Saturday, May 02, 2009

Special Article: Why I Believe Again by A.N. Wilson


A few weeks ago, I sent an email out to our team members, asking them what changes they thought we could make to the blog to create a more useful resource.

One of our team members, Chad V., suggested that we include personal stories of those in the faith. He reminded me of how powerful a good story can be. After all, Jesus Himself spoke in parables or stories.

Although some of you may have heard already, A.N. Wilson, novelist and biographer, has renounced his atheism of twenty years and returned to belief in God.

In this article, Wilson writes of his interactions with fellow atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, as well as explains why he believes atheism and/or materialism to be incapable of explaining our "mysterious human existence."

Wilson writes:

"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." [1]


To read Wilson's entire story, click here.

An online interview with A.N. Wilson can be found here.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,

Chad A. Gross

Reference:

1. A.N. Wilson, Why I Believe Again, New Statesman, http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2009/04/conversion-experience-atheism, April 2, 2009.

6 comments:

Chad V. said...

Chad,

Thank you for putting this post out here. I truly benefitted from A.N.'s article on his personal transformation from religion to atheism to a slow path back to faith. There were 3 parts to the article that stuck out to me:

"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."

This paragraph to me seems like a great question to someone who supports the theory of evolution.

I have also experienced this quote in my own life:

"I am shy to admit that I have followed the advice given all those years ago by a wise archbishop to a bewildered young man: that moments of unbelief “don’t matter”, that if you return to a practice of the faith, faith will return."

There was a time when I faced doubts in my life about the existence of God and if He does exiist how or why does He love me? But instead of continuing down the wrong path to being totally consumed by the thought process of the world and giving in to Satan's flawed attempts to doubt my Creator, I kept the door partially open having a strong feeling that God would inevitably provide proof of His Presence. And of course He provides the evidence each and everyday!

I also found Wilson's response to a question about being faithless very interesting. I wonder how many other atheists fill the same way:

"The worst thing about being faithless? When I thought I was an atheist I would listen to the music of Bach and realize that his perception of life was deeper, wiser, more rounded than my own. Ditto when I read the lives of great men and women who were religious."

Chad said...

Hey Chad V. aka "The Other Chad:"

I am so glad you enjoyed the article.

I found Wilson to be opened and honest about his de-conversion and re-conversion. I agree with you- the points he made above were very, very thought provoking.

Regarding doubt, I too have gone through periods of doubt in my walk with God; however, I can honestly say that as I continue to study the evidence for the Christian God, and all the objections raised against Him, my faith is strengthened and I feel good about the truth that we strive to defend.

Doubt is a very, very normal feeling that everyone (not just Christians) experience. We must allow what we believe to rest upon that which is true, not just how we “feel.” Feelings can change from day-to-day, the Truth does not.

Great to hear from you Chad V. and hope all is well!

Godspeed

Randy said...

When I was a bible believer, I feared doubt. It was looked upon as sin to even entertain the notion that what we believed in could be false, or mythical.

As a former believer, I cherish doubt. Doubt is what keeps us safe and alive. It keeps us searching for evidence. Doubt holds nothing sacred except the process of exploration.

Chad, you said - "We must allow what we believe to rest upon that which is true, not just how we “feel.”" I submit that you do exactly what you say you shouldn’t do. I submit that what you believe is true, is actually just beliefs held firmly due to what you feel. I think if you examine how you "feel" about what you think you know (concerning your religion) you will see that you are very glad you believe what you believe. I, on the other hand, really do not care if evolution is true or not...if there is a God or not. I only want to know what is true. I have no emotion tied up in it. It does not make me happy to conclude that we evolved over millions of years, but it did make me happy to believe I was specially created by God.

So, who is most likely to ignore or rationalize evidence...the believer or the doubter?
The believer is the one who is glad he believes what he believes, and in most cases, can't imagine not believing in the future.
The doubter is open to where ever the evidence leads.

Chad said...

Hello Randy,

It’s nice to hear from you. If I implied anywhere in my comment that I “fear” doubt, it was my mistake. I actually believe doubt to be a very normal emotion that both believer and unbeliever experience. Doubt is experienced by numerous people in the Bible and I believe, when viewed in a healthy manner, it can be a very healthy thing to doubt one’s beliefs. I’m sorry that you were not encouraged to question your beliefs when you were a Christian.

I would never pretend, or even try, to know why you believe what you do. As I said in my comment:

“I can honestly say that as I continue to study the evidence for the Christian God, and all the objections raised against Him, my faith is strengthened and I feel good about the truth that we strive to defend.”

Regarding you comment about “who is most likely to ignore or rationalize evidence,” I believe we have been down this road before. Everyone (I repeat everyone) has a bias. All I can do is be as objective as possible. I must say that to believe otherwise is mistaken. But again, I repeat, I would never try to pretend to know why you believe what you do.

The most important thing to me, at the end of the day, is what is true? Hence the name TRUTHbomb Apologetics.

Bob, I can’t, and won’t try, to convince you of why I believe what I do. If you insist on believing that I am a Christian because it makes me “happy,” (or whatever reason) so be it. I will simply continue to do my best to learn, evaluate, and hold to what is true.

Take care my friend

Randy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
E.D. Mills said...

Randy,

I have found that in my experience, the result of questioning my belief has been a stronger faith. When I searched for answers to my questions I found that there was reason to believe Christianity that went far beyond feelings.

I do not believe that doubt is a good thing, but the scriptures teach that God uses all things in a believer’s life, both good and bad, and brings about beneficial results. For me, doubts were the instrument that brought me to deeper faith.

Though, I perceive doubt as something negative, even sinful, I do not believe that it should be feared, especially for a Bible believer, since the word teaches that Perfect Love casts out fear.

On the other hand, I do not see why doubt would be something to embrace and celebrate.
How can uncertainty (as “doubt’ is defined by Webster’s dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/doubt ) possibly “keep us safe and alive”? It seems illogical to take this statement literally; therefore I have to conclude that this phrase indicates something that you feel. It’s been my experience that doubt brings a lack of safety during times of uncertainty.

As for your final question, “So, who is most likely to ignore or rationalize evidence...the believer or the doubter?” If doubt keeps you “searching for evidence”, then you must be rejecting all evidence that you have in order to never come to a conclusion. Is the doubter, therefore open to where ever the evidence leads or is he simply insisting on going nowhere? If your search for evidence is a never ending process of exploration, then are you really seeking truth?

No one if void of emotion, so I suppose everyone is affected by emotions on experiences and perception of life. However, I think generalizations that one group or another is more or less subjective when it comes the influence of their emotions has on their effectiveness to evaluate evidence are unfounded.