I was born and raised in a small (14,000) town in Texas to parents who were college-educated and devout Christians. They took me to Sunday School and church and brainwashed me as thoroughly as they could. I always had some discomfort and some questions, but devoted my time and energy elsewhere. Although I had loved science I did not study it in college except for Physics and a very dry course in Geology (in the late l950,s), I was never taught anything about evolution, but I understood from my Father’s warning me against the idea that it was a concept feared by him and by the church.
After I was married and had a son I began to think I wanted to actually understand and “walk the walk” so to speak, so I did some bible studies—which actually raised more questions for me, as did trying to make sense of the Trinity and why Jesus needed to die to save us. Still I embraced Christianity and was too busy with life in general to question the idea that I received from the pulpit that I was surely just unworthy if prayer didn’t work and I doubted the theology.
Finally I found a bible study that was actually more of a University correspondence course and taught how and when the bible was written. What an eye-opener! There was no bible until over three hundred years after Jesus died, and the decision as to what went into it was quite political. There were no original copies, and the different books were written over a great span of time, etc. etc. Thus the light went on for me, and I realized how I’d been misled and brainwashed.
I was, for a time, angry with my parents—but I had to accept that they just did with their children what had been done to them, and move on. I just felt so FREE! Life began to make sense, and I started buying and reading books—including, memorably, THE SELFISH GENE. I read about the Universe and I read about evolution, and Darwin, and on and on. I discovered the writings of Dan Barker—before that I read Steve Allen’s book about his actually reading what the bible says. At that time I’d written about 40 pages along the same lines—he had written the book I was trying to write!! But much better, no doubt, plus he had the celebrity to find an audience.
I especially love your book, THE GOD DELUSION, and so admire the fact that you are always able to “call a spade a spade” and not apologize or appease. My parents died without knowing of my apostasy, which is just as well, but my sister cannot quite forgive my loss of faith. Very few of my friends really know how I feel—I hate that, but lived too long surrounded by Christians to be more honest with them. I have been free for over 20 years. Fortunately my husband and son are also atheists, and at least a few really close friends know and still love me or in two cases, agree with me. It’s very hard in the United States—so thank you very much for being such a beacon of light and encouragement to me (and many others!).
It is truly wonderful to be excited about the wonders of the natural world, and to be freed of religion and it horrors—again thank you, and keep it up.