Evidence Leads Atheist Writer & Lecturer, Philip Vander Elst, to Christianity
by James Bishop
Philip Vander Elst, a former atheist, is a freelance writer and lecturer. He graduated from Oxford in 1973 with a degree in politics and philosophy, and has since spent most of his professional life in politics and journalism. He says that he loves “the world of books, ideas and debate,” and that two questions have always interested him, “Is there a God? And, if there is, what is the connection between God and freedom?” Vander Elst now works at Areopagus Ministries.
Vander Elst grew up in a non-Christian family with intellectually gifted but unbelieving parents, “I used to think that belief in God and the supernatural had been discredited by the advance of science, and was incompatible with liberty. Religious faith seemed to me to involve the blind worship of a cosmic dictator, and the abandonment of reason in favour of ‘revelation’. Why, in any case, should I take religion seriously, I thought, when the existence of evil and suffering clearly discredited the Christian claim that our world owed its existence to a benevolent Creator?”
In fact, he was quite hostile towards Christianity explaining that his skepticism and hostility were already developing during his teen years “under the influence of thinkers like Ayn Rand and Bertrand Russell.” His skepticism grew stronger while attending courses at Oxford University. A few years later, at the age of 24, Vander Elst would meet his future wife who turned out to be a Christian. Admittedly, this shocked him because“this highly intelligent and beautiful woman was ‘one of them.’” This, he explains, was the push he needed, and he thus became determined to find out whether there was any good evidence for the existence of God and the truthfulness of Christianity. However, he was not prepared to become a believer just to cement their relationship, or because his future wife was herself a Christian…
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