Because now and again, we ought to share one of these letters:
I know you probably won't have time to respond to this but I just wanted to send a little email saying how much of an impact you've had on my belief system and honestly, my life.
I was a Christian for six years, (I'm currently a 19 year old male) and only recently did I start caring about whether or not I had justification for my belief. I had always just gone with what my parents told me. I mean why would they lie or give me bad information? Even though I would occasionally ask questions on WHY they believe, I would be looked downed upon for asking those things. Well I started to do some research and found your myriad of videos. I was always a critical and skeptical thinker (outside of the self justifying circular religious arguments) and enjoyed listening to you guys speak. Finally, the taboo questions my family would tell me to disregard were being addressed. The way you debate and get down to the heart of the issues is simply poetic.
Things like morality, evolution, and the big bang... Things that I was oblivious to because of my upbringing. Turns out my biggest issue was simplpy: knowledge. And a lack thereof. I didn't know about cosmic background radiation, or what evolution actually asserts. (Funny thing, my high school biology teacher was a Christian and tried to make everything sound so far-fetched, that magic from God was the only rational option.)
The story of Jepthah, and the laws in Leviticus, Exodus, and Deuteronomy. Rape victims who don't scream loud enough are in the wrong? Laws on how to properly beat your slaves? Even if the argument is "Well it was appropriate for that time period" you're still siding with an intelligent being who allowed and even promoted those things. Sounds like people of the time period thought it was good.
I couldn't do it. I couldn't get behind a God with the knowledge I have now. It's finally possible for me to be a good person without being shackled to religion. I can now ask questions and live being open-minded. The answers that once were "God did it" are now "I don't know", and those humble three words allow for a search of more knowledge than I never thought possible. How was the universe created? We're not sure, but we have a pretty decent idea supported by evidence, and let's try to find out more! Who knows how much knowledge and technology would have come to a halt, had people accepted "Whelp, God did it!". It'd be plain detrimental to the advancement of humanity.
If you've read this far, Matt, I love you, and thanks for doing what you're doing. You make a huge difference and probably don't get told that enough...Thank you for the atheist experience.
(Oh and that 10% of my income back really helps in paying the bills.)
And just to add, I didn't edit one word of it. Note how much more literate this sounds than letters that are critical of us! Sorry, couldn't pass that up.