To Whom It May Concern.,
I would like to state to you my own conversions.
Originally, being born into and starting from Ukrainian Orthodoxy, I then began ‘thinking for myself’ (or at least, to some extent I was) and found myself drawn towards more ‘sophisticated’ version of Catholicism. From there, I then discovering something (I thought) even more sophisticated and a kin to Buddhism, Hinduism and ‘The Maickal Arts’ (along the lines of Aleister Crowley and ‘Ritual Magic’) which then lead me into (what I thought at the time) a more ‘refined form’ of ‘Magical Thinking’ (something along the lines of ‘Chaos Magic’ and sigils, and other manner of ‘whos-it-whats-its’.,).
Finally, after reading Richard Dawkins book (The God Delusion), listening to his lectures; and reading ‘god Is Not Great!’ by Christopher Hitchens and his resulting lectures. I have finally been able to renounce all and every form of ‘magical thinking’ (and with that I include any and ALL forms of ‘mumbo jumbo’). I came to embrace and finally understand truly and with great respect; what is called critical thinking! A very odd thing, as I had (at least since renouncing ‘mainstream religion’) thought of myself as being one who was, in fact, a VERY critical thinker (if you can imagine?). So it was at first, and for only a very brief time, that I felt a slight ‘twinge’ of being somehow ‘hoodwinked’ this whole time, by all the varying forms of ‘magical thinking’ I had held and actually thought I truly believed? However, in the end, it actually became one of the most exciting days for me.
The day I realized the (incredible) error of my ways. In so doing, I realized that many of the experiences which made me turn back to ‘religion’ (I was briefly an atheist in between my Catholicism and embracing Buddhist and Hindu teachings) were many, but the one that had the most profoundest effect on me was: one day, suffering a state of some severe depression, I began walking into the forrest and woods of the town of my birth (I grew up in the FAR northwest of New Jersey, on the border of New York State; despite what the State New Jersey may conjure up in one’s mind; where I lived was in fact a beautiful and glorious bit of earth, full of nature, wildlife and even held one of New Jersey’s largest botanical gardens!) but it was there, inside of the forrest, that I had, what many people call: an experience of ‘cosmic consciousness’. It lasted at first, for me, about a month-it slowly began tapering off and by the end of the month, or thereabouts, I seemed to have lost experienced forever.
At that point, for me anyway, my natural instinct was to explore and become involved with religion once again. I thought that religion must be where the answer lie. I found the experience I had was something SO profound, SO transcendent and SO mind-expanding that it MUST be connected with the supernatural.
After many years of study and examination in the above mentioned religions; I found that I was in fact ‘barking up the wrong tree’. The wrong tree altogether! It was NOT religion and ‘mystical mumbo-jumbo’ that was the answer (NONE of my many [excuse my accidental pun here] ‘varieties of religious experience’ actually EVER lead me [certainly never for any meaningful length of time] to any answer). Instead I found the answer lay simply and plainly in the fact that I was merely enchanted by the ‘awe’, ‘wonder’, the ‘sheer ‘majesty’ and ‘brilliance’ of nature itself. What I found in the end, was that I didn’t NEED anything MORE than that. I didn’t need some superstition, or som e quasi-religion that seemed to be bending over backwards NOT to call itself what it was; religious, magical mumbo-jumbo!
I didn’t need ‘hocus-pocus’ in order to make ‘sense’ of what I had experienced, I only needed to know that my experienced was something that happens to human beings, and has been happening, for quite some time. But I can see how people may be lead astray into thinking that there MUST be a ‘religious’ or ‘supernatural’ answer to their experience, or seek some ‘ancient’ seemingly ‘educated’ methodology for what they have experienced. I can say this, I wish that there were more said about these types of experiences in the atheist community. I wish that science would speak more about the sudden and profound effect of the utter awe and majesty of the natural world, itself. I’m sure there are those who do, but they are certainly not as well known nor as promoted as those in the ‘supernatural business’ (look at Oprah and her encouragement of Deepak Chopra).
It was through my reading and listening to Mr. Dawkins and others in the atheist community that finally made my mind ‘click’ and helped me to realize: there is nothing ‘supernatural’ in what I underwent, nothing ‘mysterious’ or ‘magical’ about it. Not at all. In fact, the world of Science and the natural world in general, is enough for all the wonder and awe that one could ever have happen to them. As I remember reading (and don’t discount me, merely for quoting a Catholic here) G.K. Chesterton once said (and I’m paraphrasing); “It is one thing to be astonished and in awe of a ‘gorgon’ or a ‘griffith’ creatures who are fictional and do not exist; yet, quite another to feel the same awe when looking at a ‘hippopotamus’ or a ‘giraffe’, creatures which look as if they shouldn’t exist but do!”
So, I have to thank you for finally helping me to ‘see the light’ (no pun intended), and to embrace and allow myself to be awe-struck and dumbfounde d by the peculiarities, utter bizarreness and the sheer ‘weirdness’- of the natural world and science; without my primordial brain feeling a continual ‘urge’ and ‘need’ to try and make these ‘poetic’ and ‘aesthetic’ sensations of the natural world-WITHOUT trying to make it ‘supernatural’. In fact, I have found it to be a huge relief. Science and the Natural World are more than enough to enchant us and keep us in awe for as long as we can possibly live. Why cheapen that with ‘magic’ and ‘superstition’? Whew!
Thank you so very much,
and the warmest of regards to you.,