Christopher Hitchens is one of the most outspoken atheists today and author of the best-selling book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Francis Collins is a world re-known scientist with a strong Christian faith, noted for his leadership of the Human Genome Project and his best-selling book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Faith.
The Telegraph, a newspaper based in Great Britain, reported on an unlikely bond of friendship and trust between these two very different people. Even so, a March 2011 newspaper headline announced, "Atheist Christopher Hitchens could be 'saved' by evangelical Christian." The article went on to report, "The two had often met in the past as adversaries in the debate about whether God exists. Against the odds they [have] become friends." This improbable friendship started because Hitchens, a cancer patient, became part of an experimental treatment program that involves genome sequencing. Doctors plan to map Hitchens' genetic makeup so they can target and treat his damaged DNA. It just so happens that this experimental treatment is being pioneered by Dr. Francis Collins.
Hitchens has spent years blasting religious faith and religious believers. In his book There Is No God, he argues that "Organized religion is violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry …." But when asked about his friendship with Dr. Collins, Hitchens spoke with only respect and admiration. "It's a rather wonderful relationship," he said, "I won't say he doesn't pray for me, because I think he probably does; but he doesn't discuss it with me."
What an interesting story … God does work in mysterious ways.
Sources: Matt Woodley, managing editor, PreachingToday.com and Richard Alleyne, "Atheist Christopher Hitchens could be 'saved' by evangelical Christian," The Telegraph (3-26-11).