Arnaud Dumouch, 2005,

Table of the Stories

 Translation: Alain Quenneville

professor Vanthouse, scholar and atheist

Or how a man was saved by his atheism




Luke 7, 41-43 “ Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. "

Professor Honoré Vanthouse, a celebrated psychiatrist, intervened in 1988 as an expert on the French television channel TF1. On the dais, invited as a person on whom a miracle had been worked at Lourdes stood Jeanne Frételone. Accompanying her was Father Rogue, a priest who had been a very unintentional actor in this healing miracle, which had occurred and subsequently authenticated by the Church in 1950.

The surgeons, having determined the resumption of the intestinal cancer that had been sucking the life out of her for the last three years, had undertaken the removal of a major portion of her bowel. The last X-rays had left her with no hope. Metastasis, had generalized the cancer. Father Rogue recounted how Jeanne arrived at Lourdes unconscious and weighing 23 kg. Out of desperation her parents had put her on the sick train to Lourdes: « Dying to die, that she dies in Lourdes ». Once there she was put in a front row at the grotto for a mass for the sick. Father Rogue, a celebrant, took a line of stretchers to distribute communion. And, barely had he deposited a very small piece of  the Host on Jeanne's lips that she woke up.

And Jeanne continued the tale: « I woke up. I was in front of the grotto of Lourdes. I felt two strong hands straightening me up. However there was nobody there. I suddenly felt a terrible hunger. The young lady who held the canteen gave me a bowl of café au lait, then a second. They drove me to the medical office: my intestine had grown back. The colostomy had closed, as in a flash of lightning, and in two months, I had doubled my weight. »

The program went on with a critical dialogue on miracles. Professor Vanthouse commented in a learned tone: « I respect Jeanne's sincerity. I’m not calling into question here her word or her sincerity. However I would like to speak about a word in an absolutely medical sense and that shouldn’t be confounded with its common acceptance. The word is « hysteria ». Professor Charcot tells of similar stories. One day he had a woman who had been paralyzed for 20 years brought up in front of his students and, in an authoritative tone in this amphitheatre cried out: « I order you, get up and walk » In front of their eyes, she got up and walked a few steps. Now…that is hysteria. »

The father Rogue then spoke: « Dear professor, I respect science and its progress. However, in the case of Jeanne, there is a big difference when comparing with Charcot‘s cases. There, for substance, was miracle as in “a resurrection from the dead”. Nothing is made out of nothing. And, where did the intestine come from? The X-rays are there. What made this organ reappear instantly, in a flash of lightning where one by surgery had ceased to exist »

Professor Vanthouse answered with a small ironic smile: « I want to see ».

After the program, the professor went home well satisfied and happy with himself, to have once more confounded irrationality. He never did go to see the X-rays. Useless he had thought: at best this case would be prolonged and exaggerated, at worst, the X-rays would be falsified.

For a long time, he had held firm in his beliefs on this question of God. All those were but juvenile superstitions. He was and would remain atheistic for several absolutely rational reasons: cosmology, evolution of species and especially the absurdity of life, suffering, and injustice. This world was obviously the result of chance.

In 2003, having become professor emeritus, he had accepted State honors and was made an officer of the Legion of Honor. He then gradually sank into an easy old age. He wasn’t afraid of death, having more or less thought of it as sleep that was longer than the others. Then, realizing cancer had struck him; he decided he didn’t want to extend a well-filled life. So he prepared his own medicinal cocktail and quietly fell asleep easy, encircled by his children. 

Surprisingly, and just after his death, he woke up. His surroundings were as quiet as he had wished, and he was still holding his children. His daughter held his hand. He began telling himself that he had really made a big mistake in his dosages, a thought he quickly dispelled as he observed his body, but…from the outside.

What does a convinced atheist experience when he dies and realizes somehow he exists and invisible? What does a scoffer of irrationality feels when he meets a ghost? Simply surprise. And he tells himself in conclusion… there are mysteries in this material world.

Professor Vanthouse wasn’t at the end of his surprises, his capacity to read in the thoughts of other people, an “impossible mythical ability” (his quote), which he had fought in his rationalistic circle came back to haunt him. The wittiness of Heaven, wanted to bring its revelations home little by little. For a time he was allowed to notice his new state, attend his funeral without receiving any visits from heavenly beings. But right now he had enough to think about; beginning with his ability to read what others thoughts, an ability he had fought and vouched (in his words) as “impossible and mythical“

 As one might expect, the ceremony was civil, accompanied by a really touching speech by the mayor of Paris. He spoke of a career dedicated to Science, truth, and the fight against superstitions. Professor Vanthouse felt a bit embarrassed when, faced with the first overwhelming proof of the limits of his struggle.

But the surprises were far from over. In a fragment of Heavenly wit, an Angel chooses to appear to him in a most amazing fashion. He showed himself in an absolutely baroque form… a bright young man endowed with two splendid wings, covered with feathers… His body shone like a blinding whiteness, resembling the blade of a double-edged sword reflecting the sun his fine slender traits neither masculine, nor feminine. Now every one knows angels don’t have body but appear under a form suitable to the circumstances. And nothing could have prepared our Professor for revelations who, far from being rational, were going to plunge him into the world where God is childlike, where the queen of Heaven is a Virgin mother.

" Honoré ", says the angel looked at him, smiling.

Honoré Vanthouse was perhaps an atheist, but was far from being stupid. He really had seen. And it was not a hallucination. What he had seen had pierced its soul up to its depth.

There is no sense here to rehash events that followed: The passage towards heaven, Christ’s appearance, the procession of saints and angels, Lucifer, and Professor Vanthouse’s choice between love and selfishness. What is definite it is that, at the time when judgment was pronounced, the professor Vanthouse had become the small child he had been 80 years earlier, a kind of blockhead full of goodwill and wish to like.

 I just necessary to bring back part of dialogue he had with his angel:

- But why, Professor Vanthouse asked… why didn’t you appear to me on earth? I would have believed right away…

- But, you did… Don’t you recall Jeanne Frétel?

- It’s isn’t the same. There were so many people who saw UFOS… then the people on whom a miracle has been worked at Lourdes…

- So tell me, Honoré had you seen, with your own eyes, an angel feathered wings and all appearing, wouldn’t you have, from your dais, taught it was a hallucination?

- Yes I would have.

- God chose to leave you in your atheism in order to save you.

- Atheism leads to salvation then?

- Atheism by itself no: but when atheism produces humility and love at the end of life. God lets you, during all your life, make use of the treasure of your intelligence to construct grandiose theories on how the DNA of living beings just happens to self organized, where left alone, the worms of earth over a million years or so, began to see light with two eyes, where love and freedom were in fact molecules. And, all at the same time, you qualified the story of the Lord of Heaven born of a fairy tale Virgin as preposterous. You know, you were very amusing to watch from where we stood.

-It's true I screwed up… but why?

- Your humility. Now tell me Honoré, answer my question " There was a certain creditor who had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? "

Respected answered: " I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. "

The angel says to him: « You have rightly judged, all your life, you were a respected scholar, rich in gifts from God. And you used them to fight the faith of humble people. However, you founded your theories on arguments that a child by his very nature wouldn’t believe. When, on the day of your death, you were received in such as state as you were, that did you do?

- I acknowledged my faults.

- And what did God do?

- HE received me.

- So, in view of your admission and God’s forgiveness uniting to create a great love which will one day open for you the Vision of God by beholding Him face to face.


That's how professor Honoré Vanthouse was saved and after a time in purgatory, he entered Heaven with the title, he had requested for eternity, from « sage whom God made mad », according to Saint Paul

« Because it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent»

Matthew 9, 6

Luke 7, 41

Corinthian 1, 1, 19