There was a time in my life when I put my faith in the watchful eye of a loving, engulfing father figure. I have developed into to an honest enough man to admit that. It is similarly simple for me to confess that Santa was also once as real to me as the chair I am sitting in or the ground that my feet are resting on; basically indistinguishable from God. And to be honest, I am not bitter about either. They are both all but foggy memories in a mind newly filled with clarity.
I think the real dilemma lied in the abundance of questions that would annoyingly pester me as I sat in Sunday morning church sermons. Often I would fantasize about confronting the pastor in front of the audience of a few hundred people and take pleasure in stumping him on an issue of biblical accuracy or ? more likely ? hypocrisy. It wasn?t so much that I didn?t believe, but that I could no longer ignore the ridiculous claims and judgmental overtones being professed.
Over the years conversations with my beloved mother led to more pain than understanding; the guilt that had often come as a cost of a comforting religion stemmed this time from a journey of truth-seeking that I couldn?t abandon. I had instilled the feeling that she had been inadequate as a caregiver? a feeling I never wanted her to have. I only wanted to share the feelings of exuberance that I had received from delving in to the real history behind the bible ? a history that left supernatural acts, vengeful agents, and mythical heroes at the door. Those feelings came to me like a fresh breath after being underwater for a period of time.
Gradually, and methodically, I reconciled with my own inner voice through a series of steps that were both throbbing in their discomfort, yet vibrant in their illumination. I had truly let go. I had let go of my moral constraints. I had let go of my fear, my shame. I had truly become free. I can?t compare this conclusion to anything (keep in mind this was not a sudden insight, but rather a slow realization). And it continues to this day to be fantastic whenever I think about it.
My point in writing is to convey the great sense of accomplishment and independence that I gained as my evangelical faith vanished (and you Dr. Dawkins were a part of that). Now, I am able to pursue a life guided by science, which I love. I even hope to make a career of it someday in the near future. I want people to know that being an atheist is not an attempt to show-off a rebellious nature. It is not to defy the woman who invested in me and raised me from infancy. To her, I am eternally grateful. *Rather, atheism is most importantly, a sigh of relief. It is the exhale of all the baggage that comes along with religion. It is the deep breath of discovery.* I feel so much more at peace in the four years since letting go of my religion than at any other time in my young life. This life is both rare and cherished. I am currently living every day to the fullest; the supernatural and the afterlife are nothing more than a foggy memory in a mind newly filled with clarity. And I am happy.
I hope you get to read this someday Dr. Dawkins.
Jay from Minnesota.