From the Mailbag: Deconversion Saturday

Out of all the correspondence I get, occasionally there’s a letter which repays, many times over, all the effort I’ve put into writing for my websites. This is one of them, which I’m sharing with the author’s permission:

Hello Adam,

I wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much your writing has influenced me. I left the church I had been raised in about four years ago and spent about a year studying various religions before looking into atheism. It was very difficult for me to be asked to defend my atheism to friends and family (who had spent decades studying their own faith) when I was still trying to figure out exactly what it was myself.

I found your website about a year ago through a link to “How to Convert an Atheist.” I read your essays and have begun working my way through the “Must Read” posts on your blog. Your writing has helped me so much. I can coherently explain and adequately defend many of the ideas that were so new to me so recently because of you. I wanted to thank you for posting such wonderful thoughts on such a wide variety of topics relevant to atheism.

Thank you so much,
Jessa Jackson

From a follow-up letter, Jessa adds:

I was raised Mormon. My family has been in the church for generations (seven on my mother’s side), my father is a bishop, I spent most of my childhood in Utah, attended four years of early-morning seminary in high school and went to BYU. So, yeah, I was very Mormon.

As frustrating as it is to debate true believers, as much of an uphill struggle as it seems to be at times, our efforts do make a difference. There are people who can be reached, and who will be better off for it. Don’t ever doubt that!

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.

  • Andrew T.

    Every little bit helps!

  • gamba

    How can someone like me ever doubt that? I’ve been reached and bettered off for it as well. Am simply waiting (working as well) to see that day when everybody else will announce ”am an atheist” Its all thanks to you Ebon, plus, alot of friends here in nigeria are reading your stuff -just a reminder. Keep doing what you’re doing. you are not a life saver but a life invester. For your efforts, me and my ones here are proud to be atheists. And to our friend, nice to meet you. JOEL GAMBA.

  • unintentionalhypocrite

    ^.^

  • Dave

    I would like to add my thank you for all of your work that you’ve done on this site as well.

    I discovered your site while reading The God Delusion last July. I had just finished a two year stint investigating several different churches, including the Mormon church (I actually read the BoM from cover to cover!) and a bible-literalist church that a friend of mine goes to, where the pasture told me flat out that the earth is 6k years old and that all moral values come from god. I was very frustrated because they were all obviously crap, but I still felt like I was lost or missing something important. I had never put much thought into religion before this, being very into science and engineering; I never thought it was important enough to bother with. Being faced with educated people that rejected the basic tenants of science was a wake up call for me.

    How exactly I came to The God Delusion I don’t remember, but I devoured it in short order. I was struck by the simple elegance of your “New Ten Commandments” and came to your site and devoured all of the main articles and must read posts, which honestly had more of an impact on me than The God Delusion did. Maybe you didn’t convert me from a devout believer to a skeptic, but your lucid writing was the first step I took toward an intellectual framework that allows me to be comfortable with myself in a world where most people I deal with are church goers that look down on me for not accepting their fantasies.

    Thank you.

  • karen

    So true. Every time I see a comment about how “nothing we rationalists do matters” or “fundamentalists cannot be reached” I think about my own story.

    Forty years steeped in fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, one glorious decade of freedom and free thought. What we do to promote science and logical thinking does make a difference!

  • http://religiousatrocities.wordpress.com Jon Jermey

    If the census figures due to be collected in Britain, Australia and Canada this year show a drop in religious belief — and they will — then a large part of the credit must go to Adam and his fellow-bloggers, and their patient but tireless efforts to drag a kicking and screaming world out of the twelfth century.

  • Alex Weaver

    And yet there are people, supposedly “on our side” who believe we should be leaving people like Dave and Jessa out in the cold and the dark.

  • Valhar2000

    This reminds me of a letter James Randi got once, which informed that it is not true that “nothing can convince a true believer”, because the letter writer himself had been a true believer but had subsequently embraced skeptical thought, with the help of Randi’s books among other things.

    Well, keep up the good work, Adam! These letters are well-deserved.

  • Valhar2000

    And yet there are people, supposedly “on our side” who believe we should be leaving people like Dave and Jessa out in the cold and the dark.

    Well, Alex, those Templeton Prizes are not going to win themselves, are they?