From Christian to Atheist & Back Again.

My attention was drawn today to this rather stunning piece on Atheism & conversion in The New Statesman which you can read for yourself here.

Its author is A. N. Wilson, an English writer and newspaper columnist, known for his critical biographies, novels, works of popular history.

In the early 1990s, Wilson stated publicly that he was an Atheist and published a pamphlet Against Religion in the Chatto & Windus CounterBlasts series; however, religious and ecclesiological themes continue to inform his work. He claims to have lost his Christian beliefs while working on his 1990 biography of C.S. Lewis. For nearly 20 years he continued to be both a sceptic, and a prominent atheist. It was during his period of nonbelief that he wrote biographies of Jesus, St. Paul, and a history of atheism in the 19th century entitled God's Funeral, the latter describing the growth of atheism as due to combination of many influences ranging from David Hume to Sigmund Freud. These and many other of his books such as those on Leo Tolstoy (Whitbread Award for best biography of 1988), C. S. Lewis, Hilaire Belloc are all simultaneously sympathetic to and critical of religious belief. However, in April 2009, he published this and other articles in The New Statesman and Daily Mail affirming his rediscovery of faith, and conversion to Christianity, attacking at the same time in the Daily Mail article both academic and media Atheists. Since that time, Wilson has published Dante in Love (2011) presenting a study of the great Italian poet, Dante Alighieri, as an artist and philosopher, also depicting an in-depth portrait of medieval Florence to help readers understand the literary and cultural background which engendered the Tuscan's masterpiece, The Divine Comedy.

The article states:
Watching a whole cluster of friends, and my own mother, die over quite a short space of time convinced me that purely materialist "explanations" for our mysterious human existence simply won't do - on an intellectual level. The phenomenon of language alone should give us pause. A materialist Darwinian was having dinner with me a few years ago and we laughingly alluded to how, as years go by, one forgets names. Eager, as committed Darwinians often are, to testify on any occasion, my friend asserted: "It is because when we were simply anthropoid apes, there was no need to distinguish between one another by giving names."
This credal confession struck me as just as superstitious as believing in the historicity of Noah's Ark. More so, really.
Do materialists really think that language just "evolved", like finches' beaks, or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally? Where's the evidence? How could it come about that human beings all agreed that particular grunts carried particular connotations? How could it have come about that groups of anthropoid apes developed the amazing morphological complexity of a single sentence, let alone the whole grammatical mystery which has engaged Chomsky and others in our lifetime and linguists for time out of mind? No, the existence of language is one of the many phenomena - of which love and music are the two strongest - which suggest that human beings are very much more than collections of meat. They convince me that we are spiritual beings, and that the religion of the incarnation, asserting that God made humanity in His image, and continually restores humanity in His image, is simply true. As a working blueprint for life, as a template against which to measure experience, it fits.
Please do read the whole thing though, it is very well written!


  1. Excellent! the mention of Freddie Ayer reminded me of his near death experience, when he confided to his physician that " I saw a Divine Being. I'm afraid I'm going to have to revise all my books and opinions." As an aside my friends and I used to love attending the lunch time debates at St Mary Le Bow.


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