When my friend recommended your book “The God Delusion”, I didn’t even plan to read it. However, while I was working at my internship in 2008, I encountered the book on tape. Since my commute to work was about an hour everyday, I figured I might as well listen to it. Everyday, I became more interested in the subject matter and before I knew it, I was calling myself an agnostic. It wasn’t until the end of the summer that I realized I was an atheist through and through.
At first, I was scared to become an atheist. I thought to myself, where will I find my purpose? Interestingly, once I called myself an atheist I realized we are the purpose. As you very well know, we don’t need a supernatural creator in order for us to mean something. In many ways, “The God Delusion” artfully demonstrates the hypocrisy of religion and stands in solidarity with humankind. After all, we are the reason behind the advances of science, technology and medicine, not God. It is clear that human beings are also the reason behind war and violence, but many times this can be attributed to religion.
In any case, when I began my senior year, I wasn’t afraid to stand up for atheism. I attend a Jewish high school in Los Angeles, so my behavior was not well-recieved at first. Every year we are forced to take a Jewish theology class where we study Torah, Talmud, the list goes on. However the senior year course is called “Jewish thought”. Rather than exploring Jewish texts, the class focuses on Jewish thinkers, including ourselves. I made it clear from the beginning that I didn’t believe in God. All of my classmates, besides my best friend, despised me. They thought I was hot-headed in class, they thought I was a “know it all”. How couldn’t I be? We were studying Theodicy or God’s justice. I would ask “How can we study the justice of something that isn’t there?” The Rabbi didn’t know how to respond. At first, he didn’t appreciate my rebuttals, but as the year went on, he realized that I was the most active participant in class. I was the only student who would stay after to debate the ethics of God and theology. The Rabbi was a very well respected member of our community and the larger Jewish world so I treated him as such. However, I constantly questioned his beliefs and Judaism. At the end of the year, I received the school wide Jewish Studies award.
It came as a shock, of course, especially to my classmates. When he announced the award, he called me a holy doubter. It was an honor to receive such merit, but I was confused with the title he had given me. I have no doubt, Mr. Dawkins, there is no God. Thank you for all you have taught me, I couldn’t be a prouder atheist.