Well-Known Atheist Becomes a Christian: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Says She Found the ‘Purpose of Life’

Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Updated: Nov 14, 2023
Well-Known Atheist Becomes a Christian: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Says She Found the ‘Purpose of Life’

Well-Known Atheist Becomes a Christian: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Says She Found the ‘Purpose of Life’

A well-known scholar and author who grew up Muslim before turning to atheism says she now considers herself a Christian and believes her new faith provides the best answers to the purpose and meaning of life.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a research fellow for the Stanford University Hoover Institution, previously was considered a member of the New Atheist movement alongside authors such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens.

But in a new column at UnHerd, she says she has become a Christian. Her column is titled, “Why I am now a Christian” -- a reference to a 1927 lecture by atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russell titled “Why I am Not a Christian.”

Hirsi Ali attributes her conversion to global reasons -- she believes atheism doesn’t have the answers for a clash of civilizations -- but also to spiritual reasons. 

“I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable — indeed very nearly self-destructive. Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?” 

Russell and other leading atheists, she writes, “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,” she writes. “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-signaling theatre on behalf of a victimized minority or our supposedly doomed planet. The line 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.’”

She adds, “I discover a little more at church each Sunday. But I have recognized, 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.”

Hirsi Ali’s 2006, Infidel recounted her early years in Somalia and her eventual rejection of Islam. Hitchens penned the foreword. She spoke at the 2012 Global Atheist Convention.   

Atheism, she writes in her new column, is “too weak and divisive a doctrine to fortify us against our menacing foes.” 

“Western civilization is under threat from three different but related forces: the resurgence of great-power authoritarianism and expansionism in the forms of the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s Russia; the rise of global Islamism, which threatens to mobilize a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fiber of the next generation,” she writes. “We endeavor to fend off these threats with modern, secular tools: military, economic, diplomatic, and technological efforts to defeat, bribe, persuade, appease, or surveil. And yet, with every round of conflict, we find ourselves losing ground. We are either running out of money, with our national debt in the tens of trillions of dollars, or we are losing our lead in the technological race with China.”

Christianity, she writes, is the root of all “sorts of apparently secular freedoms — of the market, of conscience and of the press.” The West, she writes, must answer the question: What is it that unites us? Yet there is, she writes, “no need to look for some new-age concoction of medication and mindfulness.”

“Christianity has it all,” she writes. 

Photo Courtesy: ©GettyImages/Will & Deni McIntyre

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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Well-Known Atheist Becomes a Christian: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Says She Found the ‘Purpose of Life’