In Doc We Trust September 22, 2008

In Doc We Trust

Atheist Michael Aquino is going to be a father soon and he recently delivered a “Godless sermon” of sorts at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines.

What exactly does that entail?

Here’s what he said:

For the past eight months we’ve put our health and happiness in the hands of one person. Our OB GYN. Dr. Lylah Reyes has the power of life and death over us. Our devotion to her is absolute, almost like a cult. Because Dr. Reyes is not an easy master to please.

Every week she demands to know what my wife is eating. How much weight she’s gained. How her blood pressure has been. How her blood sugar is doing. If we’ve been good, her smile makes us glow for the rest of the week. If we’ve been bad, we pay for it with a couple of expensive days at the hospital.

Our obedience to Dr. Reyes bends the odds in our favor just a tiny bit. Once upon a time we might have resorted to prayer, but studies have shown statistically that prayers make no difference at all. It takes people like Dr. Reyes to make all the difference in the world.

I believe we live in an indifferent, uncaring universe. I believe this life is all we have. Some religious people might say this view is nihilistic, that it demeans the significance of our lives. To me that means just the opposite.

It means that goodness, compassion, and mercy are all human attributes, not divine ones. So when I am grateful for my blessings, I am grateful to people like Dr. Reyes, and not to some being out there who takes all the credit for the good things ordinary people do.

It’s amazing that God gets so much of the credit for what regular people actually do.

And if more sermons were like this, you might even see some atheists in the pews…

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Amen.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.


  • I’m not sure why you’d want to go. Also, I believe statistics show that religious people do live longer and happier lives. “Docs,” on the other hand, offer Prozac.

  • mikespeir

    It means that goodness, compassion, and mercy are all human attributes, not divine ones. So when I am grateful for my blessings, I am grateful to people like Dr. Reyes, and not to some being out there who takes all the credit for the good things ordinary people do.

    Couldn’t have said it as well myself.

  • Hemant – Hahaha I love the title of this blog entry; I wish I thought of it first. Thanks for linking it!

    Pastor Mike – atheists could just go to a Unitarian congregation instead, like I do.

    Properly understood, doctors don’t just “offer Prozac” – they offer a realistic look at your state of health and as much consolation as the situation entails (YMMV depending on your doctor’s competence).

    Case in point: Dr. Reyes is always very honest with her assessment and pulls no punches. When we found out about the high BP and high blood sugar, she laid out exactly what to expect in a worst-case scenario (when it’s your baby’s life and your wife’s health on the line, it’s not nice to hear at all!). The message was starkly clear – it was up to us to make sure we pulled through all right, and we could trust her medical training to help us get there.

    Maybe statistically religious people feel happier overall, but I’m happy enough trusting people and science instead of Jewish sky zombies, thank you very much.

    – Mike Aquino

  • Most UU sermons (in my experience) are like this, and that’s exactly why there are so many atheists there….

    At any rate — very well said, Mr. Aquino.

  • Extremely well said! This is an example of how freeing and delightful it is to be an atheist:

    …goodness, compassion, and mercy are all human attributes, not divine ones.

    A thousand times, yes! Thank you for sharing this.

  • John

    Pastor Mike,

    I would like to know what research has shown that religious people live longer happier lives. Research has also shown that the more religious a state is, the higher the crime and divorce rate.

    Besides, even if your statement was true, the fact that religious people are happier than unbelievers is like a drunk man being happier than a sober one.

    Does your “Doc” offer you Prozac all the time? If he does, the problem might actually be… you?

  • max

    honest and true.

  • Tim Bob

    why would i go to church as an atheist to hear that when i have friendly atheist that i can read things like that on in the comfort of umm my office at work sipping hot coffee listening to hardcore music deciding where i want to go for lunch. silly silly people.

  • Congratulations Michael. Having never been a church goer I can’t compare your sermon to that of a typical religious speaker but the sentiment in your is certainly one I’d support. Professional who help people, whether they are doctors, nurses, firefighters, teachers or whatnot, deserve the credit for their actions. Deferring that credit to a supernatural entity does diminish the good work that these people do.

  • Beijingrrl

    My comments are not directed at this particular doctor. I think we need to be careful not to make gods out of space ghosts OR humans. Doctors are not gods. Do not blindly put your trust in one without doing your own research. Doctors are not gods. Their knowledge is based on averages, probably of a demographic you don’t even belong to, and you are a specific person and must trust some of your own instincts. Doctors are not gods. Even if you follow all of their advice exactly, they cannot guarantee a positive outcome. Neither can they guarantee a negative outcome if you don’t. Doctors are not gods. For all of the wonderful human qualities they possess, there are also some who possess dangerous human qualities which can be life-threatening. Doctors are not gods. They are people we hire for their expertise to help us make the best decisions we can about our health. That is all.

  • Dr. Reyes is not my god. I trust in her work precisely because of the evidence. Dr. Reyes is not my god. She and my wife grew up together, and my mother-in-law and her mother are good friends, so there are emotional ties of trust both ways. Dr. Reyes is not my god. Occasionally we question the basis of her decisions, then we consult the research and it checks out. Dr. Reyes is not my god. Our trust is still contingent on the results, coupled with a healthy respect for the law of averages. Dr. Reyes is not my god. Dr. Reyes is not my god. Dr. Reyes is not my god. That is all.

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