Aayan Hirsi Ali, well-known atheist, becomes a Christian, gets criticized by Richard Dawkins.

Who is Aayan Hirsi Ali?
Aayan was born in Somalia 54 years ago to a Muslim family. She speaks up for Muslim women against forced marriage, child marriage, honor killing, and genital mutilation.

She underwent genital mutilation when she was 5 years old. Her father opposed it but he was in jail when her grandmother arranged it.

She lived in several countries, including Kenya and Saudi Arabia, before entering Netherlands as a refugee when she was 23. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2003, but resigned in 2006.

Hirsi Ali, the former Muslim, became an atheist. In 2004 she collaborated on a short film with Theo van Gogh called Submission which told about women oppressed under fundamentalist Islamic law. The film led to death threats and van Gogh was murdered several days later. In 2005, she was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

In 2010 she was on a published Al-Qaeda hit-list which included Salman Rushdie, author of Satanic Verses, and Geert Wilders, Dutch politician and leader of the hard-right Party for Freedom. Wilders is always accompanied by a police protection unit. Its notable that Wilder’s party had a big win this week in Netherland’s general election, and he looks like being the next Dutch Prime Minister. This has created some fear across Europe.

In a 2015 book called Heretic, Hirsi Ali argued for a reformation of Islam, and she supported reformist Muslims.

After marrying in 2011 Niall Ferguson, an English historian, Hirsi Ali became a U.S. citizen in 2013. She migrated to the US and now works as a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. A fascinating list of her talks and publications can be found here.

Aayan Hirsi Ali becomes a Christian.

For many years she was an avowed atheist, after rejecting her Muslim faith. Recently she has converted to Christianity. When asked why, she said:

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?

Another thing Hirsi Ali says about the personal side of Christian faith comes from an interview with Freddie Sayers that is not yet public (Why Evolution Is True blog – 17 November 2023):

And yes, it is partly personal and spiritual. And it’s a story I like because it’s a story that says: human life is worth living because it’s in the image of God. And instead of seeking a God somewhere out there who’s ordering you to do all sorts of things, God is something in you. That’s much, much more appealing to me than the story of: there is nothing there, you have no more value than mould. And that’s atheism. And I think if you tell people they have no more value than mould, then what’s the point?

Finally, one more reply to a question from Freddie Sayers:
But I continued to have this big spiritual hole or need. I tried to self-medicate. I tried to sedate myself. I drank enough alcohol to sterilise a hospital. Nothing helped. I continued to read books on psychiatry and the brain. And none of that helped. All of that explained a small piece of the puzzle, but there was still something that I was missing.
And then I think it was one therapist who said to me, early this year: “I think, Ayaan, you’re spiritually bankrupt.” And at that point, I was in a place where I had sort of given up hope. I was in a place of darkness, and I thought, “well, what the hell, I’m going to open myself to that and see what you are talking about”.
And we started talking about faith, and belief in God, and I explained to her that the God I grew up with was a horror show. He created you to punish you and frighten you; and as a girl, and as a woman, you’re just a piece of trash. And so I explained to her why I didn’t believe in God — and, more than that, why I actually hated God.
And then she asked me to design my own God, and she said, “if you had the power to make your own God, what would you do?” And as I was going on I thought: that is actually a description of Jesus Christ and Christianity at its best. And so instead of inventing yet another new God, I started diving into that story. And so far I like this story, as I explore it. The more I look at it, the more I — I don’t want to say I’m fulfilled, but I no longer have this need, this void. I feel like I’m going somewhere.

Criticism by atheists.
This of course is expected when a favorite child leaves the nest. Richard Dawkins, famous atheist from England, says in a letter to Hirsi Ali (reported in the blog Why Evolution is True on 11/17/2023):

Christians are theists. They believe in a divine father figure who designed the universe, listens to our prayers, is privy to our every thought. You surely don’t believe that? Do you believe Jesus rose from the grave three days after being placed there? Of course you don’t. Do you believe Jesus was born to a virgin? Certainly not. Someone of your intelligence does not believe you have an immortal soul, which will survive the decay of your brain.

It seems a little demeaning when Dawkins tells Hirsi Ali what she doesn’t believe. As an aside, Dawkins may not be aware of compelling evidence for an after-life from a history of near-death experiences (NDEs) that have been carefully documented.

Jerry Coyne, the doyenne of atheism in the USA, reverts to a lack of evidence for Jesus, his resurrection, the God of the Bible, etc, in his criticism. There are lots of credible replies to this position. One is the story of Lot and his family escaping Sodom before it was blown up (Genesis 19). After 3,600 years, how could the story, passed down orally for many generations, be even close to the truth?

But the evidence is startling. First, Sodom has been discovered by an archeologist named Steven Collins at Tall el-Hammam, a prominent geographical mound in Jordan. Collins was able to verify several aspects of the story documented in the Bible. Second, Collins argued that a comet fireball was what destroyed the city. This has been confirmed by a team of scientists who studied the whole region in and around Sodom.

The Gray Nomad.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. [Matthew, chapter 7]

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Don M
Don M
6 months ago

I am impressed with this account of a person who was honest with herself and about her surroundings. This honesty lead to her using her intellect and training to research spiritual aspects of life. Her honesty opened her up to the inspiration from the Holy Spirit, and confirmation of the truth. As a Christian she is comfortable in her beliefs, but still search for more truth, which will be given to her, see New Testament Book of James, Chapter 1, verse 5. regarding gifts of wisdom, and being honest with God. Spiritual growth and Faith are ever growing when Christians are truly Honest and open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Her story is touching and inspiring. Thanks Ian!

6 months ago

Thank you for sharing this, Ian. Precious testimony! If OK with you, I’d like to share this post on my Facebook page.

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