Feature Story From November
An outspoken atheist social commentator and global activist who became a vocal advocate for women and a fierce critic of her former Muslim faith has publicly announced that she’s now turned to Christianity. Somalia-born Dutch American Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former Netherlands MP, an author, a podcaster, and a researcher for the Hoover Institution at Stanford University as well as the American Enterprise Institute. She publicly announced her conversion in an essay for internet news and opinion website UnHerd.
Ms. Hirsi Ali cited several reasons for her embrace of the Christian faith. She recognised both the social benefits of Judeo-Christian values, as well as the emotions she faced in a life devoid of the eternal. She said Western civilisation as we know it is under threat from the resurgence of the Communist powers of Russia and China as well as the relentless rise of global Islam. The former atheist also pointed to the viral spread of woke ideology, which she says is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation.
She concluded the “only credible answer” is found in “a desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition” which she believes safeguards human freedom. Faithwire reports that beyond that Ms. Hirsi Ali’s conversion was also rooted in finding a missing heart link. “I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable — indeed very nearly self-destructive,” she wrote. “Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?”
The 54-year-old openly admitted she has much to learn about Christianity, but has landed on it as the best solution to her personal, and our societal, woes. She explained that when she was a child The Muslim Brotherhood dictated how she should be brought up. She was led to believe she must avoid reading novels, seeing movies, dancing, and other novelties and was swept up in the Islamic ideology, believing she couldn’t befriend unbelievers and, in particular, was taught to develop a “hatred” for Jewish people.
As an adult she believed the teaching of atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell made more sense with its lack of rules and regulations seeming much more tenable. The more time she spent with people like evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, the more she felt she made the right decision. But now, she has had another change of mind and heart.
Writing in the Daily Declaration, Mark Powell, the associate pastor at Sydney’s Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, called Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s conversion: “One of the most remarkable stories of the year. Her public profession of Christian faith is not only an explicit renunciation of her former atheism, but also a stunning response to Bertrand Russell’s famous 1927 lecture Why I am Not a Christian.”
He writes that: “A large part of the reason for her return to religious faith is because of what she refers to as the ‘nihilistic vacuum’ that exists whenever there is unbelief. The results of which are devastating for life in the world today.”
Ms. Hirsi Ali wrote: “Russell and other activist atheists believed that with the rejection of God we would enter an age of reason and intelligent humanism. But the ‘God hole’ — the void left by the retreat of the church — has merely been filled by a jumble of irrational quasi-religious dogma. The result is a world where modern cults prey on the dislocated masses, offering them spurious reasons for being and action — mostly by engaging in virtue-signalling theatre on behalf of a victimised minority or our supposedly doomed planet.”
She noted the line below often attributed to G.K. Chesterton has turned into a prophecy:
When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.
“Freedom of conscience and speech is perhaps the greatest benefit of Western civilisation. It does not come naturally to man. It is the product of centuries of debate within Jewish and Christian communities. It was these debates that advanced science and reason, diminished cruelty, suppressed superstitions, and built institutions to order and protect life, while guaranteeing freedom to as many people as possible. Unlike Islam, Christianity outgrew its dogmatic stage. It became increasingly clear that Christ’s teaching implied not only a circumscribed role for religion as something separate from politics. It also implied compassion for the sinner and humility for the believer,” Ms. Hirsi Ali continued.
“I have come to realise that Russell and my atheist friends failed to see the wood for the trees. The wood is the civilisation built on the Judeo-Christian tradition; it is the story of the West, warts and all. Russell’s critique of those contradictions in Christian doctrine is serious, but it is also too narrow in scope.”
“The lesson I learned from my years with the Muslim Brotherhood was the power of a unifying story, embedded in the foundational texts of Islam, to attract, engage and mobilise the Muslim masses. Unless we offer something as meaningful, I fear the erosion of our civilisation will continue. And fortunately, there is no need to look for some new-age concoction of medication and mindfulness. Christianity has it all.”
“That is why I no longer consider myself a Muslim apostate, but a lapsed atheist. Of course, I still have a great deal to learn about Christianity. I discover a little more at church each Sunday. But I have recognised, in my own long journey through a wilderness of fear and self-doubt, that there is a better way to manage the challenges of existence than either Islam or unbelief had to offer,” the respected commentator concluded.