Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(416)

Jan 30, 2013

Teenaged atheist

I am a 16-year-old, British-born American currently living in that bastion of Enlightened thought and rationale, Connecticut. My immediate family are devoutly Irish Catholic, and worse, almost all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. are fundamentalist Christians. Not just in name, in practice. These are the kind of people who vote for Bush because they actually believed God wants them to do so.

Here is an example of the kind of lunacy my kinsmen partake of: my cousin became pregnant at the age of 21. Unfortunately, not only was her partner not her husband, he was also not a Christian. He was – gasp! – an atheist. Her father, my uncle, is the pastor of a church in upstate New York. Accordingly, she – a legal, supposedly freethinking adult – confessed her “sins” in front of the congregation, had her unfortunate partner convert to Christianity, and promptly married him. They now have five children. My mother, father, and other relatives, while not as outrageous in practice, are dissatisfied with the Catholic Church and share many, if not all, of my relatives' beliefs.

For the better part of a year, I have been dissatisfied with the Christianity I was brought up to embrace. Therefore, last summer at the age of 15, having scrutinized the Bible, theological arguments, and scientific theories such as evolution and the big bang, I made up my mind that there was no god. I told nobody except my friends. It was not until I read your most recent book that I was finally able to articulate – to others, and, more importantly, to myself – what it is I believe, and more specifically why it is that I don't believe in religion. My purpose, then, is to thank you for all you do. The world has desperate need of more people like you.

I have told my mother; she in turn has, I suspect, begun actively praying for me and my soul. My father is of the Irish Catholic just-do-what-you're-told school, and therefore seems not to care too much either way. My uncle, the a philosopher who I believe was your colleague at Oxford for a breif period, is my only real outlet for atheistic expression.

I only wanted to express my sincere gratitude at your tirelessness and my assurance that you are not alone, and that a new generation of freethinking, intelligent young people is waking up.

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