Coming Home to God: On Losing My Unbelief
by Sean Haylock
My recent conversion to Christianity (and although I was raised Catholic I feel the distance I’ve traveled in my spiritual journey warrants the name of conversion) has come about as the culmination of three different levels of consciousness raising, the first philosophical, the second theological, and the third religious. Underwriting and keeping pace with all of these has been a fourth level of political consciousness raising. I was formerly an atheist and a liberal. I am now most emphatically a Christian and a conservative.
At the level of philosophy, I have been mercifully disabused of the callow and dogmatic rationalism to which I was, for most of my adolescence, a credulous adherent. Without having the barest familiarity with sophisticated philosophy, and, like most children of liberal modernity, conditioned to adopt an attitude of scornful condescension or self-satisfied mockery towards anything under the banner of traditional culture, I was easy prey for the New Atheists and their gospel of uncomplicated repudiation. In the writings of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris I had found a beguiling case for overlooking the historical realities behind momentous events from the crusades to 9/11 and, with a pleasurable sense of outrage, blaming all iniquity on the faithful and their outmoded superstitions.
These writers have always painted themselves as defenders of “reason,” bothering little to understand for themselves what “reason” has really meant for the traditions of inquiry upon which Western civilization is founded, and remaining blithely ignorant of how the thinkers they emulate have disastrously perverted the course of reason in their scientistic philosophies. The cost of exalting “reason” in the place of God has been all of the most hellish atrocities of the modern era. The New Atheists would have you forget this in the name of a supposedly common-sensical skepticism, a fashionable intellectual affectation that will, like every other hip ideology on the market, give you a base from which to launch assaults on traditional morality. As a teenage Catholic struggling to reconcile my ill-informed grasp of Church doctrine with my precociousness and needy narcissism, I swallowed whole the New Atheists’ pabulum.
My salvation came through my encounter with moral philosophy.
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