Laura Keynes, the great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Darwin, is a Catholic apologist, according to the National Catholic Register:
When asked how she found her way to the Catholic Church, Keynes reveals that she was actually baptized Catholic after her mother converted shortly after her birth. However, by the time she was 12, her mother had lapsed, and her faith formation ended.
Keynes drifted into agnosticism while studying for a philosophy doctorate at Oxford. Around this time, so-called “New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens angrily entered the public sphere with their polemics against the irrationality of any and all religious systems.
But Keynes was put off by what she calls the “strange mix of angry emotion I encountered there [at Oxford during her twenties]: anger at the thought of God; anger at any restrictions on behavior; anger at thwarted will…”
Keynes–a great-great niece of John Maynard–reached her faith through rejection, reason, and, ultimately, suffering:
During her grandmother’s long illness, Keynes explains that she ‘returned to the Rosary during those long hours at her bedside and was reminded of the redemptive power of Christ’s suffering. I apprehended a theological underpinning to the question of suffering…’
She returned to the Church after “much reflection and reading.” Keynes reached God holistically: through both suffering and reasoned analysis.
That question of suffering cannot be easily separated from that of the purpose of life: why are we here? What kind of God would allow or even encourage such struggle? Interestingly, some New Atheists, including Dawkins, consider this a silly question. In the following debate with Cardinal George Pell from 2012, he claims that “Why?” is the wrong question, one that isn’t worth answering:
For Dr. Keynes at any rate, New Atheism was insufficient.
To learn more of Dr. Keynes, I recommend her piece in the July/August issue Standpoint about Pope Francis.