Perhaps not since Madalyn Murray O'Hair and Carl Sagan has there been such an "evangelical" atheist as Christopher Hitchens, the writer and social commentator who died last week after a long and public battle with esophageal cancer.
Hitchens railed against those who believe in God. While an original writer, and smart, there was nothing original about his unbelief. Such views have been expressed since the dawn of humanity. They have also been answered by some of the wisest people who have ever lived. There is a difference between "smart" and "wise." As that Scripture in which Hitchens disbelieved says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10)
I have always found atheists to be interesting people because they just may be the world's smallest minority group, one that gets smaller still as its members pass on and meet God face to face. Still, atheists demand physical proof of God's existence, as if they could bring God down and make Him into their image. What kind of God would that be? He would be their equal and, thus, not God at all.
Evidence, alone, has never moved anyone from unbelief to faith. If proof were enough, all of the unbelieving contemporaries of Jesus (and Moses) would have believed in God because of the miracles they performed. Two people presented with exactly the same information can respond in opposite ways. Faith is not based solely on facts. It is a gift from a God who exists.
Hitchens wrote a book called "God is Not Great." It's a clever title, but how would he have known, since they had not been properly introduced?
C.S. Lewis, once an atheist and thus conversant with the subject, wrote after his conversion, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
Some people exist, however nervously, believing that this life is all there is. The late singer Peggy Lee put the result of such faith this way: "Is that all there is? If that's all there is to life, then let's break out the booze and have a ball, if that's all there is."
Why contribute to charity, or perform other good deeds? Without a source to inspire charity, such acts are sentimental affectations, devoid of meaning and purpose. If survival of the fittest is the rule, let only the fit survive. That was the sentiment of Ebenezer Scrooge before his visitation by those three spirits and his subsequent transformation. Let the poor and starving die, he said, "...and decrease the surplus population." Who is to say such a notion is wrong without a standard by which to judge wrong.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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