I read with interest your comment concerning Richard Dawkins on page 1 of a recent ET : ‘Even Richard Dawkins’ efforts to ridicule God have backfired — leading even fair-minded atheists to reject his simplistic arguments’. I was one of those who rejected his ideas — a lapsed Anglican calling myself an atheist, though in reality probably an agnostic.
Last November at a funeral service I found myself reciting the Lord’s Prayer and this roused latent feelings towards Christ. Surely Dawkins’ TV programme would stop that? Instead, his attitude towards others who did not share his views made me angry, leading me to think about attending a Christmas service.
In the local shopping centre I had been given a flyer about a Christmas Eve carol service at the Grace Evangelical Church of Westerleigh, South Gloucestershire. I had somewhat rudely tried to refuse the flyer, but then took it and, surprisingly, kept it.
Finding that I had missed the local Anglican carol service I decided to attend the one at Westerleigh. The service was everything I could have hoped and more, the people made me very welcome — yes, I would be coming back for the Christmas day service.
Sadly, a few hours later at home, the truth was that nothing had changed within me. There was no real belief and conscience dictated that I should not attend again. Fortunately, before attending the service I had gone to see one of the elders, whose honesty appealed to me. A few weeks later he was on the phone. I explained the situation but agreed to attend the following Sunday morning.
I don’t understand what happened at that service, but suffice it to say my conscience had no trouble about attending the evening service (and later ones).
Following a bout of ill health I am now in regular attendance. Obviously, the main cause for my change of heart must be the people at the church, including that diligent elder — and, of course, someone greater. But Dawkins must take some credit.
However, I will not be buying his book The God delusion because the money has been spent on a new Bible, which at the age of 61 I will read afresh. Dawkins may think I am deluded, but millions will disagree!