Our Pediatric Endocrinologists last words to my son who is now an adult and must go to an adult Dr. now...

Ever since our son was diagnosed at the age of 10 with type 1 diabetes (an auto-immune disease, nothing like type 2), we have gone to a wonderful Pediatric Endocrinologist.  His nurse even had had type 1 since she was a child, so she knew what she was talking about!  We have always felt so secure and taken-care of with them.  For 8 years.  Now that my son just turned 18, he has to switch to an adults Endocrinologist. 

So, after our last visit today, we hugged and thanked him and told him he'd been awesome and we would miss him.  Then he said to my son "This has nothing to do with medicine, but keep close to the lord.  I want to see you in heaven."  We just smiled and left.  I wasn't going to start a discussion, he had patients waiting, and we're not going to see him again anyway.  But, REALLY?  Alrighty then...

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He's a good Pediatrician so let him have his fantasy world, I suppose.

He might be stressed out.

It is unfortunate. I’ve been in a somewhat similar situation.

However, surveys reveal that doctors believe in god well above the average rates of the typical college grad or PhD scientists. It makes sense, they are the ones that treat people and sometimes have to deliver the news that you are going to die or you have a life changing illness, and also inform families of their loved ones passing.

I think they need something to believe in, to cling to, and religion is the proverbial “any port in a storm”. I think the problem is summed up best by Sam Harris, something along the lines of our emotional needs must be met some other way than through the comfort myths of religion that are simply untrue.  

As non-believers we have not done a good job offering the comfort side. Everyone wants the cosmic do over, that we have a second chance. The vast majority of us are raised with some vague form of an afterlife. The answer, however, is appreciate this life. It is the only one you got. And we need to have that imprinted from a young age instead of pray to Jesus or Mohamed (or be born of the Chosen people) and you will go to heaven.  

We can destroy the myths with logic but people go running back for the comfort. Until we offer something similar, we might as well be farting with a walkman on*.

Some years ago my wife had a miscarriage. We were devastated and well intentioned people said “Your child is up in heaven now” or “He’s with god”. This from family, friends and even the hospital staff. I was never so offended, but you know, I realized this is my failure and a failure by the atheist community and non-believers in general. We should do a better job of demonstrating that a life lived to its fullest through reason and investigation and accepting the finality of death is far better than a life of illusion and the only way we can truly take advantage of our brief existence.


*shameless Bloodhound Gang reference.

**shameless Dan plug, http://kck.st/OLWjc1 we are trying to accomplish this is some small way with our film.

Hi Dan,

Very well put.  I don't have the heart to do what doctors have to, delivering the devastating message every day, so I can't fault them for having a comfort mechanism.  Even if I don't agree with it.  

As an aside, in these situations I treat it like a "bless you" moment when I sneeze.  While I find it silly, it doesn't hurt or hinder me in anyway.  I just smile and nod, knowing that someone was sharing a bit of kindness in their own way.

Hey booklover I think you handled it right. He has been a good doctor even though he believes in fairy tales.

I have to admit that it is depressing to find out that someone you've trusted with your care, or the care of your family member also holds outrageous, fantastical beliefs. I've had to look the other way with my mother's physician because he literally saved her life, but I must admit I have a hard time with it. That having been said, I will now interview all my future physicians, I'm paying for them and I want to know that in a pinch he/she is not going to be digging around in my innards praying to some invisible dude to save me lest they be inept! At least my OB/GYN is sane... I'm having trouble finding a sane family practitioner in this town... the odds are seriously against me, every office so far that I've been to in this town has bibles in the waiting area and Christian messages on the walls and perhaps they're just pandering, but if that's the case they're too disingenuous for me to trust them to begin with!

I would have guessed this was in the bible belt but maybe I don't know that much about Illinois.  Maybe he is just saying what he thinks you want to hear but if this is so, it is really dishonest.

Thank you, Raynebird.  Amid your pain you have given me hope.

This is exactly the sort of thing we need, Raynebird.  My deepest condolences for what you are going through right now.

Raynebird, that is beautiful, as are you. Thank you. I will save this to share with all my loved ones and I will keep you in my thoughts as I pass it along.

I avoid all mention of religion with my oncologist, who has kept me healthy for over a decade after being diagnosed with chronic leukemia ("the good kind").  I must assume because of his ethnic origin (he's Lebanese-American) he is either Muslim or Christian, and the cancer center where he works is part of a Catholic hospital chain.  (There are religious sentiments aplenty in the chemo ward.)  The great irony to my mind is this: your endocrinologist, not God, has kept your son alive all these years, and physicians are, by definition, men of science.  That he does not see any mutual exclusion in Darwinian evolution and Genesis is problematic enough, but scientists are trained to seek evidence for hypotheses and, finding none, to conclude that it was wrong.  Not every doctor can be House, of course, but one would expect a high percentage of atheists (and, at least, agnostics) in the profession. 

I am hardly surprised, however, since one would expect such a high number among attorneys, too, but I assure you the ratio is probably about the same. As the grumpy professor in The Paper Chase (played so nimbly by John Houseman in both the TV show and the movie) tells his students, "You come in here with heads full of mush, and with any luck you'll leave thinking like a lawyer."  Many leave thinking like a lawyer but with a blind spot for religious belief.  When we appeal cases on the basis of an adverse ruling based on propositions for which there is "not a scintilla of evidence" (not so much as a speck), we often get new trials.  Many in the legal profession cannot see that there is not a scintilla of evidence for God, and unfortunately your child's doctor has his parallel to about the same degree in the practice of law.  That you said nothing to contradict him reminds me of George Harrison's discovery of the philosophy of Sir Frank Crisp, whose stately mansion he'd bought, slogan-bearing bas reliefs and all: "Scan not a friend with microscopic glass./You know his faults, now let his foibles pass."  Nice sentiment I think, and one I try to remember when dealing with doctors.


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