Richard Dawkins is perhaps one of the most prominent atheists of today. However, the popular scientist recently admitted that he is a "secular Christian" because he craves the nostalgia and traditions of the church.
"I would describe myself as a secular Christian in the same sense as secular Jews have a feeling for nostalgia and ceremonies," the Telegraph reported Dawkins as saying. "But if you don't have the supernatural, it's not clear to me why you would call yourself a minister. But I am a secular Christian, if you want to call me that."
The Telegraph reports that Dawkins recently spoke at the Hay Festival to present the first volume of his memoir, "An Appetite for Wonder."
While the 73 year old does not embrace blatantly Christian beliefs, he expressed Biblical principles throughout his speech. Most notably, the scientist said he feels al humans must take a certain path in life, and that if they veer from it a "magnetic pull" will bring them back to their fate.
He recalls a "Lord of the Flies-style bullying" at his school in Rhodesia, modern-day Zimbabwe, where one boy named "Auntie Peggy" was cruelly teased.
Dawkins says he was so desperate to fit in at school that he did not join the astronomy club or any other science group for fear of taunting, almost missing out on his future career.
"Peer pressure is terribly strong and there are things you should have tried but you don't because you want to fit in. I was neither a bully, nor was I bullied, but I reproach myself for not having intervened.
"I think there are always paths not taken but if a different path is taken, I think there is a magnetic pull. There is a sort of something that pulls you back to the pathway having taken a fork in the road.
Dawkin's warming to the idea of Christian principles is a far cry from his early atheistic mantra.
"In his best-selling book The God Delusion, Dawkins famously mocked the God of the Old Testament, claiming, 'The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully,'" says Michael L. Brown, author of The Real Kosher Jesus and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire. "This quote quickly became an atheist favorite, kind of an instant classic and part of Dawkins' legacy."
Earlier this year, Dawkins said he was a little angry with God and those who believe in Him, yet said that children must be taught "truth" by their parents.
"I do believe in truth. I am moved by the beauty of life, as it has evolved," he said in a speech at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "I think any child who is being denied that knowledge is being cheated. It's wicked that children are being brought up in that way by parents, teachers, priests-deliberately, systematically deprived of that knowledge."