Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Mortal Life, Greensboro, NC

I recently ran across a quote by a noted critic of religion and self described “antitheist”, Christopher Hitchens, who died of esophageal cancer in December 2011. Hitchens contended that “once you assume a creator and a plan, it makes humans objects in a cruel experiment whereby we are created to be sick and commanded to be well”. This is indeed a very wry observation and worthy of a second reading. The Sunday Times described Hitchens as "usually armed with a glass of Scotch and an untipped Rothmans cigarette." In 2003 he wrote that his daily intake of alcohol was enough "to kill or stun the average mule". He argued, "The plain fact is that drinking makes other people, and indeed life itself, a good deal less boring”.

A true test of your convictions can rest in how you can handle critics that do not share your beliefs. If they can effectively change your mind, perhaps your convictions are quite shallow or quite wrong. Biblical references to sickness begin in Exodus 15 when God tells his chosen people that “I am the Lord, who heals you”. And many of the moral laws he gave them later were designed to keep them free from physical, emotional and spiritual sickness. In Matthew 4 Jesus demonstrated that he could heal all these forms of sickness to affirm his ability to restore the world and humanity to its original perfection and wellness.

In a Washington Post remembrance, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and former head of the Human Genome Project who helped treat Hitchens' illness, wrote, "I will miss Christopher. I will miss the brilliant turn of phrase, the good-natured banter, the wry sideways smile when he was about to make a remark that would make me laugh out loud. No doubt he now knows the answer to the question of whether there is more to the spirit than just atoms and molecules. I hope he was surprised by the answer. I hope to hear him tell about it someday. He will tell it really well.”

Hutchins was right in his assessment that every human being that ever lived was endowed with the sickness of a sinful nature--and a free will to exercise it. Many times life can seem like a cruel experiment, but I believe the experiment is designed to test our free will to attempt overcoming it while placing our trust in our creator to heal the sickness. And although we’ll never achieve perfection in this life, the effort alone in not acquiescing can make other people and life itself a good deal less boring!

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