In the last edition of the sBMJ, there was an article about the role of those possessed of religious convictions within the medical profession. I don’t have the article handy, but I recall that the result was not favourable.
As you may have gathered, I am a medic and I am also a Christian.
Yet I can’t help but be tempted to side with the atheists on this one.
And not because it was even-handed and fair and brilliantly argued. It wasn’t particularly.
No, my reaction is because of the response to the article that was printed in the June edition. “I feel that doctors who have a conscience are preferable to ones who don’t,” writes a fourth year medical student. “Optimally, I would like to know that my doctor had a Judeo-Christian conscience, rooted in life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.”
I’m not about to jump up and start witnessing.
I think there’s no reason for my patients to know on which principles my conscience is based. I don’t tell them that I’m a Christian and I’d prefer any of my healthcare providers not to tell me, either – after all, what if their Judeo-Christian conscience were rooted in Leviticus? I’d run a mile.
And so long as I seem to be acting with a conscience, what should it matter where that conscience comes from?
Is he saying that an atheist doesn’t have a conscience? Or that any parts of a personal moral code that don’t come from the Bible aren’t real morality? Really? I believe in God, but I believe in the UN Declaration of Human Rights too. The men and women of other faiths, are they without conscience? Is there no morality in Islam or Buddhism? Or Judaism? What, any goodness gleaned from the Torah doesn’t count unless you subscribe to the New Testament as well?
A response from a different student also appears. “I do not respect religion,” he writes. “However, I respect everyone’s right to hold religious beliefs and to practice their faith. As doctors we must keep our personal beliefs outside of the consultation room and act in the best interests of the patient.”
It’s probably inappropriate to say to a self-confessed atheist, but Amen.
The original article can be found for those with access at: Riddington T. Religion and hypocrisy. Student BMJ 2011;19:d2502. The responses that I’ve discussed can be read there or on p6 of the print edition of sBMJ June 2011.