I Hate This Fence , Converts, Tue, Jan 29 2013 #(1428)

Jan 29, 2013

Dear Richard Dawkins,

I begin by saying I am an atheist. Your book, which I read as part of
an Apologetics class at the Moody Bible Institute, was one of the
first I read that helped me realize that my faith had been gone at the
inside for years, held up only by fear and ignorance for ages. I was
still a Christian, but only in the sense that I was terrified to be
anything else. Your work did convert me, in the sense of bringing
forward all the questions I had been asking myself and fighting with
and burying underneath mindless recitations of Biblical scripture, so
that those questions could bring me into the clear, warm light of
science and moral philosophy.

I count myself a Humanist and an Atheist. I am profoundly happy every
day I can reflect on this, and in reading your book, as well as the
works of Mr. Hitchens, Mr. Dennet, and Mr. Harris, I find new insights
to understanding and thinking about the world. Thank you for writing
it.

I have found the courage to come out to some of my closest friends
about my atheism, as I have about my rather ambiguous romantic
inclinations. They have by and large been warmly supportive, gentle,
and encouraging to me. They include Christians, pantheists, atheists,
and agnostics of every stripe, which would seem to lend anecdotal
support to your hypothesis that we are by and large good and liberal
people, save for the odd quirk of behavior and belief.

Yet I’m on the fence about the group that for years was the most
important in my life, and remains a source of personal conflict to me
– my family. I have not told my father about my conversion. He does
not know I am a Bright, nor about my romantic proclivities. For a
long time he and I were not close, though I never doubted he loved me,
nor do I doubt he still loves me.

But he’s a hard man, and a fundamentalist Christian at that. His
beliefs are contradictory, contrarian, convoluted, and wrathful. I
have no doubt whatsoever that I would lose any relationship I have
with him if I told him the truth, which tears at me even more since my
mother passed away five years ago. I do not know what to do. On the
one hand, every conversation I have with him is burdened by the
knowledge that he believes things about me that aren’t true. On the
other, I don’t want to lose what little I have left of my good ties
with him. I know the most honest choice would be sharing the truth
with him, and letting matters fall as they will, but the revelation
will hurt him and hurt me for having done so.

I wish I had the courage of those who have come out unreservedly, and
unapologetically. Sitting on this fence is tiring, and I know it
can’t last forever. Why can’t I find the courage to just step through
it, and be who I am?

Yours gratefully,

William Farlin Cain III
.

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