Perhaps one of the more famous Christians-turned-atheist is author A.N. Wilson, who wrote biographies of people like C.S. Lewis & Tolstoy, as well as the “demythologizing” Jesus: A Life. In this morning’s Mail Online, he writes,
For much of my life, I, too, have been one of those who did not believe. It was in my young manhood that I began to wonder how much of the Easter story I accepted, and in my 30s I lost any religious belief whatsoever.
Like many people who lost faith, I felt anger with myself for having been ‘conned’ by such a story. I began to rail against Christianity, and wrote a book, entitled Jesus, which endeavoured to establish that he had been no more than a messianic prophet who had well and truly failed, and died.
Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity?
He blames the anti-Christian attitudes of Britain for much of his loss of faith, which “lends weight to the fervour of the anti-God fanatics, such as the writer Christopher Hitchens and the geneticist Richard Dawkins, who think all the evil in the world is actually caused by religion.” He discusses some of these attitudes, then writes,
For ten or 15 of my middle years, I, too, was one of the mockers. But, as time passed, I found myself going back to church, although at first only as a fellow traveller with the believers, not as one who shared the faith that Jesus had truly risen from the grave. Some time over the past five or six years – I could not tell you exactly when – I found that I had changed.
When I took part in the procession last Sunday and heard the Gospel being chanted, I assented to it with complete simplicity.
He then goes on to explain in part why he began to once again believe – and it is not perhaps what you would think, unless you understood the true nature of Christianity, as celebrated in Easter. He concludes the article with
Materialist atheism says we are just a collection of chemicals. It has no answer whatsoever to the question of how we should be capable of love or heroism or poetry if we are simply animated pieces of meat.
The Resurrection, which proclaims that matter and spirit are mysteriously conjoined, is the ultimate key to who we are. It confronts us with an extraordinarily haunting story.
J. S. Bach believed the story, and set it to music. Most of the greatest writers and thinkers of the past 1,500 years have believed it.
But an even stronger argument is the way that Christian faith transforms individual lives – the lives of the men and women with whom you mingle on a daily basis, the man, woman or child next to you in church tomorrow morning.
Christ is risen indeed! There is hope; but then, some of us already knew that.