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  #1  
Old 17 December 2007, 10:34 PM
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Default Did an Atheist Ever Found a Hospital?

We attended Mass last night at our parish church. The (Catholic) priest delivered a sermon that was generally interesting and well-argued, but at one point, while discussing the idea that religion can be a force for good in the world, he indulged in a rather bizarre swipe at atheists:
Quote:
No atheist ever founded a hospital.
We're sure he must be wrong, but we can't instantly think of any atheists who founded a hospital. We can't think of any individual religious people who did, either, although we are familiar with a few hospital-founding groups (the Shriners, Sisters of Mercy, various cities and counties, etc.)

Does anyone know of an individual, definitively an atheist, or an explicitly atheist organization, who was heavily involved in founding at least one hospital? I would love to bring this up to the priest after Mass next week. Random swipes like this really detract from the service, not to mention from his credibility.
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  #2  
Old 17 December 2007, 10:38 PM
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You could put the burden of proof on him and ask for cites.
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  #3  
Old 17 December 2007, 10:45 PM
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Andrew Carnegie was a great philanthropist, but I'm not sure about hospitals. He gave a bunch of dough for the Broome County Library, which I've used often.

Quote:
Witnessing the sectarianism and strife in 19th century Scotland regarding religion and philosophy, Carnegie kept his distance from organized religion, eventually coming to identify himself as a positivist. He held much hope for humanity in what may be termed an atheistic and humanistic view on life, shaped also by the Scottish values with which he was raised.
ETA: Jawaharlal Nehru and Olof Palme, as heads of state, technically could have "founded" a public hospital, yes?

Last edited by Mateus; 17 December 2007 at 10:59 PM. Reason: ETA2: cite for Carnegie quote
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  #4  
Old 17 December 2007, 10:51 PM
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So I'm guessing that Margaret Sanger might not cut much ice with a Catholic priest...
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  #5  
Old 17 December 2007, 10:58 PM
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Okay, here's one - Stephen Girard:
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In 1793, there was an outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia. Although many other well-to-do citizens chose to leave the city, Girard stayed to care for the sick and dying. He supervised the conversion of a mansion outside the city limits into a hospital. For his efforts, Girard was feted as a hero by the City Hall after the outbreak subsided.
His atheism isn't specifically touched on in the article, but Wikipedia lists him as one of their famous confirmed atheists. Pending confirmation, he looks like a good prospect.
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  #6  
Old 17 December 2007, 11:00 PM
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There are quite a few hospitals in China and Russia built on communist orders. Albania is officially an atheist state but has hospitals. Garibaldi sponsored several hospitals.

Several of the godless heathens won the Nobel prize for medicine so perhaps they are not all baby eaters :-)

Blues
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  #7  
Old 18 December 2007, 07:36 AM
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Quote:
There are quite a few hospitals in China and Russia built on communist orders. Albania is officially an atheist state but has hospitals. Garibaldi sponsored several hospitals.
Sweden has separated the church from the state, and our public hospitals are plenty and of high quality.
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Old 18 December 2007, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan With a 'Y' View Post
So I'm guessing that Margaret Sanger might not cut much ice with a Catholic priest...
Considering she was in favor of eugenics-based forced sterilization, maybe not such a good way to convince anyone of the goodness atheists can do.
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  #9  
Old 18 December 2007, 08:48 AM
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The whole statement and question of whether "an Atheist has ever founded a hospital" seems to be a total non sequitur to begin with but, to play along, I'd like to mention that there are a few countries in the world (Japan being one) where being an "atheist" is the default and majority view. So yes, many many hospitals have been founded by atheists. And what is that supposed to prove? That atheists can do good things or that atheists are good for at medical business or what? You'd have to be caught up in the idiotic "Atheist vs Theist" mindset that much of the western world is in now to think that this question is meaningful in any way. (For the record, I've never founded a hospital. I've never even lost one. )
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Old 18 December 2007, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
Sweden has separated the church from the state, and our public hospitals are plenty and of high quality.
And they are not run by the state but by the counties.
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  #11  
Old 18 December 2007, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
And they are not run by the state but by the counties.
Correct. Which probably means that in Jönköping, it's founded by religious people...

On the other hand, if you see "state" as opposed to "private", they are still run by the state.
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  #12  
Old 18 December 2007, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
No atheist ever founded a hospital.
So that's why they're always named after saints then...

(apart from Charing Cross and that's got a cross in it)
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  #13  
Old 18 December 2007, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
So that's why they're always named after saints then...

(apart from Charing Cross and that's got a cross in it)
The one that was in Swindon ( before they knocked it down) was called "Princess Margaret Hospital". I don't think she was a saint.
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  #14  
Old 19 December 2007, 01:42 AM
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This might be one:

Gates' bounty goes to waste in Nepal

Kathmandu, Dec 4 (IANS) A maternity hospital built in southern Nepal with the assistance of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has not been in use even four years after its completion due to the government's failure to appoint doctors, state media reported Tuesday.

Too bad...
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  #15  
Old 19 December 2007, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoitoider View Post
This might be one:

Gates' bounty goes to waste in Nepal

Kathmandu, Dec 4 (IANS) A maternity hospital built in southern Nepal with the assistance of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has not been in use even four years after its completion due to the government's failure to appoint doctors, state media reported Tuesday.

Too bad...
But are Bill and Melinda atheists?
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  #16  
Old 19 December 2007, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post
But are Bill and Melinda atheists?
That's why I said 'might'. Don't know about Melinda; found a couple of excerpts about Bill that actually make him sound agnostic:

http://www.celebatheists.com/index.php?title=Bill_Gates

Quote:
Frost: I sometimes say to people, do you believe there is a god, or do you know there is a god? And, you'd say you don't know?

Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don't know if there's a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.
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  #17  
Old 21 December 2007, 02:01 PM
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I just have to throw this out, but, there's this canadian "hero", who practiced medicine in Detroit for a time, until getting kicked out because he'd take things in trade for medical services other than money.

Dr. Norman Bethune. I've often heard he was an athiest,

Now I don't know if he himself founded any hospitals, but as far as humanitarianism goes, I think he proved himself very devoted to it in his lifetime, between his time spent in spain and china, and even helping to get the canadian government thinking about public healthcare. He also did a lot of work developing methods of treating wounded in wartime, including how to transport blood. and was recognized as a great man by Chairman Mao. I've been told his also the only non-chinese man mentioned in the little red book.
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  #18  
Old 21 December 2007, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
So that's why they're always named after saints then...

(apart from Charing Cross and that's got a cross in it)
Th Royal Free and The Royal Marsden both founded by William Marsden, a young surgeon who conceived of a hospital to which the only passport should be poverty and disease; where treatment was provided free of charge to any destitute or sick person who asked for it. Can't find any info about his reglious leanings but I think the fact that there aren't any references to his religion means he was just a normal kind of guy.

You can be the founder of a hospital simply becuase to want to see an end to suffereing, religion has nothing to do with it.

Remeber it's God who causes all the desease and suffering it takes the compasion and smarts of human beings to set things right
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  #19  
Old 21 December 2007, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FullMetal View Post
Dr. Norman Bethune. I've often heard he was an athiest,
Don't know about atheist specifically, but he was a Communist (at least, he joined the Communist Party; there is some dispute as to whether he actually believed in the principles), so it seems plausible that he was an atheist.
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  #20  
Old 21 December 2007, 04:47 PM
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Well, here is the reply from American Atheist.

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In America, as of 1999, 13% of all hospitals were religious (totaling 18% of all hospital beds); that's 604 out of 4,573 hospitals. [6] Despite the presence of organized religion in America, the Church has managed to scrape together only a few hospitals. Of these 604 hospitals many are a product of mergers with public, non-sectarian hospitals. Not all of these 604 hospitals are Catholic; many are Baptist, Methodist, Shriner (Masonic), Jewish, etc.

Despite the religious label, these so-called religious hospitals are more public than public hospitals. Religious hospitals get 36% of all their revenue from Medicare; public hospitals get only 27%. In addition to that 36% of public funding they get 12% of their funding from Medicaid. Of the remaining 44% of funding, 31% comes from county appropriations, 30% comes from investments, and only 5% comes from charitable contributions (not necessarily religious). The percentage of Church funding for Church-run hospitals comes to a grand total of 0.0015 percent. [7]
Quote:
Of the 13% of religious hospitals, all of them are maintained by public funds. Those public funds are not paid for exclusively by the religious, they certainly aren't supported by American churches. If the religious hospitals were to be truly religious and separated from secular governmental subsidies they would collapse. The question that the Christian apologist should be asked is, "Where are all the truly religious hospitals?" Slapping a Catholic or Methodist label upon a hospital wall isn't sufficient enough to create a truly independent, private religious hospital free from Atheist support.
James Powell
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