The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God:
Why new atheism grew old and secular thinkers are considering Christianity again.

Justin Brierley


This long-form documentary podcast presented by Justin Brierley, tells the story of why new atheism grew old and secular thinkers are considering Christianity again. Featuring interviews with secular and Christian thinkers such as Jordan Peterson, Richard Dawkins, Alex O Connor, Louise Perry, Tom Holland, Dave Rubin, NT Wright, Alister Mcgrath, Douglas Murray, Bethel Mcgrew, William Lane Craig, Jana Harmon, Bishop Robert Barron, Stephen Woodford, Sarah Irving-Stonebraker, Adam Coleman, Jon Mccray, Paul Kingsnorth and Francis Spufford, this series accompanies the book 'The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God'. Could the tide of faith be ready to come in again in our generation?

1. The Rise and Fall of New Atheism
New Atheism was an aggressive and very popular form of atheism that emerged in the mid-2000s led by the '4 horsemen' - Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. Speaking to a range of experts and commentators Justin Brierley charts the rise of New Atheism and hears from those who began to question the direction of the movement.

2. Elevatorgate: How the culture wars killed New Atheism
How did an incident in an elevator spark the downfall of New Atheism? Justin Brierley hears from those inside and outside the movement on the sexual scandals and controversies that led to feminists, LGBT and trans activists clashing with New Atheist leaders and advocating instead for 'Atheism +'.

3. Thank God for Richard Dawkins

4. Alex O'Connor: Losing Faith in New Atheism
A bonus episode of full conversation with popular atheist YouTuber Alex O Connor (aka Cosmic Skeptic). He talks to Justin about his own changing relationship with new atheism, and why he is rethinking some of his early takes on Christianity. The documentary format resumes next week.

5. The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon
Jordan Peterson rose to fame in 2018 as a secular psychologist pointing his large audience back to the Bible. Is he a 'gateway drug' for Christianity? And what does he actually believe about God? Justin hears from thinkers, converts and the man himself about why so many have flocked to his message.

6. The Meaning Crisis: Why we're all religious deep down
Why is a mental health crisis sweeping the West? In a world where we can choose to be whatever we want to be, is this also an identity crisis? Justin hears from thinkers, psychologists and converts on The Meaning Crisis engulfing our culture and whether the Christian story could be poised to answer it.

7. The New Thinkers: A new conversation on God
As New Atheists turned their attention to battling the quasi-religions of 'woke' ideology in academia and culture, so a new generation of secular thinkers have begun a new conversation on God. Justin Brierley charts the changes wrought by the culture wars and introduces some key thinkers who are asking whether we can live without the Christian story. They include: Tom Holland, Douglas Murray, Louise Perry, Mary Harrington, Bret Weinstein, Jonathan Haidt and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

8. Ayaan Hirsi Ali: A New Atheist embraces Christianity
Ayaan Hirsi Ali recently announced her conversion to Christianity. The Somali-born ex-Muslim was one of the key voices of New Atheism in the mid 2000s but created a big stir when she published an article titled 'Why I am a now a Christian'. In this bonus episode Justin speaks to Elizabeth Oldfield and Glen Scrivener about Hirsi Ali's story, hearing clips from her interviews and responses from critics who claim her embrace of Christianity is politically motivated rather than a spiritual conversion.

9. Paul Kingsnorth & Martin Shaw: A poet and mythologist convert
Why are poets and storytellers being drawn towards Christ? In this bonus episode Justin speaks to two adult converts to Christianity whose stories overlap in remarkable ways. Celebrated poet and author Paul Kingsnorth, and mythologist and storyteller Martin Shaw, both had unexpected conversions that have led them into the Orthodox church.

10. History Maker: Why Tom Holland changed his mind about Christ
Whether modern westerners realise it or not, their world has been shaped by the Jesus revolution of 2,000 years ago. Popular historian Tom Holland is a notable voice who has been reminding his secular peers of the Christian waters they swim in and why it matters. In this 'third act' of the documentary series Justin charts how the Christian story shaped us. He hears from Tom Holland on why he changed his mind about Christianity alongside thinkers, historians and converts on why atheist accounts of history often fail to explain why we believe in equality, dignity and human rights.

11. The Sexual Revolution: Why Louise Perry changed her mind
The 20th Century's sexual revolution led to free love and the modern hookup culture. But some secular intellectuals are now saying we need to return to the values of the 1st Century sexual revolution.  Justin hears from historians and thinkers who identify Christianity as the source of secular human rights, and why feminists such as Louise Perry are re-evaluating the Christian sexual ethics of marriage and monogamy.


12. The Christian Revolution: Why the cross changed the world
The early Christian claim that the God-man Jesus had been crucified for the sake of the world was 'foolishness' to the Greco-Roman world. Yet this countercultural belief in a God of sacrificial love ended up reshaping our instincts about human value, equality and compassion. Justin resumes his conversation with Tom Holland alongside other historians and thinkers on how early Christianity contributed to the end of child exposure, the rise of adoption, hospitals and healthcare, and a path towards the abolition of slavery. Holland also shares how an experience in a ruined church in Iraq left a profound impact on him.
13. Francis Spufford & Andrew Klavan: A celebrated author and Hollywood screenwriter come to faith

Prize-winning author Francis Spufford was an atheist for over 20 years before finding his way back to faith. His book 'Unapologetic: Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense' was an unconventional response to New Atheism. Hollywood screenwriter and bestselling novelist Andrew Klavan, also came to Christian faith as an adult from a secular Jewish background - a story he tells in his book 'The Great Good Thing'. Justin hears both their conversion stories in this bonus edition of the podcast. The documentary format resumes next time.