From Not My God
Here in the Not My God penthouse, I’ve realized that I’ve been doing this blog for almost a year. Praise Darwin! I’m acknowledging the milestone a little early since I’ll be in Germany meeting my new nephew soon and probably away from the blog.
I’ve certainly learned a lot about the subject matter and gotten a lot to think about through this book project. I conceived Not My God in the first place around Darwin’s 199th birthday party when I heard through Boston Atheists about a teenage boy in the area who was an atheist and lived with his grandmother, who was religious, and he knew she would kick him out of the house if he let her know he was an atheist. That got me thinking that there must be many stories like that. I also knew that if this could happen in the Boston area, it must be many times worse in the Bible Belt. I wanted to illustrate how Americans hate and persecute atheists, and how this is relevant in the New Atheist movement.
Through networking, I found potential interviewees and selected 20 that I thought should be included in the book; I interviewed two of these and wrote sample chapters. The stories and characters were so much larger than life that people assumed I had written fiction.
Thanks to all of you who have contributed your stories or thoughts to this project. I realize that, anonymous or not, it takes a lot of chutzpah.
The most important fodder I’ve gotten from this blog is the debate that maybe atheists deserve to be hated. I admit that there is a lot of truth behind that point of view and I can’t reconcile it.
Back to the subject matter, here’s something from Dawkins’s Converts Corner:
“I am 42 years old and was born into a multi-generational Mormon family–a descendant of polygamists on both sides of my family. Like so many others I was taught that it was a sin to ‘delve into the mysteries’ that god had not yet revealed. All literature that told Mormon history from an objective perspective was labeled anti-Mormon and of the devil. I began my departure from Mormonism last year after stumbling across some objective information regarding the history of the church…
“So, Dr. Dawkins, I am on board. This has got to stop. I have three little girls under 5 years old and my soon-to-be ex-wife wants to raise them in the cult. Now that I have broken free, I must now wrestle my daughters free from the grips of such a destructive cult. My family reminds me that so many of my ancestors gave so much for the faith–some crossed the plains pulling handcarts. I find it sad that they were deluded into the pain and suffering and polygamy. The indoctrination and brainwashing is incredibly powerful and difficult to penetrate with reason.
“In all cults, those who leave are labeled as bad, deceived, evil, etc. So it is with me. My wife, many in my family, and former friends all believe I am the bad guy. I read Raven about Jim Jones and the People’s Temple cult. It is a great book, and a fascinating example of cult dynamics. It helped me recognize the same dynamics at play in my religion. There were striking parallels between Jim Jones in isolated Jones Town and Brigham Young in isolated Utah in the 1850s.
“The good news is that I am now living life for the miracle that it truly is. I was in many respects waiting for heaven instead of living life. I recently was asked by a Mormon how I could be an Atheist. I explained that it was not really that far from Mormonism. Mormons believe that all other churches are false, so there is only one more to disprove. Thank you for helping me to shake off the anesthetic of familiarity and to see this world for the amazing place that it truly is.
David Arnold, proud Atheist
Las Vegas, Nevada”