In a stirring memoir, written as he was dying of cancer, atheist apologist Christopher Hitchens, who, as far as we know, never changed his mind about God, wrote about the various stages of emotion that he felt as he came to grips with the realization that this disease was most likely going to kill him.
“To the dumb question,” he wrote, “‘Why me?’ the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?”
Why not? That’s about the best answer, if you want to call it one, that an atheist can conjure up regarding suffering and evil in this world. If there is no God, if the world is purely a chance creation, a happenstance confluence of just the right chemicals that could, over time, create contingent beings in a contingent creation that, in and of itself, is meaningless—“Why not?” is going to be about the best answer one could have.
What a contrast to hopeful worldview offered us in Scripture. Of course, evil happens. The Bible never downplays it. On the contrary, the Word of God presents some pretty sordid examples of evil. It just that we have the hope that one day it’s all going to be over, finished, and many questions answered. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).
Atheists, too, believe it’s going to one day all over as well. The universe is going to burn out, or explode, or implode on itself, and all life will be over. On the other hand, the Bible presents a radically different end: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).
This is a hope, it seems, that poor Christopher Hitchens never grasped, and instead in seeking for answers got only a “Why not?”