We live in an age of courage. An age when people like Alex Jones are willing to out the Secret Muslims infiltrating the White House. An age when people like Lena Dunham are willing to fight the dangerous threat of Vietnamese-French Bread sandwiches and sushi promoting cultural appropriation in college dining halls. An age when people like Tom Woods courageously dare to dream of a world without government. And great minds like those of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris dream of removing the vicious taint of religion from our society.
I have mistakenly criticized this thinking and been told I didn’t understand it or had misrepresented their ideas. Oh, but I do. I just think we should go further. I question their commitment to these principles. We must go further. And that is why 76% of doctors must be fired immediately. Look at this religious bigot spreading his wicked faith to this poor, sick African child.
I dated a doctor once and it was fascinating hanging out with her friends from Medical School. They’d all gone into totally different specialties. And yet, everyone was very clear which one was the hardest.
As a pediatric oncologist, you get to see kids who through no fault of their own got dealt cancer at a young age. And you subject them to chemotherapy and surgery and radiation therapy. And then, in spite of the best medical knowledge available, many of them die.
How on earth do you cope with that?
Well, it turns out that many doctors cope by being religious. You can read about that here. It’s one thing to be a scientist in a lab all day removed from the front lines of the failures of science. It’s quite another to be a doctor and have to run up against the limits of scientific knowledge every day. Perhaps then, it’s no wonder that my ex was a practicing Catholic. In fact, I suspect that it was because she was a practicing Catholic that she was drawn into a job that comes with less and less financial reward, more and more threat of malpractice suits and a society that is less and less respectful and grateful of their contributions. The majority of people who graduate from schools like Harvard these days go into finance (31% as of 2014) you have to have some other motivation to go into a field like medicine or education. I’m not religious. In fact, the best description of my feelings on the question of God are that I’m an apathatheist. I feeeeeeeel like God if he/she/zir exists can take care of him/her/zirself. Mostly, I care about fixing things on Earth. I feel like God is mostly a huge distraction from Earthly matters. And yet, I know that while I work with children, they have very fixable problems like an F in Algebra. I am not a pediatric oncologist. If I had to see child after child die every day then maybe I’d need the community that a church or a temple or a mosque provides much more. Either because doctors are drawn to the profession or because the profession requires faith as a coping mechanism, 76% of doctors are religious and 59% believe in some sort of afterlife. And yet, they’re also medical doctors. They practice science. How do the two co-exist?
Well, that brings us back to our friend, the Orthodox Jewish medical doctor:
For those of you who have read The Paleo Manifesto or listened to our first interview with John Durant on The Bryan Callen Show, you know that much of Kosher food practices are actually early forms of germ theory. Separate out your plates. Don’t eat pork which caused trichinosis. A warning which persists to the modern day: beware of shellfish. Such food practices exist around the world. There’s halal in the Arab world which takes much of Kosher practice. And Joe Henrich in The Secret of Our Success talks about Fijian fish taboos. There are certain species of fish like eel that are taboo for Fijian women during pregnancy. These are the species that give women the highest risk of ciguatera toxin. Here’s Joe on that:
“Little is known about the effects of ciguatera toxin on fetuses, though we know that pregnant women have reduced resistance to toxins, and I found cases in the medical literature showing that fetuses can be highly disturbed by ciguatera poisoning. Like other toxins, it seems likely that ciguatera can accumulate in mother’s milk and endanger nursing infants. For adults, ciguatera poisoning results in death in a small percentage of cases. While you have probably never heard of ciguatera toxin, it’s the most common form of fish poisoning and creates a health problem for any population that routinely consumes tropical reef species.”
To simply ban certain kinds of reef fish for pregnant Fijian women or pork and shellfish for Jews and Muslims may seem extreme. In fact though, we still do something very similar:
Why take the risk?!? It’s just not worth it.
Of course, a medical doctor knows that kosher food practices don’t make total sense in light of germ theory. And yet, if you take to highly educated Orthodox Jews, many of them are clear that keeping kosher isn’t about food hygiene anymore. It’s about belonging. It’s a sacrifice they make to strengthen their sense of belonging to a community.
It’s incredibly strange that someone who doesn’t go to church, doesn’t belong to any religion and has no desire to belong to a religion should have to defend religious people from people who are supposedly skeptical atheists and scientists. In fact though, skepticism is about thinking critically. It’s about being discerning. It is foolish to tolerate everything but it is equally foolish to be blindly intolerant of old cultural practices and some people’s belief in God. In the end, it takes wisdom to know the difference.
If you’re a pediatric oncologist, then I have no idea what it takes to get through your day. If you want to believe in God and the afterlife, then I think that’s pretty understandable. What I don’t understand is how anyone could not eat baaaaaacon!!!
Like my friend Nicole Gomez, I am a foodie. Nothing gives me greater privilege than getting Angelenos to break their food rules. I’ve given bacon communion to vegans, vegetarians and Modern Orthodox Jews. However, bacon communion should be consensual. I wouldn’t require it of the entire medical community.
In the end, I agree with Big Mike. Agnosticism is the only truly intellectually honest position on the question of God. And if people want to tip one way or the other, then that’s fine. But Fundamentalist foolishness of any flavor will be ridiculed by me…mercilessly.
The Dutch learned religious tolerance after a series of brutal wars. The fooooooooolish Founding Fathers believed in religious tolerance. Why? Because most of what religious fights are about is different symbols.
Should we really be fighting about symbols?!? Or should we focus on living our own principles more fully? Should we practice what we preach.
Listen to Barry White and we’ll have the best idea sex humanity has ever had.
Meanwhile, pay attention to the man behind the curtain. The show is just getting started.
Love to all humanity – Toto