Language, music brings A. N. Wilson back to faith

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Author A. N. Wilson has a beautiful testimony of his "Road to Damascus" conversion to atheism 20 years ago and his "slow, hesitant, doubting" return to the Christian faith. The trigger for his return: The self-evident reality that mankind was created in the image of God.

Do materialists really think that language just "evolved", like finches' beaks, or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally? Where's the evidence? How could it come about that human beings all agreed that particular grunts carried particular connotations? 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....

I haven'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 Hitler'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 Bonhoeffer'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 Bonhoeffer's serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.

My departure from the Faith was like a conversion on the road to Damascus. My return was slow, hesitant, doubting. So it will always be; but I know I shall never make the same mistake again. Gilbert Ryle, with donnish absurdity, called God "a category mistake". Yet the real category mistake made by atheists is not about God, but about human beings. Turn to the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - "Read the first chapter of Genesis without prejudice and you will be convinced at once . . . 'The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life'." And then Coleridge adds: "'And man became a living soul.' Materialism will never explain those last words."

I've often though that there are two propositions in Scripture that are self-evident to the honest observer: That man was created in the image of God, and that man is fallen, totally depraved.

Consider a highway. Not long ago I drove the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West. The highway was built in the late 1930s to replace Henry Flagler's Overseas Railway, which was destroyed by the 1935 Labor Day hurricane. Several sections, including the Seven-Mile Bridge, have been replaced more recently. Each new bridge is built with more durable materials and techniques than the bridge it replaces.

Beavers build dams, ants build hills, bees build hives, but their designs haven't advanced in all the years of recorded history. No species other than man builds new things that build upon the successes and failures of others, new designs that incorporate the designs of others in creative ways. We are creators, reflecting the image of our Creator.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 20, 2015 1:04 PM.

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