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:
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):
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.