Acceptance of faith amongst Medical Practitioners
This is my first post on Nirmukta.
I have been reading avidly the numerous and excellent topics raised and discussed here in the fora.
For many years, I have observed members of the medical profession (GPs, Anaesthetists, Radiologists, etc.), sponsoring certain religious events with gusto.
Some years ago, I went to an event in Birmingham, UK, that was celebrating Krishna Janmashtami. This was a well organised function, attended by many devout Hindus, with a religious sermon conducted throughout the morning, followed by a sumptuous and tasty vegetarian lunch. I normally avoid religious events, but on this occasion, I allowed my wife to persuade me. In any case, I met a good number of people, and had a reasonably pleasant time interacting with a number of them. Towards the end of the event, I happened to speak to one of the organisers, and on enquiring as to who the sponsors for the food were, was surprised to learn that it was a group of doctors in and around Birmingham!
Doctors, and other medical practitioners, by dint of their training and profession, follow the scientific method. Their entire professional life revolves around looking for evidence and acting upon it. It completely befuddles me how such evidence-trained professionals can cock a snook at their training and devotedly partake in such obscurantist events!
More recently, I entered into a debate with some doctors. I questioned them as to how they could believe in a non-existent so-called super-being. One of them said it was because they could not explain many things, the human brain does not have the answers to everything, and that a belief in a higher power is very useful when you are looking for answers.
Now I do not understand this at all.

With advances in knowledge, and science explaining how our world functions, I find it incredible that Medical Practitioners of all people, can hold such beliefs.

How can one explain this? I welcome your thoughts.



What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence - Christopher Hitchens
Hello Diwakar,

Great topic!

I think it takes a lot of courage to let go of decades of brainwashing that was source of comfort and even family bonding through rituals and tradition. Not many dare to let go of this comfort, even though its coming from fragile & illusive grounds.

Here's Sam Harris dealing with this topic

And another video that takes an honest introspection how religion is more than a simple lie

Hi Freethinker,
Thanks for replying.
Great videos. The second one: ...but intelligent people believe in God was brilliant!

I myself am an atheist - have been, since I was in 9th grade - not sure if that came through in my first post  smile ...
Sam Harris' interpretation with Francis Collins as an example, explains the thought process, to an extent.

My own take is a little different.
These are highly intelligent people, who have reached a certain high level in their professions and in society. And, they are set in their way of thinking. Your second video link explains this aptly. 
Now, when I have questioned them as to their so-called beliefs, though some tried to answer in a reasonable tone, some others, especially some elderly doctors, have taken umbrage at my questioning - they know that their faith is irrational. But, I was challenging their thinking. And this, they dislike.

I would have thought, being people of science, they would have a more rational approach; their nuanced ( - in Sam Harris' words) irrationality is a little disturbing, for me, considering the number of people who can get influenced by their thought processes. I am particularly annoyed with these "senior" faith-hardened doctors. They get angry when upstarts like me ask such questions - they feel I am attacking who they are, instead of questioning how they think.

I guess if more and more people challenge such thinking, the better it will be for the future.
I'll stop my rant now.
Thanks again, for replying.


What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence - Christopher Hitchens
I don't think you should take it to heart, DKC. Nobody likes their core beliefs questions by a subordinate at work. They don't know that your intentions are well and they make take it as a challenge to their authority. That's all, at least I believe so.
I think you are giving doctors more credit than they deserve. Even many scientists continue their day jobs while holding on to religious beliefs. While, Darwin may have become an atheist towards the end of his life, Einstein was at best agnostic. Some of the founding fathers of Quantum Mechanics made spiritual-sounding statements which to this day are enthusiastically quoted in support of Quantum Woo.

The correlation between Intelligence (as measured by IQ tests) and Rationality (however we understand it) was found in research studies to be less than 0.3. In fact more intelligent people are better at cherry-picking facts i.e. more prone to confirmation bias.

Being a doctor is only one dimension of your identity - you are also (hypothetically) a male, an Indian, a Hindu, a Punjabi etc. And we know that beliefs that are (1) tied to one's identity and (2) imbibed from authority figures, are very hard to abandon because it means undermining to some extent that identity / authority. Finally, older people are much less likely to abandon their core beliefs because they are that much more invested in them.

In short, what you experienced doesn't seem surprising at all.

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