Dear Mr. Prof. Richard Dawkins,
My name is Çağrı Mert Bakırcı and I am a Turkish student, studying in Middle East Technical University, Turkey.
My questioning of life and religion has started a little bit earlier than other people, about at the age of 10. Although Turkey has always been in a religious fundamentalist position, most of them uneducated in terms of collage/university education or even high school education, I have always had an educated and questioning friend environment. Also, I accept that, the “hidden” pressure on people who question the religion have triggerred the anarchist side of mine and that led me to the questioning of religion, Islam, God, Allah and all the other so-called divine and religious stuff at a very young age.
I first started questioning: “What I am really believing in?” And this question was because of the fact of realizing the reality that the prayers of mine was changing literally nothing in my life. At that ages, about 8-9, you pray for small and useless things like toys, having a girlfriend (the first girlfriend, actually), etc. You know, I was thinking that these shouldn’t be this much difficult for the so-called “creator of everything” (Allah, in our case)! OK, I was accepting that I must be a good little boy to have those, but even if I were, my wishes and subjects of prayers had always been realized at unexpected times or at times that I knew the reason why it is realized. To clarify, I had prayed for an atari (the most primitive game console) at the age of 6-7 for a long long time and nothing had happened. After I stopped praying about it, about 2 years have passed and my mum promoted! And after that, as my parents knew my wish because I told them too many times (I was playing safe even at that age), very reasonably, they bought me an atari. Some other failed prayers like this suddenly made me realize that, my wishes had nothing to do with a God! It was only about the “correct timing” of life. I made some experiments and observations about prayers and realized that nothing was happening by chance; I mean no wish needed a prayer! The wishes were coming true, because the variables in the equation leading to a success of wish was turnin out to be positive! And that was why, people think that God was doing something and they keep praying. Actually nothing was affecting the life, there was only too many variables.
After realizing this, I started to question the different areas of religion. All of them had logical explanations. Nothing seemed to be “divine” or nothing seemed to be “extraordinary”. That was the time I stopped praying and trying to analyze the variables behind my wish and change them, serving to my needs and wishes. That meant working and working hard. And that made me realize, people were praying, because they were afraid to change things. They were afraid, because they did not find the power to change things in themselves. That was why they were not aware of and I was.
My questioning and justifying the argument that every divine thing can be explained have been continuing since that time! At the age of 14, I read Quran for the first time and I was still a believer but not like I used to. But still, I read the book as a believer, in my own language, Turkish and tried to find out where I was wrong about religion, where I was wrong about Allah, where I was wrong about prayers, etc. I was not wrong! I was shocked when I finished reading! I remember telling myself “Is that the ‘Great Book’ that have been shaping people’s lives! You must be kidding me!” There was nothing in that book. Lots of repetitions, lots of psychological supressions, lots of mythological children stories, lots of junk! The book was supposed to be “universal and beyond time” but even the simplest moral and judicial arguments it tried to made was unacceptable in the 21st century! People had kept telling me that science was only repeating the things Quran said 1400 years ago but there was only 5-6 scientific information (which is a shame for me to call “scientific” to that stuff) which had known until before Christ (BC)! There was nothing new! Even I could understand these with the knowledge of life I had in High School years, how possibly could people still believe in these things, that was what I couldn’t understand. Then I stopped and start thinking extra-critically. Something was wrong about these people, these book. And then I realized, noone was even reading the book! People had been reading the book in Arabic (which they do NOT know how to speak or understand) and they were just “memorizing” it. The knowledge of them was coming from funny religious TV programs and books, which were just the interpretations of some other people! That was incredibly insane! How could it be? This was a book that had been supposed to change and shape your life and you don’t even bother to read it! Incredible!
After realizing this, everything changed too fast for me. I started reading, inquiring, investigating, examining the realities behind religion. I found out that everything we know has always been based on lies, human stories and/or human nature. Every single religious story, every single religious law had a logical and scientific meaning and explanation. It didn’t have to be divine!
At the age of 16, I started to feel and act like an atheist, or more like an agnosticist, I would say. I was sure that all religions were lies! They were human-made and had scientific and basic explanations: How they arose, how they spreaded, how they were believed, what techniques did the writers of these books used to make people believe, how people were forced to believe these books, and millions of realities about religion. I was not pretty sure of God’s (or Allah’s) being because I could find neither prooves nor refutations for its being. And that was when I felt like I must wake up the most people I can from the child story they were believing in: Religion.
That was the time, I met your books, dear Mr. Professor Dawkins. I read all of your books in less than 2 months and I analyzed them. I saw that we were thinking almost the same (but you had more knowledge than me, of course). That really connected me to your ideas, sir. And you gave me hope & power that we could change something. That we shouldn’t be ordinary atheist. That we should spread the truth abour life. Forget about subjective phenomena of “truths”. We must spread the “realities” of life! And realities are objective. They do not accept any Gods, any wishes, and “believes”. Realities only accept, what is a “reality”. What must be accepted by every single human being. And I realized that the quest of reality was being made by a source called “science”. That was the time, my science love began unstoppably.
I really fell in love and started with the most favourite subject of mine: Biology. I started reading about cells, organisms, taxonomy, etc. just as a hobby. Then I met Evoulutionary Biology and this changed my life. I read the “Origin of Species” by Darwin (I wish I could read the 1st edition), I read the books about the analysis of the Origin of Species, I read many books about the Theory of Evolution annd Abiogenesis Theory, including yours, dear Stephen Jay Gould’s and many more’s. And I was not the type to just do research on somethings and let it be. I needed to spread the realities to others. So I started to become members of websites and organizations. I started debating on religion, God and Evolution wih my friends, with people whom I don’t know.
That was not enough for me. I started reading on Astrophysics, Physics and Quantum Mechanics. I wanted to learn the realities of the universe. I read Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Richard Gott, Steven Weinberg and many more. I was becoming more and more knowledged about life and realities of the universe. And I didn’t stop there, also:
I had the ability to write essays. Long ones, like this letter of mine. Even many times longer ones. I started writing articles abour religion, science, philosophy and fate. I started learnin Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Physics, Quantum Physics and many more. I read over 300 books in a period less than 2-3 years. I read the most famous physicsts, biologists, philosophers, thinkers, and so on. I created my own life vision, which was based on atheism (but not the conventional one, the one we call “The New Atheism”). I increased the number of debates I was attending (usually not formal ones) and increased the number of essays I write in the following years.
Now, I am 21 years old and I am still debating, writing and researching. I am, unfortunately, not a biologist or physicist but I am interested in these more that anything and I keep reading and researching.
Now I am almost sure that (science never claims certain results, as you know, sir) any form of God does NOT exist. All religions and Gods themselves are the creation of human mind. We are all in a fairy tale, being told by our parents, and bein brainwashed from the very beginning of our childhood.
I am still trying to spread the reality. I created a blog of myself, writing on these. I am writing at the largest website of Turkey, who brings only the university students together. I am trying to start debates on these issues anywhere I am at and I am trying to trigger people to think, to investigate, to question their believes and what they take for granted.
Dear Mr. Richard Dawkins, my only wish is to meet a great professor like you and at least talk about these issues for just 10 minutes. I know it is funny but I really would love to share my ideas with you personally. If you may be interested in this offer of mine, please write me back and I can arrange anything to meet you personally.
Before finishing my words, I see myself as the “Turkey’s branch” of yours. Because we are headed to the same direction, just in different countries. I will never stop spreading what I believe is true and my love of science will never end. You have a great part in these feelings of mine and I want to thank you for this.
I wrote just an insignificant portion of my life and insignificant portion of my ideas in this letter. I hope you write me, Mr. Dawkins, at least positively or negatively. I just want to know that you have read this letter of mine.
Keep spreading the reality.
Cagri Mert Bakirci