clinics if the get the chance! http://old.www.richarddawkins.net/comments/637630

    Just to add an example to my earlier comment:-

    Euthanasia organisations have been widely used by foreigners,[4] most notably Germans, as well as the Swiss, in what critics have termed suicide tourism. Around half of the people helped to die by the organisation Dignitas [5] have been Germans.

    In July 2009, British conductor Sir Edward Downes and his wife Joan died together at a suicide clinic outside Zürich “under circumstances of their own choosing.” Sir Edward was not terminally ill, but his wife was diagnosed with rapidly developing cancerhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia-in-Switzerland



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  • I recently had a very bad experience at a doctor’s office. The first thing he asked me (I needed a doctor and he was the only one available) was “What is your faith?” That took me by surprise but I responded “I’m not religious”. Which should have been clear enough. After the examination and whatnot he said “One more thing before you leave. You should give faith a chance, get together with your wife and read the gospels, pray to Jesus to heal you because that’s how he healed the lepers” and he went on and on about how good it was to be a catholic and that he even started making serious money once he gave himself to Jesus… at which point I managed to pick up my jaw from the floor, collected my things and left without a word. I didn’t even bother entering an argument of any kind. I was flabbergasted that somebody with a scientific background was also so seriously disconnected from reality, in particular in his own field. Pray to Jesus to heal my knee? Really? So my meniscus was torn by a demon? So I’m not surprised that this neurosurgeon made the statement that he made; it’s obvious that some people can keep contradictory information in their brain and not question it (funny that he’s a brain surgeon, too).



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  • 21
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #20 by Courage:

    I am both a physician and I have cancer. I am still an atheist. Facing death has done nothing to change that.

    My brother has had a slow cancer for 10 years – and is also still an atheist! Thank science for treatments!



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  • 22
    Silverwhistle says:

    James Boswell could have told him otherwise over 200 years ago. Boswell was both shocked and admiring of David Hume’s calm and courageous approach to his death from bowel and liver cancer, without compromising his lack of religion.

    And 4 years ago my father was in a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. We nearly lost him (quadruple bypass and defib implant were needed), but he came through it – again, still an atheist.



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  • 23
    Silverwhistle says:

    In reply to #15 by Sabotskij:

    One of the most famous atheist in the world died of cancer not that long ago… has he forgotten about that? I’m talking of course about Christopher Hitchens.

    David Hume, long before that.



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  • 24
    Silverwhistle says:

    In reply to #6 by papa lazaru:

    Yeah, like “no atheists in foxholes”. Excuse me while I throw up.

    I shall have to ask my friendly neighbourhood fox her opinion on this. I don’t think she cares much one way or the other, provided she gets the occasional bacon-flavoured doggy-treat. ;-D



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