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Atheist A. N. Wilson Returns to His Faith

Early in his career, many had hoped A. N. Wilson, a brilliant philosopher, would become the next C. S. Lewis. But as a young man, he began to wonder how much of the Easter story he accepted. By his thirties, he had lost all religious belief and publicly repudiated his Christian faith, becoming an atheist. He soon embraced the role of a harsh, cynical critic of Christianity and any faith in God at all. At one point he even wrote a book claiming Jesus was a failed messianic prophet (2004's Jesus). But on the Saturday before Easter in 2009, he wrote a shocking piece for London's prestigious newspaper, The Daily Mail, in which he shared his experience of participating in a Palm Sunday service. He writes:

When I took part in the procession last Sunday and heard the Gospel being chanted, I assented to it with complete simplicity. My own return to faith has surprised no one more than myself. Why did I return to it? Partially, perhaps it is no more than the confidence I have gained with age. Rather than being cowed by them, I relish the notion that, by asserting a belief in the risen Christ, I am defying all the liberal clever-clogs on the block. …
But there is more to it than that. My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known—not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in the light of the Resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die. …
Sadly, [the secularists] have all but accepted that only stupid people actually believe in Christianity, and that the few intelligent people left in the churches are there only for the music or believe it all in some symbolic or contorted way which, when examined, turns out not to be belief after all. As a matter of fact, I am sure the opposite is the case and that materialist atheism is not merely an arid creed, but totally irrational.
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.

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