A Doctor’s Vacation II

September 7, 2021
Photo: Pixabay

“So God created mankind in his own image…” (Genesis 1:27, NIV).


We have made it our tradition to spend one week each year in a family vacation experience. This year we changed our vacation spot from Florida beaches to Pennsylvania hills with six adults and four grandkids. So, one day I found myself riding in a tour bus listening to the remarkable story of Milton Hershey, the founder of Hershey’s Chocolate and a follower of Christ. One remarkable action in his life keeps sweeping over me. Milton was deeply in love with his wife, but they were never able to have children of their own. In 1900, they began a boarding school to educate and develop trade skills for orphan boys. The school grew rapidly (now housing and training more than 2,000 boys and girls from low-income families, completely free). Hershey’s wife died as a young woman in 1915. In 1918, Hershey transferred almost all of his multi-million-dollar fortune to a trust that still funds the boarding school today.


Why should a brilliant and wealthy man sacrifice his personal fortune to help a group of orphan boys? What social evolutionary principle does this satisfy? Within what mechanistic, materialistic, accidental, scientific theory does it make sense for a great and powerful person to sacrifice for the weak and vulnerable? If it doesn’t make sense, it must be foolish. If it is foolish, why do I admire it so?


I once had a web-based discussion with an atheist leader who had written an article entitled, “Why I Would Never, Ever Want to Be Dr. Weir’s Patient.” I asked him a question regarding Mother Teresa. “Why is she universally admired for spending all of her time caring for the dying? What atheistic worldview can explain that?” He had no answer and just spewed anger. He voiced pride in following his fellow atheist, Bertrand Russel’s, understanding of life:


“That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins–all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand….”


I cannot fit the man, Milton Hershey, or the woman, Mother Teresa, into that supposition. A godless science can explain material facts but cannot yet explain beauty, truth, justice, honor or sacrificial love. And these are the values that make life worth living, and I suspect these are the values that were imprinted in us as the image of God.


Dear God,

Help me to see that life does not make sense without you.


Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.

Leave a Comment