Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(570)

Jan 30, 2013

Professor Dawkins,

I was raised Unitarian Universalist, by parents who were raised Catholic/Christian and who felt frustrated with the churches they had gone to in the past. I don't know exactly why they rejected those churches, but I think it had something to do with guilt, and how the church made them feel that both of them had been at fault for the things they had been victims to as children. For the record, a Unitarian church service is very similar to any Christian church service that is more liberal. Same preaching tempo/tone (with some diversity in terms of topics), the usual hymns, but occasionally some candle lighting, celebrating holidays that come up in the major religions, with some pagan celebration mixed in, and a positive attitude towards gays/lesbians…and so on.

I always kind of loosely believed in god when I was growing up, because it was what I was raised on. However, with being Unitarian, I had an opportunity in Sunday school to learn about pretty much every religion, in some detail, so exploring religion was encouraged. That lead me into various phases of love/hate feelings toward religion at different times when I was a teenager. At one point I was really into Buddhism/Taoism, and had a distaste for anything Christian/Jewish/Islamic. At another point, that sort of reversed itself, but not for very long. I don't remember the exact order that things happened, as this trend went back and forth for a bit and my belief system became some kind of fluffy new-agey thing that didn't make a lot of sense, when I look back on it now.

Over the last few years, my last couple of years in college, after realizing how meaningless religion becomes if you pick and choose what you want to believe from various religions (how can they all be right?)…I took on a more skeptical view (I've always been questioning and experimenting anyway) and well, now I'm an atheist. I don't know when it happened, but I know at some point it all clicked together and made sense to me. It was just a matter of becoming open about it and really using it to continue learning and understanding things about the world, how I always wanted.

For a long time that searching and playing with ideas had a lot of meaning…and I suppose that is why I believed in God, or a higher power, or “divine universal energy”, when I did. But these days I am much happier being an atheist, continuing that same kind of questioning in a newfound way in much broader territory. Reading what you write and all the documentaries you've made have really fueled my ability to come out of the closet with my new world view, and start to question the beliefs of those around me. I love the fact that there is so much more to explore and question and to understand…and how much more exquisite the world is without believing in a higher power that created it, or in an afterlife that demeans it. Thank you for helping me get to where I am with my world view.

Arielle
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