Spotted on my Facebook feed

From a high school acquaintance:

“So I’m excited to announce to the Facebook world: I passed my first Histology exam!!! I never knew I could be this excited about a C. Thanks for all who supported me and prayed for me. God is so good.”

You know, maybe you would do better in your veterinary school classes if you spent more time studying than praying.

Seriously, if God really is the reason that some students were doing well, they should be expelled. A supreme deity isn’t enrolled in school, you are. If they’re altering your grades, that’s cheating.

The sad thing is I’ve heard so many stories about uber-Christian/creationist vet students from some of my friends in vet school. The young earth creationist who hounded me at Darwin on the Palouse and wouldn’t give up the microphone? Vet medicine grad student at Washington State University. Talk about someone who needs to be put in a remedial evolution class.


  1. Treppenwitz says

    A professor at my university polls her intro biology students after they finish the course’s evolution unit. About half of them deny evolution each semester. These are primarily biology majors.

  2. eigenperson says

    At least they’re not treating humans.

    Also, apparently Histology is so hard that even God can’t get an A on the exam.

  3. Jon Fingas says

    If you want to be accurate, technically it was friends praying, not the person in question (although I’m sure they did). So we don’t know if this person was praying five times a day or once in a blue moon.

    Theologically, many of these people would argue for the “God helps those who help themselves” point of view, so it wouldn’t necessarily be using God as a substitute for one’s own work a much as a possible lift. Either way, it would mean this person wasn’t necessarily trying hard…

  4. notscarlettohara says

    Speaking as a vet student, that makes me sad. Really, really sad. I mean, evolution is the whole reason a career as a vet is even *possible*. If it weren’t for evolution, we’d have to spend 4 years learning to be dog doctors. Then another four years on cats. And maybe 2 for rabbits, if you’re into that. I don’t even want to think about the poor people who do zoo medicine. Consider, if you will, the beautiful explanation a professor gave for the strange anatomy of CN XI: “Fish don’t have necks.” Since then, I’ve never forgotten its course. OR, the left recurrent laryngeal nerve, whose insane anatomy causes a pretty big problem for a number of racehorses. A direct quote from a classmate of mine about trying to remember where it goes and how it develops: “AARGH! This design is so stupid! I mean, I know it’s not designed, but… AARGH!” Really? You still believe in creationism after learning about *that*?!

    And as for vets and homeopathy… *sigh* All I can say in my profession’s defense is that most vets I personally know that prescribe it, do so more to treat the owners than to treat the pets, and always do so alongside real medication. People say the placebo effect can’t affect an animal, but sure as hell can affect the person *observing* the animal…

  5. ambassadorfromverdammt says

    It’s the difference in the scales being used. (like farhenheit and celcius). God’s omniscience = C on the Histology exam.

  6. says

    I was a bored lazy high school student. The night before every exam was spent praying super hard that God would help me get an A on the exam so I could pass with a C or higher.

    And miraculously, I would get an A.

    Except I left out that I also crammed like hell that night. And one time I slacked off in studying because I had so much faith in God and I got a B. God truly does work in mysterious ways.

    Also, in senior year I made a agreement with the Lord to give him credit for all my academic successes, and I once mentioned to a teacher that I had to give God credit for my A. “So God gave you the answers? So you cheated on the test?”

    I don’t remember how I explained my way out of that one.

  7. Desert Son, OM says

    I used to think that Physicians


    Scientifically Astute Critical Thinking Skeptics

    But I was young and naive. Lately I’m older and naive.

    In part it was wishful thinking (yay! magical thinking!), because I really wanted that to be the case in my father. My dad’s a physician . . . and big-time believer in god (specifically of the Christian variety, Episcopalian sub-division). On one hand he understands that a material, observable, testable procedure can successfully replace a damaged joint structure with a titanium substitute in a manner so as to restore significant mobility to a human hip after a period of recovery and rehabilitation.

    On the other hand, he thinks a mythical resurrected craftsperson from the Roman Imperial Levant had something to do with successes in such efforts.

    It’s been a psychologically stumble-filled road for me to realize that Discipline Dependent Upon Scientific and Skeptical Critical Thinking

    does not necessarily mean

    Discipline’s Practitioners Will Be Scientific and Skeptical Critical Thinkers.

    Still learning,


  8. mcbender says

    I’ve been thinking about this, and I’ve been wondering a few things… in particular, what mechanism do they suppose god would use to actually answer such a prayer? I can think of three at present:

    (1) God could manipulate the student’s mental state to add knowledge or trigger memory

    (2) God could manipulate the professor’s mental state during grading to cause the student’s answers to receive higher grades than they merit

    (3) God could alter the nature of reality to make it consistent with the student’s answers

    All of these are rather interesting propositions. (2) is equivalent to cheating. (1) entails that god is evil. How so? you might ask. Well, if god is capable of manipulating mental states to that degree, then clearly he hates me and many other atheists and wants us to go to hell, because he would be perfectly capable of answering the prayers of the countless believers I’ve pissed off who said they’d pray for god to reveal himself to me. Since god has not altered my mental state, I conclude that if he exists, he wants me in hell, and that in and of itself makes him evil. (3) is awfully arrogant for the student to ask for, and again… if god is capable of answering such a prayer and does so, then once again the problem of evil rears its ugly head.

    I can’t think of any other mechanism by which such a prayer would be answered, and all of the above three suggest rather unsavoury things about the person making the prayer, as I’ve explained in detail above and trust I need not elaborate further.

    What do you think?

    M.C. Bender

  9. julian says

    God truly does work in mysterious ways.

    Of course. He had to teach you never to slack on your studies.

    Such is God’s way!

  10. mnb0 says

    When I ask my pupils – I teach maths and physics to 12-16 year old kids in Moengo, Suriname – to solve a problem on the blackboard they often say “Oh God!” or “Jesus!” In Surinamese it sounds even better: “Gadooooohhh!” or “Jesuuuuuussss!” I never can let the opportunity go to tell them that they won’t help them and that they will have to rely on their brains. Somehow they succeed almost always.

  11. Jeffrey says

    you forgot the option, that my particular portion of the Jewish faith goes with (it may only include me, tho), Personal Prayer is a method of meditation, that focuses the mind, in a way that is unknown by people who don’t practice some form of calming procedure. I have seen the same affect caused by sitting in lotus, yoga, going to a fitness center, and other forms of mind and/or body focusing and it works for some people. I have also seen what is called “mass consciousness” “”effects”” (air quotes in air quotes there) that appear (key word before these parenthesis) to have a result. I don’t know if that works or not, but if someone chooses to ask friends to send a beach boys song (good vibrations) their way, shouldn’t you be as tolerant of that as you as us people of faith to be of you?

  12. eigenperson says

    If they die from some disease due to terrible veterinary care, they probably don’t end up in the human food chain.

    But yeah, considering that these people don’t believe in evolution, letting them attempt to do science or medicine of any kind is probably a bad idea.

  13. mcbender says

    Ah. In your case, then, prayer is a form of meditation, and not really prayer. What you describe is a method of focusing the mind, which (I’ll be charitable here) may have benefits and may well improve one’s score on an exam, but if it does so, that improvement will have nothing to do with the supposed god. Sorry. Nice try.

    If you’re going to suppose “effects” by which people can meditate/pray and affect physical reality, I say show me the evidence. Nothing in the peer-reviewed scientific literature suggests such things are possible, and there is no plausible mechanism which would explain such things if they did occur. I’d be happy to acknowledge such things if there was a shred of evidence in its favour, but such claims are consistently debunked by Randi and the like.

    As for your cry for “tolerance”… there is no inconsistency between “tolerating” people and thinking that they are wrong and that what they believe is stupid (let’s leave the imaginary friends behind in childhood, please). I respect your ideas enough to engage with them, and take them seriously enough to think it’s well worth discussi why they’re wrong: what more do you need?

  14. FrauKartoffel says

    Ugh. Reminds me of my coworker (we work as engineers) who said that God works miracles after our most recent project went well. I know I’m preaching to the choir here but I’d rather work hard on something and have it turn out well than just pray over it.

  15. says

    “If they die from some disease due to terrible veterinary care, they probably don’t end up in the human food chain.”

    Then perhaps it’s sort of important that their patients don’t get sick?

    Sorry, but it gets a little tiring to constantly see remarks like “at least they don’t treat people” and “well you’re not a *real* doctor”. We are real doctors (better, if you consider that we have to know everything an MD knows except add a half dozen [at least] species-specific differences in pharmacology, anatomy and physiology) and what we do is every bit as important as “human medicine” and has a great impact on human health.

  16. annie says

    That was my thought too. If “god is so good”, why didn’t he cough up an A? The saddest part of this all is that the student is not taking credit for her own learning. The only place for god in this scenario is: “God, I should have studied harder.”

  17. eigenperson says

    Jeezus christ. Well, sorry I pushed your berserk button by pointing out that veterinarians do not, generally, treat humans. I’m not sure how you turned that into “veterinarians aren’t real doctors,” or worse, “veterinarians don’t know anything about medicine”. But if it makes you feel better, I’ll go ahead and say that obviously those are both false.

  18. nemothederv says

    “God is Great”
    How Original.

    I’d really like to hear more from people who believe in god and think he sucks.

    You’d think someone who received a C from him would fit that category.

  19. says

    eigenperson: You weren’t simply pointing out a species difference, your comment made a clear judgment regarding the importance of vets (“At least they don’t treat humans.”) and displayed your ignorance about the importance of veterinary medicine on human health. If pointing that out is going “berserk” I’m cool with that.

  20. Caelan Aegana says

    I kinda suspect the whole divine intervention thing may have a LEEETLE more to do with the fact that WSU is in Pullman than the fact that they’re in vet school. There’s a reason we (and I include my own hometown in this assessment) refer to E Washington cities with names like “Spokemanistan.” Christian fundamentalists and evangelists (the uber scary skinhead survivalist types) have a strong foothold here.

    I do grant, however, that as WSU has the only veteranary school in the state, this point may not be valid as my childish stereotyping would like it to be.

  21. Rumtopf says

    A couple of the vets I used to work for used acupuncture. They would push for it in all older arthritic patients. :/

  22. Rumtopf says

    An absolute rampage!
    With great points. Thinking about zoonotic diseases and antibiotics from a creobot perspective, here: Whaddayamean bacteria and parasites evolve to cross species barriers, and to become AB resistant? Nonsense! A little super toxic e.coli never hurt anyone. B)

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