A. N. Wilson was once a Christian, but “converted” to atheism, rubbing shoulders with Dawkins and Hitchens and others. but now he has started to believe again. Why? He mentioned several reasons in this article, “Why I Believe Again.” It really is worth your time to read it.
He mentions watching people die, including his mother, and becoming convinced that purely materialists explanations for human existence do not work. He also explains that his atheist friends seem like people “who have no ear for music, or who have never been in love.” But one of the crucial steps in moving away from unbelief was a book on Nazi Germany:
I havenâ€™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 Hitlerâ€™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 Bonhoefferâ€™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 Bonhoefferâ€™s serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.
That is powerful. But don’t stop with his article. The New Statesman has a Q&A with him too, and he reveals another fascinating aspect of this journey. They ask: “What’s the worst thing about being faithless?” Wilson:
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.
Reading Northrop Frye and Blake made me realize that their world-view (above all their ability to see the world in mythological terms) is so much more INTERESTING than some of the alternative ways of looking at life.
Did you catch that? The music of Bach brings to bear a deeper view of life. Something to ponder about our own church experiences and whether they are cultivating a deeper and wiser and more rounded view of life.