I would like to start with the sincerest and most genuine thanks to Richard Dawkins for being a fervent advocate for Atheism and rational thinking, more specifically for writing the God Delusion. I think I can state with certainty that if I did not come across that book and delve into it 3 years ago, I wouldn’t be alive today.
I was raised as A Jehovah’s Witness from birth. Rural town, 2nd youngest from a large family, not well to do. The religion was central in our lives and my parents enforced it’s values with strictness. Even from a young age the distaste for what I was learning was in my mouth. This Jehovah guy seemed like an evil sadist….yet he loved me, he love my family, he loved mankind. Such hypocrisy in the doctrine, in the congregation, and within my household, made for a confusing upbringing.
My childhood was tainted with a lot of bad memories of domestic troubles. My parents fought regularly, and I quickly began to despise them rather than love them. My father was an especially intimidating man, a narcissist, who showed no respect for anyone in the household, he was second only to God. I was never allowed to pursue friendships, or any areas of sports/after-school activities, and post-secondary education was discouraged. It was all especially difficult seeing that I’ve always been a relatively bright individual, with a flair for the arts and music, and most things in general. Despite my innate talents I spent most of my youth in the throws of depression and over-whelmed by suicidal thoughts. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that this is not who I am today.
Because of the dis-fellowshipping rule followed by the Jehovah’s Witness cult I was honestly scared to express any doubt.. I hadn’t a friend of any sort outside in which I could confide in. I would be all alone. Not to mention 23 years of brainwashing really challenges even the brightest minds. I would convince myself the truth was unknowable, so I might as well take the safe road. During one long winter night, in a specifically deep anti-cline of sadness, I came across Mr. Dawkin’s God Delusion online. My initial reaction was to reject it’s existence out of my mind, and deny any doubt……as of course a life-time of religious mind imprisonment would do. I have no idea what cause me to push through and disregard my “pseudo faith”, maybe it was just the realization that I am my own individual and how dare anyone control my thoughts and beliefs. I read that book unlike anything else I’ve ever read or will read. The profound logical arguments were like the most beautiful music. I began a road of self-discovery and epiphany regarding the true nature of things that brought a strange smile to my face. Everything was beginning to make sense and I was finally aligning myself with my true identity. The continuous thoughts of suicide disappeared within a week and have never returned. I was now free and life was precious.
Although that was a major turning point in my life, it has by no means been smooth sailing since then. Coming out to my parents and family/friends and consequently having them cut ties with me was incredibly hard. There was no one in my life and my social skills definitely left something to be desired. That being said, I’ve always been an introverted character. The days I spent going on long treks alone in the woods and coastlines, enjoying cannabis, and learning about the fascinating history of evolution and the cosmos…they were some of the happiest to date. A free mind- is a happy mind!
Since then (about 3 years) I’ve learned to make friends, pursue romantic relationships, enjoy what I’m passionate about, and above all live my life the way I want to. I don’t think people in general really appreciate the struggle of coming from a extreme religious background and excommunication…but I no longer use that to define my identity, so it doesn’t bother me anymore.
I’m writing this mostly as a cathartic impulse, to relay the feelings I’ve experienced, and mostly as a letter of thanks. I’m forever grateful. Sometimes fighting ignorance and obscene beliefs may seem like an unrelenting battle, but always remember there are people like I was out there, riding fences, waiting for someone to invite them to a real discussion. You might just be surprised.
Thank you Mr. Dawkins : )