Hello Professor Dawkins, my name is David Greyson. I’m a 24 year old who was born and raised in the Buckle of the Bible Belt, Oklahoma. I’m messaging you not only as an admirer of yours, but a concerned citizen of the United States. I grew up in a mixed religion household (Jewish Father/Catholic Mother), but what is perhaps the most odd is that both my parents are highly successful doctors and respected in their respective fields of Pathology for my mother and Internal Medicine for my father. Not nearly as religious as many of the people you interview. I suppose you might consider them “reform” in both their religions. My father, a very methodical man, i can tell has forced himself to think about dropping god all together. He said this came up when he saw young children dying of cancer, who hadn’t lived long enough to have done anything wrong, and it made him question, “Why would the killing of children be a part of any God’s plan?” I’m proud of him for thinking of this question, because since about the age of 13 or 14, i realized i didn’t believe in God. Or any gods for that matter. It all fell apart for me when i was around 9 and i asked my mother if Santa was real, and if the Easter Bunny and tooth fairy were real. She boldly said no, with a face on like she had dreaded the day i would ask her this. I always thought that Santa was more ridiculous than Jesus or Moses ever was, and so i started to really question it. School and getting tormented at school for being “part-jewish” got in the way for many years, so my questioning was marred by my then defensive stance on religion. I always felt i had to stand up for what my parents believed in, so i almost had to take on the role of a believe to convince people to leave me and my family alone. Then around 16 i stopped buying what i was selling myself. I wasn’t these things i claimed to be, but i should still defend people’s right to believe what they wanted to believe. After all, we live in a free country right? So i pushed back the bullies, and toughened up, and became scientifically intelligent, to smash their logic into a fine powder upon any attack of me or my family.
A couple years went by, and some strange things happened to me. When i was 18 years old, i was struck by lightning while on my home golf course across the street from where i live. Lucky enough to make it out relatively unscathed i asked myself an important question, “what do you think about God now?” And instead of assuming that i had literally been smote, i reasoned within my own mind that if “God’s plan” to convert me back involved trying to kill me, then he was just as capricious and pernicious as you and i and most atheists agree he was. Childlike, simple, petty, yet loving, and merciful? Talk about hypocrisy at an unfathomable level . Later that year i was involved in a severe car accident that once again could have nearly killed me. Luckily i just walked away with a severe concussion on both sides of my head, and many scrapes and bruises. “Man, i must be the devil incarnate right?” i mean nothing seems to kill me, and i’m definitely not qualified to go to heaven at this point. Many people told me these were signs from god, but then as if some holy beacon appeared in the darkness (sarcasm), i saw a video of you getting asked “what would you say to god if you met him after you died?,” and you gave the most brilliant retort, “Well i would ask which one are you? are you Zeus? are you Thor? are you Yahweh? And why did you go to such great lengths to conceal yourself?” And boom! i had my retort to that question from 18 years old until present day.
Since i was about 20 years old i have been an “out and proud” Atheist. If ever asked directly, i say it without hesitation, but i am respectful, as it was how i was raised in the South. I still, when i go home for the holidays, light the Menorah, and read the passages with my father, and open up presents underneath the Christmas tree with my family. It’s out of respect for them that i comply, and besides, traditions can be beautiful and wonderful in their own ways. i see these holidays as a way to unite my family from all cross the country, not as religious events. I don’t mock it, but i refuse to condone it.
I apologize for the long message, but i may never get another email to you again, and this is the first time i have ever tried messaging something such as yourself.
The Reason I am Messaging You:
I now live in Los Angeles where the Atheist community is growing in leaps and bounds thanks to the internet and online support groups. I want to help a group of these non-believing people, and create a documentary about Atheism. Yes you have done many yourself, which is why i want to show how much Atheism is growing. I want to show that there are younger and younger people choosing logic over fantasy everyday, and that as our scientific knowledge increases, the need for a God in our society decreases. I would love it if you could help make this happen. Perhaps offer up any ideas and/or resources you might have access to, just because your resources and knowledge of the right people to talk to is far more vast than mine. I admire you to the point of nearly loving you as friend from a far, and one day i do hope to meet you. If nothing ever comes of this email, so be it, but just know that if you are reading this, you made a life goal of mine come true. I hope one day, as an actor and comedian, to have half the reach you do in the world, and i promise to all that is science to use my abilities for good and not for evil. Why you may ask? Because it’s the Atheist thing to do 😉
Editor’s Note: We invite the RDFRS’s community to comment on ways they might assist or guide David as he pursues his ambition to create a documentary on young people in atheism.