G. B. Shaw said: "The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is not more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."  With so many believers about, what is a poor atheist to do?  The ultimate insult is walking into the brand new offices of my dermatologist today -- he bought a modern, well-accounted professional building of five stories in the heart of town, partly on my money -- and reading on the wall, in huge chrome-like lettering, the quotation from the prophet Isaiah, 7th chapter, about the "coming Messiah."  My only thought was, That's somewhat original.  Many would would quote a canonical.

My dermatologist is as happy as anyone I've ever met.  He is also a genius.  I do not use that word loosely.  To me, it implies a "God"-given talent for something, and by "God" I mean DNA.  My dermatologist is a person of high I.Q. and outgoing disposition.  Or so he seems.  The Christian fundamentalism bothers me, though.  I would complain, but, hey, he appears to be the only dermatologist in town (a city of about 375,000) who takes my Part B Medicare insurance.  (We have a dozen or so dermatologists, including my mother's: DNA also provided me with her skin, which was fair and moley.  Moles can develop into melanoma, the Big "M," one cancer that scares the devil out of me, you should pardon the expression.)  Discretion was the better part of valor.

At least until I got to the huge reception room.  On the tables were copies of a local megachurch pastor's silly book about, among other things, why we should not worship Baal.  It seems that Baal was a god of fertility (which I knew) and that his celebrants reveled in pornography, prostitution, and all manner of vices.  (Which I assumed all along.)  These Baal worshipers sound interesting.  The pastor cannot admit it but the Baal worshipers' only sin was in their type of yoga, preferring the Dionysian to the Appolonian, or the Shaivite to the Kirshnaivite.  One suspects they may have been tantrics, and tantrics are the bugaboo of many a Hindi.

It so happens that even as I thumbed through the book by Pastor Bil [yes, he actually spells it that way] Cornelius' mixture of scripture and Prosperity Gospel, I had, sitting on my desk at the office, a copy of Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith by J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. and Clare Aukofer, a dynamte little book you can get from the Richard Dawkins Foundation.  It so happens this book explains why we are compelled to create gods and communally worship them.  

My dermatologist's religion is his security blanket.  It may never have occurred to him that religion and science are incompatible; not just at odds with each other but pluperfectly inimical.  He isn't the type to put a big O.T. silvery quotation from Isaiah on the wall of the alcove of his new building just to appeal to local Christians.  In fact, I distinctly recall that when he excised a basal cell carcinoma he and the nurse shot me up with lidocaine and gave me a few minutes alone while the anesthetic took effect.  Someone turned on the tape deck and the next thing I knew I was listening to a full TV soundtrack of none other than that hick of all hicks Rev. Osteen, a man so cornball you wonder if he hasn't been channeling Barney Fife.  (We all know it is Victoria who wear the pants and tells him how to tie his shoe laces.)  Imagine going under lidocaine and having to listen to that jive artist and Ponzi schemer?

I happen to believe that Prosperity Gospel = air conditioned dog houses and prayer letters that go into File 13 (making sure that the checks go into the bank).  And it bugged me considerably that here was a man of science who believed.  Prior to authorizing the use of the lidocaine as a local anesthetic, the laboratory had to find evidence of its effectiveness and any known side effects and precautions discovered through controlled experiments prior to putting the stuff on the market.  Imagine my dermatologist demanding this same rigorous peer group trial and error documented process of proof of the wisdom of approving lidocaine from his religion.  There is not one shred of proof for his beliefs; he accepts them on faith, which only moves mountains when Jihadist or drone-driven terrorists plant bombs in the hills.

It was putting Bil's book out on the side tables of the reception room that really bugged me, really tempted me to go to a non-signatory provider of dermatological skills.  If nothing else, Bil's faulty reasoning should offend a man of science, even an MD.  Why would the worship of Baal be any better than the worship of Yahweh-Jesus?  At least the Baal Cult was a true monotheism: Christianity is the worship of three gods, four if you count its begaboo Satan, Lucifier, George Carlin.  The devil is the god of any people you personally dislike. 

And there is no god but Man.

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Enjoyed reading your story.

There is no god - right.

So he is a good doctor - despite his religious beliefs? As long as he isn't preaching to you during your doctor visit.

He's preaching by proxy making me listen to Joel Osteen, who is the most obnoxious creep I can imagine.

Sounds like time to get an MP3 player and listen to it in public.  

Can you ask him to turn it off - maybe suggesting that you are so turned on by Osteen it's distracting, and ask for the tape to play in your car after you leave?

It's probably useless to tell him you find this display offensive. The fact that he has placed it where his patients will encounter it suggests strongly that he is "witnessing" and would even welcome being "persecuted" for his beliefs—it's a long happy Christian tradition.

When I was a teenager, I worked in a drug store next to a photoshop. The owner of the photoshop began to display Catholic statuary and pictures in his shop. Gradually these items took over and despite warnings from all his friends—including my boss who was also Catholic—that he was destroying his business, he couldn't stop. He had to close the store a few months later. People did not bring in their film with the idea of having a religious experience.

In a way, this happened to my own business during my "occult" period.  Eventually, you wake up.

would even welcome being "persecuted" for his beliefs—it's a long happy Christian tradition. - what is the word for this - AutoSchadenfreude?  Taking delight in one's own misfortune.  I'm mixing languages there - there must be a better term.

Selbstschadenfreud?  Suicide is selbstmörder, so it seems a reasonable formation.

What a delightful term - both the idea and the sound of it!

You have a tough decision.  

I'm changing doctors partially because of the same thing, but I have more reason to change than just religion.  However, religion has become the final straw.  In my last 5 visits, he has become more & more blatant in talking to me about god.  He even said something to the effect that we will never figure-out the brain because it's the domain of god.  Ugh!  I think I'll bite the bullet and change within the next few weeks.

Thomson and Aukofer discuss this in their examination of dualism ("mind-body" split).  This guy sounds like an "intelligent design" freak.  Ask him why, for all the super brains we have had in history (e.g. Freud, Darwin, et al.) why have we also had the Mansons, Hitlers, and Pol Pots.

That a doctor would be proselytizing is reprehensible.  If you leave, will you tell him that you are leaving because you feel unwelcome due to the religious proselytizing?




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