Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(875)

Jan 30, 2013

Dr. Dawkins,

I'm grateful to you and the other three 'horsemen' for enlightening me about the universe. Although I would prefer not to use the word converted, I'm certainly leaning heavily on your side. I haven't thoroughly considered theology, so I don't feel qualified enough to decide yet, for I've only seriously ventured into the disbelieving side as a way to balance my semi-brainwashed mind. I don't want to be misled by either a priest or a scientist on this matter (granted, not all scientists are disbelievers), so I've adopted a sort of cynical view of the truth. However, you have created a storm of thoughts in my mind recently.

Here's a brief summary of how you've entered my life:

I was raised by a Christian family in Mexico, a predominantly Christian country (95%) where there was close to no opportunity to think about the disbelieving side. I attended church as everybody else in my town, literally, and considered the sermons without thinking much of them. They seemed to me like stories that even I could write at my young age. Thankfully, I wasn't indoctrinated as a child, and I was allowed to consider other ideas which is why, thinking in retrospect, I applaud your anti-child abuse proposition of educating children about different ideas on the subject. I guess my first glimmer of light was when I mentioned sex to my grandmother one day and she told me, with her laid-back tone, “The Bible says you shouldn't do it before marriage, but it's ok if you do it a few times.”

It was perhaps then that I began to question whether any part of the Bible should be adhered to with any conviction. This disposition grew in me when I moved to the U.S. and learned that different cultures don't agree on certain ideas, just as different branches of Christianity quarrel with each other. Still, I let the issue rest in the back of my mind as a petty concern. It was only just recently that the issue exploded in my mind. I moved out of my parents' house and into a college dorm, where I could think independently and I began to rethink everything I had been taught. Suddenly the truth became crucial to me, like Neo in The Matrix. However, unlike him, I have found nothing “out of the ordinary” lurking around in the shadows.

Perhaps there's a genetic similarity between us disbelievers (brights, freethinkers, whatever might be the best term). As you say, we tend to be independent and perhaps more intelligent than the average believer. Certainly we seem more logical.

A funny thought I used to entertain was this: I used to picture myself as having the potential to be God's best follower… but I never encountered God, so how could I follow him? If I was to be provided with good evidence of his existence then, I said to myself, I would become his most zealous follower. He never came, and now I'm glad he didn't, for it would be a tragedy to live in Orwell's 1984.

I've already forgotten how I found you on youtube.com, but it has benefited me for the rest of my life.

Thank you,
“It's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.” -Richard Feynman.

Jeffrey ten Grotenhuis
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