Thursday, January 6, 2011

Doubting atheist

It seems that A.N. Wilson has returned to faith in God after a long battle with atheism. Although it may be difficult to see quite why Wilson found atheism so compelling in the first place, other than the usual difficulties of religion such as doubt, dryness, faintness of heart etc, he offers some useful insights into what attracts people to atheism. A large part of it for Wilson seems to have been the satisfaction gained from being a 'born-again atheist', the 'complete certainty' of the atheist creed and the 'heady sense of being at one with the great tide of fellow non-believers', and for the first time in his life at ease with his contemporaries. What stands out in Wilson's account is a peculiarly English donnish propensity to denounce anything faintly mysterious as 'nonsense'. He dates his slow journey back to belief in God from his recognition of the failure of materialist atheist explanations of complex human experience, for instance, of love and music:

'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.'

But what really seems to have clinched it for Wilson are the dangerous moral consequences of making man the measure of all things:

'I haven't mentioned morality, but 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.'

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please do not make rude or abusive comments. They will be removed. Thanks.