Monday, April 27, 2009

Another Atheist Converts to Theism

Former atheist A.N. Wilson's "Why I Believe Again" appears here in The New Statesman. Wilson describes how he left Christianity for atheism, and how he has come back. He's a very good writer, and has some nice quotable sentences and ideas to ponder.

For example:

"My doubting temperament... made me a very unconvincing atheist. And unconvinced."

"But religion, once the glow of conversion had worn off, was not a matter of argument alone. It involves the whole person. Therefore 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. Attractive and amusing as David Hume was, did he confront the complexities of human existence as deeply as his contemporary Samuel Johnson, and did I really find him as interesting?" (Now that is funny...)

"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."

"For a few years, I resisted the admission that my atheist-conversion experience had been a bit of middle-aged madness."

"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. It is not that (as they believe) they have rumbled the tremendous fraud of religion – prophets do that in every generation. Rather, these unbelievers are simply missing out on something that is not difficult to grasp. Perhaps it is too obvious to understand; obvious, as lovers feel it was obvious that they should have come together, or obvious as the final resolution of a fugue."

"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."

"My departure from the Faith was like a conversion on the road to Damascus. My return was slow, hesitant, doubting. So it will always be; but I know I shall never make the same mistake again. Gilbert Ryle, with donnish absurdity, called God “a category mistake”. Yet the real category mistake made by atheists is not about God, but about human beings."