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 he was 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).
Atheists demand physical proof of God’s existence. But 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.”
An atheist will tell you he doesn’t need God in order to be good, or perform good works. Maybe not, but the very notion of “good” must have both a definition and a definer. “Only God is good,” said Jesus (Mark 10:18).
Who is the author of evil? And if God is nonexistent, why do we call it evil? Is one person’s evil another person’s good? Scripture warns, “The fool has said in his heart ‘there is no God’” (Psalm 14:1).
In this season when many celebrate the object of their faith, there is no joy in the death of one who had faith that God does not exist.
As for the atheists still with us: Christmas is a reminder there is still time to believe and receive the ultimate gift.