Novelist and biographer A.N. Wilson gave a recent interview in New Statesman where he explained his return to faith from atheism. What exact kind of faith he has returned to is debatable - it sounds like theism or liberal Christianity - but the reasons for his disenchantment are fascinating.
Even though He say he struggled with the fact that “religious people aren't cool” and felt “embarrassment at being in the same gang as people whose views sound...absurd” it was the example of believers (in the broadest sense) that was one of the principle things that led him to abandon atheism as a way of life.
“I was drawn, over and over again, to the disconcerting recognition that so very many of the people I had most admired and loved, either in life or in books, had been believers...a life like Gandhi’s, which was focused on God so deeply, reminded me of all the human qualities that have to be denied if you embrace the bleak, muddled creed of a materialist atheist. It is a bit like trying to assert that music is an aberration, and that although Bach and Beethoven are very impressive, one is better off without a musical sense...When I think about atheist friends, including my father, they seem to me like people who have no ear for music, or who have never been in love”.
The example of believers stood out in more profound ways too “one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer’s serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to”.
I guess some Christians are cool after all.
Dawkins and Hitchens have issued a response...
Read the whole interview
Related posts: A Narrative of (Three) Surprising Conversions (pt 1)