Hello Prof Dawkins,
I can only hope you're reading this; ironically similar to the
once-familiar act of prayer. Though, I'm not exactly asking for any of
the FSM's noodly divine intervention.
I grew up in a Baptist home. The kind of place where everything is
solved with prayer. Something goes wrong? Pray about it. Test? Pray
about it. Bill? Pray about it. Distended anus? Pray about it. Okay,
the last one never happened. But this habitual act of my parents made
me ask why. Exactly why would you talk to your invisible friend, when
that friend supposedly knows about it anyway? Aren't we just wasting
time? Maybe we should study, instead of praying. God doesn't have a
history of miraculously imparting knowledge of algebra.
My deconversion was long and slow. Accepting evolution into my
worldview. Asking for evidence. Asking for reason. I slowly became
comfortable with the label “atheist”, and now I'd wear it on a badge.
I'd probably throw a smiling face on there, too. Just for fun.
I kept going to church.
When I was 16, I dropped out of high school, and started college. My
parents were encouraging about this. Turns out it was a pretty
horrible idea, but at least it was interesting. But the cost of
college got to me, and I started to worry about my parents. They were
encouraging sure- but can I bring home another bad test? It's pretty
easy to see through a mothers “I love you” face, and know their
disappointment. And now I was rejecting their lives. Angry and
frustrated with the situation I was in, I didn't register for classes
my sophomore year. I just worked at a full time job, which gave me
numerous excuses to skip church. As it is with these things, it had to
come out, eventually. It came out, alright. The day before Easter.
The most important day of the year, to them. When they're getting
ready to celebrate their ignorance, I lost it. I yelled, cussed, and
in another act of remarkable stupidity, I quit my job. And here we
are, at the ragged edge, well known to many teens who find themselves
in disagreement with their parents views on a greater level than, “You
don't understand me!”
During the intervening period, I have applied for 9 jobs (I suck at
interviews), registered for summer term, gotten into an engineering
school, read more novels than I can count on both hands, and started a
music blog. Really, not a bad way to spend two months.
Except for the isolation. The sudden cut-off from friends and family.
I've come to realize that my hometown is a complete intellectual void.
A sleeper town, leeching off Denver like a tapeworm, we practically
have more SUVs than people. There are exactly three undergrads in this
population of 300.000. I only know they exist because of the dead
looks and textbooks they carry into a coffee shop I frequent.
Professor Dawkins, I haven't read your books, but your debates and
articles are fascinating. For someone who feels so isolated, your
presence in the world is encouraging. Not for your measured and
intelligent attacks on religion, but the fact that you do so to better
humanity. The way you act in public shows remarkable patience and
humility. You're actually helping people, which is more than can be
said for most. Your work isn't just the controversy-seeds that your
opponents claim it is. Your work is educational and intelligent. I
know my situation isn't unique, and I hope other kids find how a
godless world is the most beautiful world.
“In a demon-haunted world, science is a candle in the dark.” -Carl Sagan