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Outed Atheist

Created on Feb 09 2013
Dear Professor Dawkins,
First and foremost, I would just like thank-you for taking the time to read this letter. Furthermore, I would like to thank-you for the great impact your work has made on my life. Over the course of my life I've jumped around with the identities of Catholic to Atheist to Agnostic and back, forth, and around again. Today, I claim myself to be an Atheist, proudly and securely.
I was raised in a Filipino Catholic family that was very devoted and traditional. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school from kindergarten to high school just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. While I was in the system, I never quite understood my religion, but took on the idea that my family, teachers, and priests were smarter and more enlightened than me so I might as well just listen to them. I was never a person of faith, but I definitely believed in Catholicism, believing it to be true because that's what I was told and had no other way to understand or answer the biggest questions in my life.
During high school and throughout University, I gave up on Catholicism and swayed between Atheism and Agnosticism. However, a few years ago, my mother became sick with cancer and, out of fear, I turned myself back to the Church. I honestly couldn't say that I had faith in it, but I believed, at least, I hoped that it could help me and my family through my mother's horrible situation.
After a year of struggle, my mother passed away. I was completely heartbroken and more than anything wanted to believe she was in a better place like everyone seemed to be telling me she was. I wanted to believe she was okay and in heaven, but deep down inside, I could not fully come to terms with that and for the last two years have been at odds with myself, fighting to figure out what was true and what I wanted to believe.
I've had a very hard time dealing with my grief since she passed away and it wasn't until recently that I've really come to accept it. After watching and reading the works of many people in the Atheist community - specifically Hitchens, Harris, and Penn & Teller - I've begun to understand the history of god and religion and this delusional faith people have in him or her or it or whatever people want their god to be. Specifically, I attribute to you this feeling I've grown to love life and existence. I have this greater and deeper appreciation for life as a result of your works and how I've come to understand the beautiful process of evolution and who we have come to be. When I hear your passion for it and how you beautifully express how amazing, almost miraculous it is that we exist at all, it has really helped me to accept the beauty that is the world we live in, that death is just a part of it, and that my mother, who I will miss more than
anyone can ever know, is no longer with me, and that I will have the ability to cherish her memory.
I've decided to document my thoughts and emotions as I go through this process at OutedAtheist.com. I'm very proud to call myself an Atheist and, as a result, have now only begun to really see beautiful the world is.
Thank-you,
Ryan Manahan