Over on Slate, there is an essay entitled "In Medicine We Trust." The subtitle is "Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?" Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit had linked to the article. Like him, I find myself saying "Oh Good Grief". Is this the end game for Western thought and especially humanism? "We can't have missionaries keeping people alive because hey people might start believing in God, especially the Christian one."
This essay really bugs me for a number of reasons. It is amazing the amount of self-critical awareness the article lacks.
If you think about it:
(1) the writer would rather have suffering Africans have no medical care, then missionaries doing their best but not having ideal amounts of funds. (I am kind of borrowing on Margaret Thatcher's great line the liberals would rather the poor be poorer so long as the rich aren't rich).
Think about it if you are genuinely starving, you'll take a poor meal from a kitchen with a "C" on a health inspector rating, then no meal because it's not a "A".
(2) the writer makes the assumption that there is some sort of artificial way to separate values and morals from the practice of medicine. As if when you are non-religious you can practice a sort of value-neutral approach to medicine. We all would agree both Christians and non-Christians have consciences--things are ALWAYS going to impact your conscience. No one is objective. Yet this article seems to assume the non-religious can be more objective in the practice of medicine which is philosophically naive at best. [if you are not a Christian, ok, but one should be a little more self aware (at least be aware of the critique of postmodernism against neutrality and objectivity)]
(3) The person doesn't want to see Christians proselytize. Fair complaint. But why is it assumed that anyone saying "I do this because I believe in God's love" is inherently manipulative? If you follow the writer's logic, offering any type of hope (something metaphysical outside of scientific and/or emotional) to people in trouble would be manipulative. What is really motivating the author's opinion is unbelief which they use to leverage the charge of "manipulation".
The writer might as well say: "I don't want those suffering to get medical care if they might end up converted". Are we really saying "I don't want people to get help AND LIVE if they are going to become a Christian (which I reject as untrue)." If you are truly a humanist wouldn't your first priority be to keep people alive, even if you feel the need to counter what you believe is a lie? At least the people would still be alive, albeit "misled".
(4) The author seems blissfully unaware of the impact the rise of Christianity had on medical practice and the development of health care in the first centuries and beyond.
(5) How many times is the critique of Christianity that it cares about heaven and not people's suffering (not really a fair critique if you look at Christianity's history). Now when people are actually helping keep people alive, we can't have that.
Just curious but has anyone suggested hidden racism in keeping Africans from getting help?