NEAR the end of his life, atheist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre – who had long said the existence of God was impossible – made a surprising admission.
“I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured,’’ he said, In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here; and this idea of a creating hand refers to God.’’
Hearing the news, Satre’s fellow existentialist and long-time companion, Simone de Beauvoir, called him a “turncoat’’.
Nobel prize-winning writer George Bernard Shaw had a similar about-face: “The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt,’’ he wrote shortly before his death. “Witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.’’
Acclaimed natural historian and evolutionist Sir David Attenborough confessed that he now thought there might, after all, be a God. Therefore, he was no longer describing himself as an atheist but as an agnostic.
Attenborough said there was no inconsistency between belief in evolution and belief in God.
“I don’t think an understanding and an acceptance of the four billion-year-long history of life is any way inconsistent with a belief in a supreme being,’’ he said in a BBC interview. “And I am not so confident as to say that I am an atheist.’’
A.N.Wilson, once the committed atheist said:
“Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.
“To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.
“This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.”