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"A Darwin and a Catholic?" Meet Laura Keynes

Catholic or otherwise, you have to find this delicious. A British newspaper, the Catholic Herald, profiles Charles Darwin's great-great-great-granddaughter, Laura Keynes. (Do we notice a resemblance in the eyes?) Miss Keynes was an agnostic but has since embraced Catholicism, in which faith she's active as an apologist. How did that happen?

The debate sparked by Richard Dawkins's book The God Delusion inspired her to read more about the subject, and she concluded that "New Atheism seemed to harbour a germ of intolerance and contempt for people that could only undermine secular Humanist claims to liberalism".

She writes: "If atheism's claim to the intellectual high ground is bolstered by my ancestor's characteristic ability to explore and analyse inconsistencies in the evidence, that same family characteristic led me towards a sceptical assessment of what can and can't be known absolutely."

Keynes also describes how her decision was received by loved ones.

"That I freely chose to be a Catholic after much thought and analysis, and wasn't brainwashed into it, baffle my friends and family alike," she writes. "I overheard one comment: 'But she seemed like such an intelligent girl.' So when people ask 'A Darwin and a Catholic?' what they're saying is that I confound expectations."

So it's the intolerance and illiberalism of Dawkins & Co. that turned her off and got her thinking other thoughts. That, and her own famous ancestor's insistence on the importance of weighing the evidence on all sides of a given question rather than dogmatically and ignorantly dismissing competing views, in New Atheist style.