I really wish Collins had kept this to himself: over at The Washington Post’s “On Faith” site, Francis Collins explains why he is “Praying for my friend Christopher Hitchens”. It’s nice enough, as far as it goes, but Collins explains–as Hitchens already has–that “as the Director of the National Institutes of Health, I am in a position to be aware of new developments in the diagnosis”, and that gives him an edge in sussing out new treatments for Hitchens’s cancer.
Yes, it’s great of Collins to go to bat for a famous atheist. But why the public pronouncement in the Washington Post? It’s almost as if Collins wants people to see what a fine fellow he is. Such acts of magnanimity and generosity are best kept private, especially if they’ve already been reported by the recipient. It’s okay for Hitchens to write about it, since he’s documenting his treatment, but it’s best for the benefactor to remain silent.
But there’s another reason for the piece: Collins likes to use any excuse to do a little Jebus-touting:
Over these last few months, we have not talked directly about faith. He [Hitchens] knows that I am praying for him. But my prayer is not so much for a supernatural intervention – as a physician I have not seen evidence for such medical miracles in my own experience. Instead I pray for myself and for Christopher along the lines of James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” And I then give thanks for the chance to share in a deepening friendship.
I’m not sure what this means, but I hope Collins isn’t praying for Hitch to see the light and ask God for wisdom.