Are you there, Dawk? It’s me, Sarah., Converts, Tue, Jun 11 2013 #(2022)

Jun 11, 2013

Dearest Dawkins (and whoever is actually reading this),
On my seventh Christmas Eve as an inhabitant of God’s green earth, I made Santa Claus a wooden ornament and left it by the cookies. Why I thought Santa could make use of an ornament modeled after a cartoon-version of his self, I do not know. Yes, thinking back, it was not a very practical gift. Nonetheless, Seven-year-old Me left it for him by the cookies. And, come Christmas morning, it and three-fourths of the cookies were gone…

A month later, I found the damned thing in the drawer of my dad’s desk. You may laugh, but Seven-year-old Me was devastated. I still remember the subsequent conversation with my mom: “No Santa?” No Santa. “And the tooth fairy?” No tooth fairy. “The Easter bunny?” Nope. All childhood imaginings were executed by a single revelation; an impressionable mind was left desolate of everything save doubt.

But from the barren wasteland of reality ascended a phoenix. Overcompensating for the faith misplaced in such foolish beings, I developed a stoic inquisitiveness. Today, as fomented by this enlightenment, my demand for reasonable explanations and the consequent accumulation of thoughts, observations, and knowledge enable me to say confidently, “I am an atheist.”
Having (briefly and insufficiently) established how and why I came to be an atheist – and, thus, that we are rooting for the same team – I will proceed to challenge you.

I classify you as a militant atheist because you actively combat religion’s pervasiveness and seek to convert people. But doesn’t this practice entail intolerance? If we actively convert people, aren’t we being intolerant of people’s current beliefs and culture? Wasn’t intolerance a major player in the Crusades? The Holocaust? The Hutu-Tutsi Conflict? [Insert any of the myriad major examples I left out]? Throughout The God Delusion you assert that we (atheists) “come out of the closet” and form a united front. And do what? Organize our intolerance, as did Hitler? Atheists, as intellectuals, should have the sense to keep history from repeating itself; we are idled by our ability to differentiate right from wrong. As atheists we are in a difficult position, for everyone hates the person that flips the light switch on while they’re sleeping; sudden exposure to light pains adjusting eyes. While I agree that we should not be apologetic or ashamed of our “deeper understandings of life” (or whatever phraseology accurately describes what sets us apart), I fear what you plan to do with this “united front”. How do we take action without being intolerant hypocrites?

It seems the only innocuous-yet-simultaneously-effective plan of action is to go around telling all the Christian boys and girls that Santa does not exist…

I am only seventeen and thereby do not claim to have all the answers. So if there is a perspective I am not considering or anything you feel inclined to retort, please do!

Sarah Schnoor

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