Sent in by Atheist RN
I am an atheist nurse, and I can honestly say that one of the saddest things that I have witnessed my patients say is, “Why does God hate me so much to give me this illness?” There are numerous Christian apologist answers to this question, of which I am sure many of you can recite chapter and verse, but what I really want people to understand is why belief is so detrimental to the health of a patient. Many people really believe that God is punishing them for some past misdeed. They take this to heart, and often wind up doing more harm to their condition by adding this additional mental stress. Did you know that this is actually considered diagnosable as a “Religious or Spiritual Problem”? See the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-IV-TR, code V62.89).
Although some people do seem to get comfort from believing that God healed them, what about the people who never go into a remission? That is, a terminally ill patient. The preachers say, “Oh well, it’s God’s will, and we can’t know the mind of God”. Or worse yet, they say things like, “Your suffering is God reminding you of how Christ suffered for you”. Furthermore, how many times have we heard someone on television say things like, “Thank God I survived that terrible accident, I know my family was praying for me.” If someone else in that same accident died, I have to wonder why did that person die if they had people praying for them too? In other words, why did God answer one prayer and not another’s? I thought Christianity taught that ALL prayer is answered.
Interestingly enough in nursing school we had a lecturer say that it was wonderful that a new study says that prayer works! She cited a study by Harvard University which showed a 17% increase in healing by the group that was prayed for. http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/04.06/05-prayer.html (Note: this was the study, but I can not find the statistics that my teacher quoted here. In fact, this article says that the prayed for patients actually fared worse.) Aside from the fact that you can’t control all the variables in the study, I thought that this was a pathetic attempt to rationalize the so-called efficacy of prayer, especially since we were also told that placebos have a 33% efficacy. This means that prayer does not work as well as a sugar pill.
I really wish there were seminars out there to help non-believing nurses, and doctors, learn how to circumvent this mental torture which our patients go through. If anyone out there has any suggestions, I’d sure love to hear them.