Thursday, April 30, 2009

A N Wilson 'returns' - albeit slowly

In a recent edition of New Statesman, novelist and biographer, A N Wilson, explains why he has decided that his 'conversion' to atheism was a foolish mistake, and that he has come to realise that God, religion, spirituality, are the realities rather than the atheistic arguments. His coming back to faith has been slow and full of doubts, but he now believes he's on the right path rather than the wrong.

A few sample paragraphs:

My doubting temperament, however, made me a very unconvincing atheist. And unconvinced. My hilarious Camden Town neighbour Colin Haycraft, the boss of Duckworth and husband of Alice Thomas Ellis, used to say, “I do wish Freddie [Ayer] wouldn’t go round calling himself an atheist. It implies he takes religion seriously.”

This creed that religion can be despatched in a few brisk arguments (outlined in David Hume’s masterly Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion) and then laughed off kept me going for some years. When I found myself wavering, I would return to Hume in order to pull myself together, rather as a Catholic having doubts might return to the shrine of a particular saint to sustain them while the springs of faith ran dry.

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.

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