Friday, December 16, 2011

Death of a Champion for Atheists

Christopher Hitchens, noted author, essayist, intellectual and, as some described him, “the public face of atheism,” has died at the age of 62. Cause of death was reported as pneumonia, a complication of esophageal cancer.

Whenever anyone dies, it raises questions both about the life they lived and the life – if any – that comes after. Hitchens, to his dying breath apparently, stridently maintained his conviction that there is no God and that this life is all there is, so “make your last days the best ones.”

I never read any of Hitchens’ books. For the first 30 years of my life I lived as a practical atheist, even though I attended church and had an intellectual belief in God. So I never felt a need to read why someone like Hitchens was so convinced of his disbelief. I had been familiar enough with my own.

But it’s interesting that he wrote, “I’m an unbeliever who believes in skepticism. I’m only sure about being unsure.” In that light, it logically follows that if, as Hitchens believed, the end of life is indeed the end of everything, then he has no conscious knowledge of it. But if he was wrong in his disbelief, now he truly knows.

Commenting on Hitchens’ death, Joel Siegel of ABC News stated, “Critics assumed his cancer diagnosis, in 2010, would lead Hitchens to repent and embrace God. But he remained a proud non-believer to the very end….”

That is a very telling observation, because pride is probably the greatest obstacle to belief. Pride resulted in the original sin, as both Eve and Adam essentially concluded, “Just who does God think He is to tell us we can’t eat the fruit of that tree?” And it’s pride to this day that keeps many people from humbling themselves to acknowledge God, then asking themselves the penetrating question, “If there is a God, what does He expect of me?”

Psalm 14:1 makes this bold declaration: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” If that is true, Mr. Hitchens now knows for certain.

What I know for certain is, as Israelite leader Joshua said thousands of years ago, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) 

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