Early this morning, I only had to answer my phone this morning to be reminded of death.
The new irony in writing this article is that it will be published in the midst of new travel plans to attend a funeral.
True, my now-deceased relative did not die because of some great evil in the world.
She died of old age and systemic infection.
My family can find solace in the thought she lived to a “ripe” old age and our shared belief in eternal life of the soul, long after the physical death of the body.
But in the interim, we will only have pictures and memories.
By coincidence I began this morning reading a tribute to Christopher Hitchens written by his friend Richard Dawkins, who said, “Every day of his declining life [Hitchens] demonstrated the falsehood of that most squalid of Christian lies: that there are no atheists in foxholes.”
Ah...the “no atheist in the foxhole” quip is indeed a popular cliché, surely offensive to the staunch atheist.
The clear implication of the expression is that as death approaches, the atheist loses his or her nerve and “hedges the bet” via deathbed conversion.
But the point is, nobody really wants to be in the foxhole, do they?
Like the soldier on the battlefield facing imminent death, the dying atheist is speculated to suddenly want to believe in an afterlife, chucking a lifetime of conviction for a desperate, last-second grasp at eternity.
Case in point: philosopher Anthony Flew.
The only problem with belittling Flew’s conversion is that wasn't about to die when he began to believe in a deistic God.
Flew died six years after the fact, causing a few atheists to assert that he simply must have lost his mind first.
Unfortunately, Christians are not immune to making false claims about deathbed conversions, the most famous "case" being that of Charles Darwin.
In his memorial to Hitchens, Dawkins brashly wrote,
Leave it to the religious to mewl and whimper at the feet of an imaginary deity in their fear of death; leave it to them to spend their lives in denial of its reality. Hitch looked it squarely in the eye: not denying it, not giving in to it, but facing up to it squarely and honestly and with a courage that inspires us all.
Frankly, that’s both patently untrue and somewhat offensive.
Personally, I prefer to "spit into the face of Time, that has transfigured me" while still accepting that my fate will be no different than yours, at least not as far as the living organism we call the human body is concerned.
But Dawkins’ false claim was not the most squalid of atheist lies.
Nor is his insistence that my God is an imaginary deity.
His point is moot at best.
We need only read headlines to see clear proof of evil in the world…
Obviously, we have rather clear evidence of mindless, vicious, almost pure evil running rampant in this world.
These were but a few headlines randomly culled from the most recent stories in the news.
My ongoing argument has been that as humans, we’ve only achieved very limited, temporary success being “good” with God.
It simply isn’t human nature to be good. We are all capable of good deeds and great evil.
We have been granted the free will to choose between them.
King David was probably the greatest of Israelite kings, but he fell into evil and abused his power.
He lost favor with God in the process.
After David committed adultery with the wife of his soldier and had the man essentially murdered by combat with the enemy, the prophet Nathan confronted him.
David had chosen poorly. He knew God was real, but it didn't stop him from doing evil.
Are some atheists nice people? Certainly.
Is an atheist capable of doing good deeds? Absolutely.
Does doing a good deed make you a good person?