From the Mailbag

Although I get my share of kook mail, I’d much rather share the truly inspiring e-mails I receive – the ones that remind me why I write and give me the motivation to keep at it. I welcome the reminder that, beyond the political battles and debates that accompany every nascent reform movement, there are real people, fellow freethinkers, whose lives are affected by what we say and do. I’m always grateful to make the acquaintance of a kindred spirit, somewhere out in the wilds of the world; and if by some chance something I write strikes a chord within them, then it’s my privilege to have had that opportunity.

In the past week or so, I’ve had two e-mails I’d like to share. I reprint them here not to boast, but as proof that our efforts as advocates for atheism are not in vain – that we do have the power to make a difference in peoples’ lives by nourishing the seeds that were already latent within them.

First, from Daylight Atheism reader Andrew:

Hi Ebonmuse/Adam,

I really wanted to email you and let you know more directly how your writings, from both ebon musings and daylight atheism, have impacted my life in a positive way. I was raised catholic and was fully indoctrinated as a child all the way until College. I guess I kind of always had questions (especially in the realm of the “problem of evil”) related to what I was taught. It is amazing, looking back, that I had accepted or entertained so many of these religious assumptions and “truths”. I guess it is a testament to the power of religious indoctrination. Even if my parents only wanted the best for me they themselves were indoctrinated, and were trying their best. When I got to really hardcore questioning, closer in time to where I am now now in grad school, it was well thought out and expressed arguments and writings, like yours in particular, that helped me immensely. As a cognitive neuroscientist now working toward my PhD currently I am attempting to be as utterly honest and objective as I can. The appreciation for empirical evidence has only been increased through a clearer view of reality, and materialistic views, that I have gained with help from you. These understandings are crucial to reaching my goals and contributing to the scientific endeavor in the long run, and I wanted you to know how thankful I was for your help. I continue to read your blog and look forward to your book eagerly.

Also, I just received this letter from a reader in Chile (I don’t know if she was okay with me using her name):

Hello,

I rarely write emails to people I don’t know, but this time I had to :). I just wanted to thank you: finding your site has comfort me, open my eyes and liberate me in so many ways I can’t explain. Not only it has assured me in my atheism, but also it has given me weapons to fight with the people that try to impose their beliefs in my life, people that have make me feel sad, uncomfortable, angry and wrong. I’m chilean, I’ve been an atheist since my early teens. I’m studying laws in, which supposedly, is the best university around, but which is sadly, a catholic one (Chile is a very catholic country). I first entered the university because I was told that they embraced the natural laws doctrine, which I find obvious, but no one told me that the only natural law theory we would study was the theological one. As you can imagine, the natural law class is awful: they base the laws in God and his “eternal law” (crap crap crap. at least the other classes are good), etc. Not once I have study Kant, Descartes and other rationalists that subscribe to naturalism. I have fought with the teacher, which is a fundamentalist of course, and even left in the middle of some classes because of anger. Obviously I started looking for ways to refute the stupidities the teacher tell us (I’m not a philosopher!), and that’s how I found your website. I have your “unmoved mover” essay printed out and sticked in my natural law notebook, haha; is great to feel that that man who feels so secure about the 5 ways to prove god (saint thomas) is WRONG. But all your other essays are amazing, and a “blessing” for me; I even cried with “stardust“, though I think the same thing about the issue than you do. Reading your site is now an everyday must for me!

Well, I hope you read this mail. If you do, again, I want to thank you over and over.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Trung

    I’m not suprised. Your essays and posts are a fantastic read. Reading your work really inspires me to help others. I’ll read as long as you write.

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    Thanks for sharing these. It’s easy to wonder if blogging about atheism, rationalism, etc., is a worthwhile use of time. These emails (I’ve received similar ones) remind us that there are people who need encouragement in working through issues related to belief and non-belief.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Good job, Ebonmuse. You are indeed making a difference to people who may have a profound impact on our collective future. The ripple effect gives me hope.
    .

  • Brad

    The essays on Ebon Musings also helped me when I was at the end of my own deconversion. Many of my vague ideas formed into solid thoughts, and I saw a bigger picture of God and religion. I can easily say that EM and DA are the best atheistic resources out there – whether print or electronic – and it is not just because they are engagingly intellectual. They are strangely both very professional and very personal. An example of personal writing was Into the Clear Air.

    (Internet Infidels was likewise an awesome resource.)

    This isn’t to say I agree with everything you wrote, obviously, or that I think you have covered every type of belief. For one, you almost always assume the fundamentalist version of hell, and I was never raised with such a belief. Or at least I was raised with mixed ideas of the doctrine.

  • http://bridgingschisms.org Eshu

    I’m glad you shared this. It’s good to know that atheist writing is helpful to people other than ourselves.

    Plenty of people are atheists without having a thorough understanding of all the arguments, perhaps only the one that makes most sense to them (although this number is probably dwarfed by the number of theists who don’t understand the arguments!).

    I think atheist and freethinker websites are essential, not only to crystallise agnostic doubts into a considered atheism, but in helping atheists to ask the right questions and show the weaknesses in theistic arguments. I found ebonmusings.org especially helpful when debating with a Christian friend, and even gave him a few of the essays as a swap for his C.S. Lewis book.

  • velkyn

    I’ll have to say that Ebon Musings and this site were a welcome find and did give me the courage to stand up and be noticed. I have never found it good to keep quiet about a subject you feel strongly about. I have been lucky enough that my local newspaper often prints my letters to the editor (and the occasional longer piece) and I have *always* had people take the time to find my phone number and thank me personally for showing that there are other people who think like them, everyone from a WWII vet who helped liberate the camps and who lost any faith in a “God” to someone who was *in* those camps and who was glad that someone was willing to speak out against the fundamentalists as was a retired Lutheran minister. Strangely enough, it has always been those older than me that call. I suppose they did feel that they couldn’t say anything before atheism became more acceptable, which is sad. Yes, there is a danger in doing being an “out” atheist because of the kooks but it’s worth it.

  • Dante

    I am a first time commenter but been reading your site daily since 2005.
    Me too, since sometime June 2005 or so, I first found out and fully convinced that I am an atheist when I first read your front essay on ebonmusings.org. And that’s it.
    I become an outed atheist and very very proud of it. My first thoughts are a mixtures of joy, intellectual liberation, but also, I am sad because I know my love ones, famiies and friends will find it hard to disbelieve or accept atheism.
    But, I am working on it and I would like to really thank you.
    I will continue to read your postings and look forward to your book.
    You have really done a great job in favor of atheism more than you can imagine.
    Keep up your good work, many more will be enlightened by your essays.
    Cheers!!!!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Thank you, Dante, for those wonderful kind words. It’s always a great honor to me to hear that my writings played some role in the intellectual journey of a new freethinker. Well done, sir!

    It takes courage and preparedness to stand up for yourself, but it’s worth it. Being honest with the world is a reward that can’t be overestimated. And by standing up for yourself and spreading the good news of atheism, you may well give courage to other people you know who are struggling with the same doubts.

  • Adele

    I feel the same as Dante. Unfortunately I already posted my conversion story on a different post having not seen this one – but Ebon Musings and Daylight Atheism were by far the most helpful resources for me. I could not and would not have done it without you! I cannot express my thanks enough.

  • http://the-before-life.livejournal.com/ Sam

    I completely agree with the people who e-mailed you. You have a natural talent to write pro-atheism in a manner that uses logic, not insults, to “debunk” theistic claims. I love your writing, and I’ve been trying to read your Ebon Musings essays as of late. I haven’t read anything I haven’t liked.

    You keep my temper managed on Sundays (since I read your articles most often then, ironically) when I’m forced to go to church with my family, especially when I’m told by the priest for whom to vote in the presidential election based on who is pro-life or not (*face turns red*).

    So thank you very much, and keep up the great work! =)

  • C. M. Houck

    It is so nice to check in on your site when I get to thinking that I am surrounded by god’s bullies. Even though I usually go to an atheist meeting once a month, I like to check around for like-minded persons to get me through each week. Your site even got me enthused enough to start my own blog. So if you’d like to look in its: http://monkeywrenchthoughts.blogspot.com/ Keep on keeping on. C.

  • http://timeframesandtaboodata.wordpress.com C. M. Houck

    I still check around, but not as often as before due to some commitments. I was surprised to find a note of encouragement that I had sent some months back. To update on my blog site, it is no longer monkeywrenchthought.blogspot.com. The new one is on a book I wrote, and in which religion gets a few black eyes. If interested drop by: http://timeframesandtaboodata.wordpress.com I like your pro-atheism approach — and try not to get too grumpy around the irrational “faithful” I rub shoulders with. Keep up your positive work. C.


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