Christopher Hitchens Needs to See Empirical Evidence

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By Dan Delzell, Special to CP
October 13, 2011|9:17 am

Living in the Omaha community, I was intrigued by a comment which Christopher Hitchens made when accepting a "freethinker" award last weekend in Texas. In explaining his many travels he said, "I lack only the Dakotas and Nebraska, though I may not get there unless someone comes up with some ethanol-based cancer treatment in Omaha."

There it is! It's the obvious inconsistency in his atheistic philosophy and what he assumes to be a rational approach to his life. By bringing this inconsistency to light, I mean no disrespect to the man as a human being. His suffering is real. Anyone with an even ounce of compassion will feel sorry for what he and all cancer sufferers endure. Many Christians continue to pray for Christopher's physical healing as well as for a spiritual transformation in his heart and mind.

In order to understand the discrepancy in his thinking, we can compare his cancer to something even worse. Hitchens and others believe he definitely has cancer. I do too. The tests and symptoms prove it. In comparison, Christians believe that they definitely have "spiritual cancer" that is far more devastating in its consequences than other types of cancer. The symptoms prove it. The empirical evidence is strong. Destructive thought patterns and harmful behavior all back up the claim that man has the "cancer of sin" in his soul.

Millions of Christians have testified how faith in Jesus Christ has not only forgiven their sin, but also delivered them from themselves and their pernicious behavior. The empirical evidence is strong. Hitchens can point to some "professing Christians" who don't "walk the talk," but what about the millions of genuine Christians who do? What about all the hospitals, orphanages, and homeless shelters run by Christians which demonstrate what a changed life is all about?

This is where Hitchens goes askew. He mocks Christians for their faith in spite of their testimonies about how their "treatment" has cured them. Meanwhile, their testimonies and their lives are living proof of how Jesus Christ truly changes man's heart and actions toward others. While making fun of such faith and "fantasy," Hitchens himself admits that he would continue to seek out any treatment for his cancer that really works. Obviously, he knows that it won't be an "ethanol-based" cure. Nevertheless, he admits that he would try even a novel approach if it was likely to cure his disease.

During his speech in Texas he stated, "There is no absolute truth." Any yet, he seems to believe that he absolutely has cancer. He says he would travel to Omaha if a cure was available here. If there is no absolute truth, then how could anyone know if some "ethanol-based" cancer treatment or any other treatment was really effective? Here is how you would know. If the body gets healed and the cancer is gone, then the treatment worked. If the sinner begins to live a noble life rather than a selfish and mean-spirited life, then the treatment worked there too.

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There really is absolute truth. Christopher Hitchens experiences this to be true in many areas of life, including his physical condition. Suffering in the midst of cancer is very tangible. Death is absolute. Hitchens knows this because none of his family members or friends who have died have come back from the dead.

There remains One Person who is willing to be Christopher's friend who actually did come back from the dead. His apostles allowed themselves to be killed for their faith after they witnessed His resurrection. The empirical and historical evidence is conclusive. The changed lives of millions of believers prove the reality of God's grace through faith in Christ.

Christopher Hitchens doesn't have to come to Omaha to experience the healing grace of God in his soul. He can choose to become as open-minded toward Christianity as he already is toward any cancer treatment that has been proven effective. Without an open mind, no one admits that he absolutely needs to be healed in body or in soul.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb.
 

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