This was originally posted on a horrible site called Myspace. When Myspace underwent a redesign in Fall 2010, hundreds of insightful reader comments that had been left over the years were lost. I have since deleted my account there.
Update: I borrowed one of the ideas from Derek's letter for a line in my new video, "A Christian Meets The Invisible Pink Unicorn."
My intention in making my series of YouTube satires is not to directly turn Christians into non-Christians, but rather to embolden other nonbelievers to speak up and be heard -- in a way, to pass on the effect Sam Harris's book Letter to a Christian Nation had on me. To realize, as Bill Maher puts it, that "we're not the crazy ones." Still, I occasionally get notes from former Evangelicals who say I had a hand in helping them give up their faith. The following is one of the best and most gratifying examples:
Hello Mr. Current. My name's Derek, a 19-year-old student. Let me tell you a bit about my childhood. I was raised a devout Christian. I attended church every week, went to Christian concerts, handed out pamphlets, wore a cross around my neck -- the whole deal. I believed that the earth was 6,000 years old and that the Grand Canyon was caused by the great flood. As I grew older, I realized that I had a gift of reason that most of my friends and family did not possess. I started to notice flaws within my belief system -- flaws that I could not explain. Since my faith in God was so strong, I merely began to view religion more liberally, drawing on the teachings of Buddha and Hindu deities in addition to those of Moses and Jesus. However, this did not satisfy my mind, and I spent so many nights crying and praying to God that he would show himself to me. Ultimately, I broke completely from the faith I had grown up with. I began to research science -- biology and physics -- to gain a more thorough and accurate understanding of the world. I read the works of Darwin, Hawking, Einstein, and Dawkins, and everything became clear to me. I finally learned to push the deadly concept of god from my mind, and it is the greatest thing I have ever done for myself. I truly appreciate the amazing and awe-inspiring universe that wholly consumes and belittles us. I now realize that I am not separate from nature -- I am a part of it, like every other living organism. I finally take full responsibility for my misdoings towards others instead of justifying it in bed at night by saying I am forgiven by some omnipresent (yet persistently elusive) father figure. In short, I have really never felt happier.
The catalyst for all this -- the driving force that started this snowball enlightenment -- was you, Mr. Current. I found one of your videos over a year ago on YouTube while looking for something quite the opposite. Although I didn't agree with your message, I was entertained and eventually watched all of them. Your take interested me deeply, and it helped me to find some solid ground when everything else was shaky. For that, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am a strong atheist, and I don't know if I could have done it if it wasn't for you.