Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(1108)

Jan 30, 2013

Dear Professor Dawkins,

I'm a 21 years old male from Poland and I was raised in not so
religious Roman Catholic family, living in a not so religious (as for
Poland) countryside. Here is a brief history of my faith:

Until my graduation from middle school, I was a believer because of
tradition – almost everyone goes to church, so did I. I don't know,
who introduced religion in my life, were they my parents, grandparents
or grandparents' family, but I believed that going to church, praying
etc. was necessary or at least important in life. Surprisingly, my
mother, even though she urged me to attend church, wasn't doing the
same until recently. My father, I believe, is agnostic, but it is hard
to get from him an answer for such difficult question. However I guess
by his indifferent attitude towards religion and by that he hasn't
been coming to church except for big occasions, that he is.

During that time, I was not educated in the Bible, at least outside RE
classes at school. My parents preferred me to read and learn about
science, especially biology, as my father is a forester, and maths.
Therefore, I was never a creationist. I also was not terrorized by
reminding me of hell or forced into any religious activities beside
mass. I was brought up as a kind of `moderate Christian` you often
mentioned in your book.

At the beginning of high school, when preparations to confirmation
sacrament started, I also started to think about religion as it is.
During the preparations, we were required to read the Gospels, and
that made me suspicious of common interpretations of the Bible. You
know, all those conflicting stories of Jesus' birth, death and so on.
I tried to rationalize my Christian faith, by creating my own
theology, loosely based on the Gospels, and by somewhat arbitrarily
deciding that Christianity is maybe not perfect, but the best one from
all religions. I even considered converting to some kind of
Protestantism or Orthodoxy, but they also seemed flawed as
Catholicism. Nevertheless, I continued consider myself a Christian
with a bit of heretic, and still believed, that most of Gospel stuff
is true. As for Old Testament however, I already regarded it as mostly
some old Jewish myths not worth including into my own personal
religion.

This process of individualizing my beliefs spanned over whole 3 year
period of high school. Around the time I entered a university, I found
out some of your videos on Youtube (yes, internet is a wonderful way
to spread your ideas to the world). As for my beliefs were somewhat
between Christianity and deism, I fully understood your way of
thinking. By reading other sceptical sources, and given my knowledge
of physics, astronomy and biology (especially physics), I came to
conclusion that there is a possibility that there's no God. I however
still believed in him, about 3-3.5 in your scale – I was deist.
However, I was still attending church, partly for family reasons, and
partly “just in case”. I was also praying to God for some miracle or
sign, and unsurprisingly, there were none. I also investigated some
other miracles, like apparitions, Eucharist miracles and so on, but I
still was not convinced they are not fakes or natural events. Then I
watched some of your documentaries and borrowed God Delusion from my
friend. After reading it my score started rising, and now I am around
5.5. So I am not sure whether I can call myself atheist or agnostic,
but definitely I am a non-believer now, and if there accidentally is a
God and he is interested in my life, he probably approves what I came
up with. I have also stopped going to the church, which resulted in a
short dialogue with my mother, that went like that: “Why didn't you
want to come to the church?” “Because so.” “So tell me, why were you
attending up until now?” “Frankly speaking, I don't know.” I am going
tell her and the rest of family about my beliefs later, but for now I
think it is enough.

I am not sure what happens when I tell people that I do not believe in
the stuff that they believe. I am keeping it for myself for now. But
thanks to you (and also many others, but you especially) I am now
sure, that if someone asks me directly if I am a believer, I will
sincerely and without hesitation answer “No”. I am also very glad that
you can discuss faith with such dignity, culture and calm face. Maybe
it is because you are British, but if someone does not agree with you,
you never seem angry and you calmly present your precise arguments,
without escaping to eristic or personal attacks. No hate, only logic.
That is what I love in your – let me call it that way – preachings.

I am now waiting for some physicists to find why the values of the
physical constants are such that they allow life. If they find an
answer, I will become a 6.9 atheist just like you.

Your sincerely,
Karol

P.S. I think parents chose my name to honour the pope. As a child, I
even considered becoming a priest (you know, silly childhood dreams),
but now I think life is too beautiful to waste it in a seminary. As
for the pope, when John Paul II died, I felt indifferent. No crying,
no grief, no even sadness. I have never understood people who are so
obsessed with him. He was just a priest who won an election that
allowed him to wear white. And he just died, like, everybody else. I
don't understand all that pope-mania in Poland – I don't know what he
did, except for saying “Let Thy Spirit descend and renovate land…
this land.” and being a pope. And most of Poles know also this much or
even less, but love him regardless. He is even more revered than God
himself. Saying bad about him, or even questioning his greatness is a
strong taboo in Poland, even among some non-believers.
.

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