During my sojourn in ironclad atheism, the primary arsenal leveled against Christianity had been its failure on empirical grounds. Surely, enlightened reason offered a more coherent cosmos. Surely, Occam's razor cut the faithful free from blind faith. There is no proof of God; therefore, it is unreasonable to believe in God.
I have sat with countless patients and families to discuss grim prognoses: It's one of the most important jobs physicians have. It's easier when the patient is 94, in the last stages of dementia, and has a severe brain bleed. For young people like me - I am 36 - given a diagnosis of cancer, there aren't many words.
The diagnosis was immediate: Masses matting the lungs and deforming the spine. Cancer. In my neurosurgical training, I had reviewed hundreds of scans for fellow doctors to see if surgery offered any hope. I'd scribble in the chart 'Widely metastatic disease - no role for surgery,' and move on. But this scan was different: It was my own.
The tricky part of illness is that, as you go through it, your values are constantly changing... You may decide you want to spend your time working as a neurosurgeon, but two months later, you may want to learn to play the saxophone or devote yourself to the church. Death may be a one-time event, but living with terminal illness is a process.