Atheist welcomes prayers for his health

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 14, 2010

Christopher Hitchens has cancer and doctors have told him it has metastasized. Hitchens, a bestselling author and a contributing editor of Vanity Fair Magazine, has written, “In whatever kind of a ‘race’ life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist.”

Hitchens, 61, has been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. In this author’s article about his diagnosis and treatment, he says, “I have more than once in my time woken up feeling like death.”

What makes his comments and reactions to his illness interesting is that Christopher Hitchens is an atheist. He regularly debates his belief with well-known speakers who present the case for Christ.

Hitchens acknowledges his terminal battle with cancer and the “brilliant and selfless physicians” helping him fight the disease, along with “an astonishing number of prayer groups.”

“Atheists affirm there is no God. Yet they cannot hold this position dogmatically. For us to be able to make this type of statement with authority, we would have to know the universe in its entirety and to possess all knowledge,” writes Josh McDowell. Psalm 14:1 reads, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.”” I cannot comprehend how someone can face life or death without a belief in God.

“Ultimately, faith is the only key to the universe. The final meaning of human existence, and the answers to the questions on which all our happiness depends cannot be found in any other way,” states Thomas Merton. Dr. Peter Kreeft, a professor at Boston College, has said, “Gratitude is the most awful moment in the life of an atheist. He feels thankful, but he has no one to thank.”

Reading about Christopher Hitchens reminded me of C.S. Lewis, an atheist who experienced a dramatic conversion to Christ. Biographers say his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, had discussions with Lewis about Christianity.

Of the more than 40 books he wrote, Mere Christianity, published in 1952, ranks as a classic. The book is a collection of radio broadcasts Lewis delivered during World War II. In it, Lewis presents an eloquent, undeniable case for believing in Christ.

“Now that I am a Christian I do not have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable; but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.” He went on to say, “When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all.”

In his writings, C.S. Lewis states, “Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.” And, he said, “At Bethlehem, God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God.”

When Hitchens was asked in a recent CNN interview if he appreciated people praying for him, the atheist said, “Yes,” and that often these were people whom he had debated “and think that in some way some bits of me are worth saving. I take that kindly, of course.” I pray he will believe John 3:16 and realize everyone is worth saving.