Disillusioned with Dawkins: My Journey from Atheism to Christianity
Interview with Peter Byrom by Gavin Matthews
SOLAS: At University, you got very involved in “the New Atheist” thinking, how did you get into that, what grabbed you about their thinking and what persuaded you that they had a case?
PB: I was on a drama course, at University of Kent, 4-year Masters Programme. In that kind of environment you get to mix with all sorts of people who throw all sorts of ideas around. One of my best friends there said, “you must read this book called The God Delusion, it’s absolutely amazing.” So I started looking into Dawkins, watching him on YouTube, and reading the book.
At University, you want to be independent and break off from your parents and do your own thing. In the crowd I was mixing with – a very liberal, expressive, quite emotionally sensitive, crowd, you really do buy into the general narrative; that ‘we’re here to be expressive, experimental and push boundaries, and get in touch with really deep things about human nature’. So regarding ‘religious-stuff’ or ‘God-belief’ the narrative is that it is something oppressive, dull and boring, and for unimaginative idiots. People throw around arguments in the pub such as “the Pope tells people not to use condoms, isn’t he an idiot”. Then, you hear about ‘creationism’ whereas you believe in evolution, and think it makes you a more sophisticated person, because you embrace the grey areas and complexities of the human condition. So the whole ethos was, ‘if you are a sophisticated, intelligent, person, you don’t do ‘the god-stuff’ which is for losers. That was an atmosphere that I very much enjoyed and embraced, because that gave me more permission to just do things my own way.
SOLAS: So you were attracted to a non-Christian lifestyle, and Atheists like Dawkins provided you with a justification for that..?
PB: Yes, I’d ditched whatever bits of Christian upbringing I’d had…