Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(15)

Jan 30, 2013

Dr. Dawkins,

First, let me thank you for being an outspoken man of
reason, unashamed of the truth, and unafraid of where
it may lead.

My escape from the doctrines of religion is possibly
different from many of the others on here. You see, I
was raised in a very “Christmas & Easter” Christian
family. My father was, from birth, part of the
Catholic church, but he left the faith behind in early
adulthood, and never attended church in my memory. My
mother was raised in a God-fearing protestant home.
While she believed, and enjoyed attending church, it
was never forced on us as children.

After arriving in my current home, Canada, my family
experienced a tragedy. My father, at 52, suffered a
massive heart attack and passed away only 7 months
after our arrival. We were left with very little
support as we had no family, and had really had little
opportunity to establish any strong bonds of
friendship.

As such, I, 13 years old and the youngest in my family
as well as the only boy, was left with no father
figure, feelings of guilt, and a great deal of the
usual questions, such as “Why him?”.

The confusion, anger, great sense of loss, guilt and
depression which I felt led me to embrace the Mormon
church. I felt a sense of peace and belonging as
people told me they loved me, were there for me, and
that they would help me with recovery from my loss.
The church gave me answers that were comforting –
“your father is in a better place”, “God has a plan”,
“Your father is watching over you and can hear you”.
These answers played to my sense of want, my desire to
understand things that at that point I could not, and
my need to belong and feel loved by more than my
family.

However, at 18, doubts started to creep in as I read
the various tomes of the religion in more depth. As I
asked more and more questions, I found those standard
answers – “It is all part of God's plan” “We can not
possibly understand all of God's wants”, “We must have
faith” – were not enough. As I questioned more and
more, I came to one inescapable truth: I had to leave
the church and escape the belief system to which so
many others would blindly cleave.

My choice to pursue more truth in religion led me to
believe in a God, but not one who participated in our
lives, or in the events of the world. Although I now
was not a believer in organised religions, I was
married in a church and had my daughter christened. I
felt strongly that I had reached a point of
understanding of the world with which I was very
comfortable.

However, following my divorce and my choice to return
to school at 30 to further my education and find
something else that interested me, I found myself
examining life and all its questions even further. The
critical thinking that I had foregone after making my
choice about belief in my early 20's returned, and I
began to examine life anew.

Over the last several years, I have come to understand
religion and why it is deemed so necessary for people.
Simply put, people need a way to understand things for
which they have no explanation, and they need to feel
that there is more – it is beyond the scope of many
human minds to imagine nothingness (instead of life
after death). I have also seen the terrible things
done in the name of religion, even by members of my
extended family. I have fallen victim to the typical
religious answer to those who do not believe and can
not be swayed in that those same members of my family
who claim to be “Good Christians” and profess to love
me, regardless of my choices, now either shun me or
criticise my life choices or simply try to pretend I
do not exist.

That said, I am fortunate to have a number of
intelligent friends who also have escaped the grips of
religion, and we share our experiences as we
continuously encounter the religious who believe we
need to be “saved”. Having the knowledge imparted by
various important thinkers such as yourself, we are
always able to leave them unable to answer several
questions with anything other than the usual religious
cliches.

However, over all this time, I had never read any of
your writings, or those of Sam Harris, etc. A friend
who is also a critical thinker advised me to start
reading these great works and it is absolutely
wondrous to know that there are so many others who
share our beliefs. I am recommending these books to
many, including those who do believe in deities,
because I believe them to be among the great writings
of our times.

Thank you.

.

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