Charles Krauthammer ruminates on God, Israel, and the accident that left him paralyzed

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By Mark Ellis —

Krauthammer (left) and Hewitt
Krauthammer (left) and Hewitt

He is the independent-minded neo-conservative commentator with an authoritative manner that may appear brusque to lesser mortals. His trenchant analysis of America’s place in the world has won him numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize.

A tragic diving accident as a first year medical student left him with an injury that altered the course of Krauthammer’s life, but never impeded his accomplishments.

“I had a diving accident actually in a swimming pool right on the grounds of Harvard Medical School, off the diving board, my third dive of the day and hit the bottom with my head,” he told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt in a wide-ranging interview conducted November 19th probing the depths of all-things Krauthammer.

“And my head wasn’t hurt at all. I didn’t even have a scratch. But it severed my spinal cord, and I was hospitalized for 14 months,” he recounted.

Krauthammer refused to give in to a depressed outlook after the accident.

“You can be hopeless and despairing, or you can live your life. And to me, there was basically no option,” he told Hewitt.

Shortly after the accident, the dean of the medical school came to his beside, and said he would be happy to give him a leave of absence for a year or two.

“If I take a leave of absence, I’m never coming back. And I will be lost,” he told the dean. “This will turn disaster to ruin. So give me a shot. I want to stay with my class.”

Administrators acceded to his request and let him study at night for 14 months while he convalesced.  He took his exams orally, “because it took me a couple of years to relearn how to write.”

His religious views

Krauthammer has Jewish roots, went through a bar mitzvah as a young man, but maintains a mostly secular outlook that caused him to critique intelligent design theory as “tarted-up creationism.”

“I’m not the first to say it. I don’t believe in God, but I fear Him greatly,” he says. At the same time he admitted to Hewitt a “complicated view of deity.”

When it comes to theology, Krauthammer’s unlikely muse is Einstein. “And not to in any way compare myself to Him, but if I had to, I’d have to say to compare to whose theology do I have the most affinity? I would say probably Einstein,” he noted.

“Einstein had this sense of this fantastic mystery lying behind ordering and creating beauty in nature. I mean, he was so struck by the elegance of nature, his ability to put the ultimate mysteries of science into a single line, E=MC2, indicates a kind of harmony in the cosmos which cannot be accidental, or cannot be sort of unwilled in some sense.”

Then does the critic of intelligent design allow room for the ultimate designer? “He (Einstein) said things, for example, in his rejection of quantum mechanics, he said God does not play dice with the universe, meaning he refuses to accept the physics that depends on probability. That’s not how God works. And he had this sort of reverence and awe,” Krauthammer observed.

“The other analogy I would use is what Newton used to describe the capacity of the human mind,” he continued. “He said our ability to understand is about akin to that of a snail on the shore of an ocean trying to work out the tides through physics. And that, to me, is our position vis-à-vis understanding the workings of the universe, and the wonderful mysteries, awesome, I mean, literally awesome mysteries…that lie behind it.”

Krauthammer finds it difficult to embrace traditional religion.  “I have enormous respect for it, and in some sense, I’m not a terribly religious Jew, but I follow some of the rituals, and I do attend on the important days. But when it comes to the relationship to what is out there, to me, it is rather complicated and mysterious,” he noted.

A worldview with no God leaves Krauthammer cold.  “Of all the theologies or anti-theologies, I think atheism is the least plausible of them all. It’s not only the irrationality, but it’s the coldness, the soullessness of atheism that strikes me. But as to what lies on the other side, I’m the snail on the side of the ocean. I don’t even presume to even be able to begin to understand it. All I know is that it’s far beyond me, and it deserves reverence and awe.”

Visit to Holy Land was impactful

With respect to Israel, Krauthammer opposed the Oslo accords and supports a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict.  “You really have to go to Israel to understand it. I went two years ago, and I went into the tunnel next to the Western Wall, which I think may be the most sacred space on the planet.”

When Krauthammer stood on Mt. Scopus in northeast Jerusalem, he felt a connection with God. “You look out on the Judean desert, and you can almost feel what it would have been like to be out there for the 40 years. You can feel the spirituality, the connection with the Transcendent that must have occurred in those places.”

“It is a most astonishing experience to be at that crossroads of the world where all of these great spiritual events happened, and how the three great religions are all centered on that one space as sort of the center of the intersection of the Divine and the human.”

 

If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here

13 COMMENTS

    • Most people believe in God, even the atheist do (why else would they hate it so much, when Christians talk about God) before I became a Christian I dated an atheist and he knew there was a God (it was easier to say there wasn’t a God, so he had no one who held him accountable for anything) I always knew there was a God. But knowing there is a God and living your life as God tells us to live are two different stories. Although I knew there was a God, if something had happened to me and I died I would of gone to hell. There are plenty of people who know that there is a God but because they have not repented and asked Jesus into their hearts they will be spending eternity in hell

  1. Krauthammer is an amazing human being. Everything he says not only radiates an intelligence of the highest order but a profundity of soul. However, I have always thought Einstein’s remarks on God as a protean romanticism. The God of Einstein may not play dice with the universe, but plays dice with the fates of men, even in its indifference to their affairs. A universe in which Dachau and Treblinka are part of its happenings should never be perceived as a beautiful universe. I would have expected our brilliant Krauthammer to be in accord with Pascal who writes of the universe:
    “Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature; but he is a thinking reed. There is no need for the whole universe to take up arms to crush him: a vapor, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But even if the universe were to crush him, man would still be nobler than his slayer, because he knows that he is dying and the advantage the universe has over him. The universe knows nothing of this. –

  2. This is so refreshing to see the great and mighty Charles Krauthammer fearful of something. He is afraid to admit that he does not believe in gods.

  3. I love Charles Krauthammer and agree with him on everything except on religion. I have never given much thought to religion or brought up with any religion. I always thought just as Krauthammer that it was just something we could never understand. I don’t feel that you can fear something unless their is a reason for fear. I know that when my daughter died that my feelings changed greatly and things began to happen that I know was not just any ID. I not only changed for the better but I learned that there is a reason for everything. Choice is a very important aspect of our life and I choose God as the reason. I have felt the Holy Spirit in me and everything in my life now involves a conscious choice.

  4. It’s true! When Charles Krauthammer speaks, the people listen. Thanks so much Mr Krauthammer for your efforts to inform me and the entire world. We need the truth smack dab in our faces and you have such a wonderful way with words. You spoke to us this evening about obamas real plan for the U.S. and it’s role in the middle east. I know in my heart you spoke the truth. If you ever get the chance, please read the book of revelation in the new testament. The prophecies in the old testament and reiterated in the new are all coming to pass, and you are part of its history and it’s future. Thank you! May the true God, our creator, bless you and give you peace.

  5. Is this the same Kruthhammer who is one of the signatories to the New American Century’s plan to invade Iraq, initially presented to Bill Clinton who rejected the notion, until “Dubya (George W. Bush)” pursues to remake idea post 9-11? Hm.

  6. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Krauthammer’s political views, although I will remain a committed, traditional Christian till they cart me away. One of the reasons why I moved to a more traditional faith in young manhood was recognition that there is a lot of mystery out there. For now, when I muse on all the troubles of this world, I’ll take God’s “Where were you [Job] when I laid the foundations of the earth?” as a respectable answer.

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