Vaclav Havel, Christopher Hitchens, and Kim Jong Il

On the death of Kim Jong Il, one wit tweeted that he liked to think that God had let Havel and Hitchens decide who would be the third one to go. That’s funny, but if ideas have consequences, and they do, then there are a few other considerations.

We often say, when someone passes away, that they have “gone to their reward.” But given atheism, what is that reward exactly? It is exactly the same for Havel, Hitchens, and Kim Jong Il. All three have now entered into nothingness, which is to say that, given atheism, there are no rewards for anything — good, bad or anywhere in the middle.

Havel was an anti-communist hero, Hitchens was a courageous but infidel journalist, and Kim Jong Il was a murderous and genocidal thug. They all graduated from this class called earth, and they all got exactly the same grade. Is that justice?

Well, no, the atheist could reply. He grants there is no justice after this life. He might add, somewhat lamely, that this is why it is so important for us to work for justice here and now.

Okay, I’ll bite. Let’s work for justice here and now because there is no justice in the universe? Nothing ultimately matters and so we must redouble our efforts to act like it does? All things are meaningless, and so we should make sure this thing here is meaningful? This is like maintaining that all triangles have three sides, except for this one here in my personal life, which has five, and which I find comforting. For people who put so much stock in “reason,” you would think they would spend a more little time meditating on what deduction actually entails.

Think of it this way. Every day of his life that passed, Kim Jong Il was one day closer to getting away with everything. In the Christian universe, the day of his death was the day of his final capture and arrest. When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes (Prov. 11:7, ESV). The day comes when his life is required of him (Luke 12:20). But in the atheist universe, the day of his death was the day of his final and irrevocable escape.

This should not be a difficult truth to grasp, but sometimes God points straight at it so that we might stumble over our normal evasions. The mortality rate here on this planet is 100 percent, just like a century ago. Nothing about that has changed. Nothing unusual happened to Vaclav Havel, Christopher Hitchens, or Kim Jong Il. It is just that these three deaths, in this proximity, make us think about what we should be thinking about all the time. It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment (Heb. 9:27).

But if there is no judgment, as some maintain, then we should make our peace with that, and stop being so judgmental now. Kim Jong Il was just one more case study to be filed by some relativistic anthropologist under “Different Strokes.”