In it McEwan talks (among other things) about his novel Atonement which has recently been made into a film, and about the whole concept of atonement for a past wrongdoing.
I wish the interview had been longer and a bit more searching, but this is particularly interesting:
It seems to me that the impulse to atone is a religious one, and yet you are a self-declared atheist. Yes, I am an atheist, and probably Briony* is, too. Atheists have as much conscience, possibly more, than people with deep religious conviction, and they still have the same problem of how they reconcile themselves to a bad deed in the past.(*His protagonist in Atonement.)
It’s a little easier if you’ve got a god to forgive you. Not necessarily. Faith in itself is not easy to sustain. Well, we won’t get into that.