I know that you probably don’t get the chance to read or respond to these letters, but I’m going to write this anyway.
First, let me begin by telling you a little bit about my background. I grew up in a Calvinist Southern Baptist home and was homeschooled for most of my life. The Southern Baptist doctrine never felt quite right to me, so at 18 when I moved out of my parent’s house, I begin to attend other churches and study other christian denominations. I was very much a right-wing conservative christian, so I never even considered other religions at that time.
I finally ended up settling in an Assembly of God church and went from only attending the worship service on Sunday mornings at the Baptist church to being at the Assembly of God church every day of the week except one and twice on Sundays. I was a youth leader, worked in the nursery, sang on Sunday when possible, was part of the drama team; in short, I very involved with every aspect of the church that I could be. I attended every function, meeting, camp, and revival. When I joined the Air Force, I kept up with my religion at first.
My crisis of faith came when I talked my roommate into going to church with me. She had classic Native American beliefs, which I didn’t know at the time, but agreed to attend with me. While we were there, the pastor preached a sermon on converting people to christianity, and being intolerant of other religions. He reiterated what I had always been taught; that my faith was the only “right” one. She and I discussed it when we left, and I found out about her beliefs. Having grown up in the “Bible belt” where everyone I knew was christian, I had never considered that there were other belief systems outside of christianity. I had only encountered disagreeing denominations. Everyone was christian at the core, they just differed on the smaller issues. Here was someone who didn’t believe in christianity at all, but she was one of the kindest, and most generous people that I had ever known. It planted a seed of doubt that maybe my belief system wasn’t the only one that was right.
So, I began to study other religions as well. I have spent years studying the spectrum of religions. I studied every form of christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Wicca, Scientology, Shinto and Taoism. During this time, I discovered the professor Bart Ehrman and the wealth of information contained in his books. I also discovered Sam Harris. I began to realize that everything that I believed about christianity was wrong. I converted from christianity to wicca, but still didn’t find what I was looking for.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that there is no god(s). But if there is no god, then what is left to us? This question was answered for me by you and professor Lawrence Krauss. I ran across his lecture “A Universe From Nothing”, which I found absolutely fascinating. It sparked my interest in theoretical physics. It was also linked to the 12 part discussion between the two of you. After I sat and listened to everything, I did some research and found out who you were, then went out and bought your book ‘The God Delusion’. It is now a permanent part of my library. I absolutely love it, and recommend it to anyone who will listen, along with Sam Harris’ Letter to A Christian Nation.
It has been a long road to where I am, and I have had no support. My family are all devout christians and still tell me that I need to “get right with god” and that I am going to hell. I still live in the Bible belt, and have encountered a lot of bigotry from anyone who finds out that I am an atheist. Thanks to you, Mr. Krauss, Mr. Harris and others like you though, I am no longer afraid to speak out against religious fundamentalism. I believe that religion is destroying our world and if we don’t speak up now, then it will soon be too late.
Even if you don’t read this letter, I hope that it gives someone else encouragement. Thank you for your time. 🙂