Saturday, December 22, 2007

The New Atheism examined by the Free Church of Scotland's "The Monthly Record"

The whole publication available here.

As a former Anglican cleric whose faith was gradually whittled away by form-criticism, the philosophy of David Hume and the apparent success of science in explaining everything without reference to a Creator, and as one who spent nearly twenty years as an atheist including a brief spell as President of the National Secular Society, I was forced to re-examine the basis of my atheism, not least by the strident and increasingly unreasonable pronouncements of Richard Dawkins in his three most recent books....

A long correspondence with Tom Wright, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, led me also to reconsider the historical basis of Christian claims, in particular the resurrection of Jesus. And philosophers like the atheist John Earman, the Jesuit Thomas Spitzer, and Reformed Christians like JP Moreland, William Lane Craig and Paul Copan helped me break the power that Hume had exercised over my thinking for far too long. With the blinkers of unbelief thus removed, it was possible at last to re-evaluate my own past experience, and re-embrace (with greater understanding) the Christian faith.

Modern cosmology, in the light of Edwin Hubble’s work, and that of his recent successors, including Roger Penrose, Paul Davies, Frank Tippler and Stephen Hawking, forces us to reconsider the need for a doctrine of creation. And historical evidence for the resurrection forces us – if we are honest - to abandon the doctrinaire veto on miracles imposed by Hume and his successors, such as Russell, Ayer and Flew. Interestingly, Antony Flew’s recent abandonment of atheism was another spur to re-examine issues that I had once prematurely considered done and dusted.

So I rejoice that I can again acknowledge that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself’, and that, being surrounded by ‘so great a cloud of witnesses’, it is our duty and our joy to follow him with grateful and penitent hearts, praying all the while: “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”

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