Why do I write? An overly sentimental open letter to religious believers

After years of blogging/talking/dialoguing about religion, I am ashamed that I have not been able to clearly communicate my “heart.” In the last few years I have seen so many responses riddled with spite & condescension. I have heard dozens of stories of gossip and ugly rumors that have been spread about me. On days like these I am deeply disappointed in humanity, but also hopeful that we can restart everything from the beginning.

So this is my clumsy-and-sentimental open letter to all of you who are religious believers. I earnestly hope you will hear my “heart of hearts.”

 

Dear religious believer,

It’s no secret that I sincerely think that some of your beliefs are not correct, a position which I accepted very reluctantly in an effort to be as intellectually honest as possible, no matter the cost. Yet my disagreement with you doesn’t mean that I harbor hatred or spitefulness towards you.

I am not at war against you.

I am not on the side of the enemy. (In fact, our real enemy, I believe, is the cowardly intolerance, brutish unkindness, and unneeded aggression we as humans often exhibit in our foolishness.)

As strange as this may sound, I am on your side, because I care about you enough to hope you believe the truth.

Deep down, at the core of my being, I genuinely want us to share an earnest pursuit of truth together. I want us to join hands as we explore the fabric of reality and strive to understand the universe as it is. You think the answer to everything is your religion, and because I was once a deeply devout preacher who believed it with all of my heart, I totally get that and understand how it feels. And if that answer is indeed true, I sincerely want to accept it and believe it. And likewise, if its false, I want to reject it so that we can move on and discover the more accurate answers, even if we don’t like them.

I promise you this.

I really need you to understand this: I did not come to my conclusions because I am evil, wicked, stupid, daft, and most assuredly not because I hate you or want to offend you.

I am not here to cram some ideology down your throat or to promote a sinister agenda. I am not here to justify some secret sins, nor because I am angry and want to bring about revenge against someone that hurt me.

I really don’t have a wicked plan to wage war against all the infidels, heathen, sinners, or fools, in fact, I hate all those words. I certainly don’t want to make a deep line of division that will separate people into camps, “sinners vs saints” or “smart vs dumb.” As strange as it may be for you to believe this, the fact of the matter is, I want the very opposite.

I earnestly believe we can make the world a better place, where religious and existential dialogue is kind, friendly, helpful, and most importantly, honest. Where people are not degraded for their beliefs, even as these beliefs are challenged. I want to live in a world where people are are not indoctrinated, nor shamed, shunned, mocked, or frightened into submission, but instead share a deep passion for seeing the world as it really is.

This is why I “waste” so much of my time writing and discussing these matters. It’s not to offend you or degrade you, but because I want to be helpful to you.

Deep down, I really do care for you. When you try to “evangelize me,” do you not do this because you care for me and want to “save my soul”? In the same way, when I try to persuade you, I do this because I really do care about you and I care about the truth.

What do I want?

If I am wrong, I sincerely want you to use sound reason and good evidence to convince me of that, so I may join you (don’t merely call me names, gossip about me behind my back, or threaten me with hell – as is unfortunately all too common). If I am wrong, at least I will have sharpened your thinking, and helped you correct some serious flaws in your theology (surely you don’t claim to have all of the perfect answers, perhaps there is something you can learn from me).

If you are wrong, I want you to become aware of this, so that you may join me in being “less wrong” and seeing our universe as it really is instead of believing the wrong answers. Consider that billions of people in the past believed things you now accept are false, surely if you were an ancient Greek polytheist, you would have wanted me to tell you Zeus doesn’t really exist, even if that would upset your worldview? No?

Surely if you are wrong, you want to know that? Don’t you? I certainly do.

I want to make you think, carefully and critically. I want to help you consider your faith with as much scrutiny as you consider the beliefs of other religions or philosophies. I want to make you care more about the truth than what people will think of you. I want to encourage you prefer the truth over comfort and safety. I wish that you would learn to be more fair when examining other peoples religions and perspectives, and learn to be more critical of your own. And I want you to kindly encourage me do the same.

At the end of the day, I want you to join me on this honest journey to pursue the truth, and whether it takes us to Christianity, Buddhism, Atheism, or something even stranger, I want us to walk together in honesty and kindness, willing to accept the truth, whatever it  really is, even if we don’t like it.

9 responses

  1. Could not have said it better Yuriy! Thank you for articulating what I have been struggling to do so with my own friends/family. If truth is truly represented by ones’ religion (or even lack thereof), then it’s curiosities and conclusions must be pursued wherever they may take us—even to the so-called “dangerous” places.

  2. Define “good evidence.” That’s a nice qualification you snuck in, which essentially doesn’t help dialectic. For example, Dawkins considers Polkinghorne an idiot, no matter the evidence.
    I think the presupposition that God (or gods) demand evidence is fraught with impossible problems. Evidence is grounded in the individual alone – at least when it comes to deities. The arguments will never stop until people recognize the futility ad infinitum.

  3. Yura keep up the good work! Someone has to ask the questions and touch subjects not taken into consideration in our churches. People will always try to attack the one who is actually doing something. Don’t back down! I want you to know that your blogs always get my husband and I thinking and discussing our “religion” and beliefs. We must strive to understand the truth because only the TRUTH will set us free! Gob bless you!

  4. Youriy consider this- One of the best proofs that Bible is true is the Jewish people and county of Israel. People without a land scattered among nations survived for 2000 years keeping language and their traditions and beliefs in God. This would not be possible if God was not behind them. Throughout the history devil tried to wipe these people of the face of the earth because they are the greatest proof that Bible is true and that God stands behind His Word. Gods Word said that he will gather them in the last days and after 2000 years being scattered on 14 May 1948 Country of Isreal was established fulfilling the prophesy and against all adds still stands.

  5. Reading your about me section i think you are the Russian Rob Bell.

    Blows my mind how a solid Christian can fall into agnosticism. Proves nothing but the shallow hollow veneer their faith was. Christianity is an experiential thing. Not a scientific or philosophical exercise. 1 cor 1 and 2 state Gods hides the truth from much of those who are ‘wise’ and leaned. The scribe and scholar (id add scientists).

    It pleases him to stupify the proud who rely on their own resources. That no man would boast in his pressence. Sadly…you are at present just a fulfillment of this scripture. Maybe God has a time to bring u enlightenment and repentance. But he also may not.

  6. Have you considered that the seat of emotions is a metaphysical heart, not the physical heart?

    You mention it in your comments, but then revert back to the physical?

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