It seemed obvious, really. How could I ever have been so foolish as not to believe in God? What a small, miserable universe I inhabited before I found faith and, ultimately, the Catholic Church. Some people have grand conversion stories of when they suddenly felt God’s saving grace, or had an overwhelming sense of realisation while at their lowest ebb. Not me. My own story of coming to the Church is one of gradual realisation – from possibly not, to maybe, to probably, to undoubtedly.
This journey was partly based on the poverty of atheism, and partly on the poverty of the Christian alternatives. The atheist view at first seemed so simple: the universe as can be discerned through science, and consisting simply of what we can see and experience directly, without any of this inconvenient, superstitious mumbo-jumbo. Yet this still left many things unexplained.
As Chesterton remarked, religious people can believe everything about the universe that atheists do – the Big Bang, the laws of physics, evolution, logic and reason. Nothing about belief in God, at least according to standard Catholic teaching anyway, need detract from that.
The religious view, however, adds to and complements the material view of nature, explaining the deepest and most profound questions of human existence. What is the point of life? Why do we suffer? Where do right and wrong really come from? These explanations need not conflict with or contradict science. Rather, they provide a new field of understanding, another dimension to reality.
Faced with this realisation, the atheist worldview suddenly seemed rather impoverished, like living in a smaller, cruder universe.
There were also cultural reasons. Singing in a college chapel choir certainly helped, especially with the exposure to the beauty of sacred music, and of course the regular services – even if they were a somewhat soft form of Anglicanism. By the time I left university, I was ready to call myself a High Church Anglican, as I thought any patriotic, small-c conservative Brit ought to.
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