Just wanted to send an email telling you thanks for posting your website. I came across your site last Thursday night (was searching to see if there was a bumper sticker that said: Atheists Don’t Start Wars) and spent the better part of three hours reading the mail that people sent you and your responses. You have some very impressive arguments and I was thrilled to see you answer them calmly without resorting to taunting, ridicule, and hate like some of the writers did.
I have slowly been losing faith in the Christian God, or any other version of a deity, over the years since high school. For the past ten years I didn’t really think too much about it, basically acceding that it was all unknowable, but in the past year I have started to find myself becoming more of a militant atheist – but only in my mind though! I have long seen the value to many people of a strong belief system and I have never wanted to be the one that caused someone to lose their faith, for the reason that I don’t want to be the “bad guy” and also because I don’t have anything better to offer anyone as a replacement for their belief. My non-belief works for me but I don’t think it would work for others. Everyone has to evolve in their thinking on their own terms, and it has taken me a long time to come to this state. I think religion can be a wonderful belief system for living your life in peace as long as you don’t try and impose your thoughts or actions on others. With all that has been going on in the Middle East over the past few years I have become more and more angry at what I see as the basis for all this and that’s religion (I realize that religion for the terrorists might just be a convenient cover for their hate against the West and a way to build their base, but still religion gathers in too many converts for the terrorists and is fueling the fighting between the Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, not to mention Iran, and Hezbollah vs Israel).
I have kept my thoughts to myself though. when I was younger I used to like to get in debates, but I tired of it when I saw how easy it was to lose friends over something that I consider trivial and no one was changing anyone’s mind anyway. Like I mentioned I was becoming more militant in my thinking recently, but your answers and demeanor made me realize I need to be “nice”. You win people over by not being combative and condescending. I read the letter from one atheist who said some pretty mean things to his Christian friend and asked for your advice and you took him to task for it. I was really impressed with your answers. It made me realize I need to follow advice such as yours. I generally try to be as nice as I can to people anyway. I heard an interview with Penn (from Penn and Teller), who is an atheist, and he said atheism was more humane because you realize this is the only life you have so he tries to be as nice to everyone as he can now, there is no payoff of heave n after you die.
I’m writing to you just because I thought it was interesting how this topic keeps coming up for me in the past few months. In May I read “Religion and Science” by Bertrand Russell, and then read his book “Why I Am Not a Christian” in July. In August I read “Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Ehrman which concerned the many reasons for transcription errors in the bible while it was being handcopied for 1500 years until the invention of the printing press. Then last week I heard an interview on NPR with Dan Dennett on his book “Breaking The Spell” which concerns the scientific study of religion and how it is a product of evolution in humans. Then I came across your website last Thursday, and tonight this week’s Newsweek talks about the atheist approach to the recent affairs of the world. I had to write to you! Just to say thank you for your kind and intelligent approach to this subject. You made me pause and think, and reaffirm the need to be nice in this life while I can.
Oh, another interesting book I highly recommend is Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven” which concerns the Mormon church and also talks about Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of LDS. It was written in 2003 and I was convinced since I read it two years ago that Warren Jeffs would not be caught without another David Koresh-like stand-off. I’m surprised it went down last week so peacefully. By the way I completely believe Jesus existed (enough historical records back it up), just like David Koresh existed – I see a lot of parallels. Who knows what Koresh will look like to the people 2000 years from now :)
Thanks for reading my thoughts and thanks once again for taking the time to make your website!