Dear Max,

            I hope this letter finds you in high spirits. Sorry for writing to you so late. You see, my schedule is hotch-potch. I get up, stumble through my way to the shower, wake up with a cloudy head, drive 50 miles for work, play golf in the evening, and then, I have pretty much nothing to do. Dana goes for cycling or to work out for do whatever. The kids have their own stuff. So, I resort to my teenage proclivities and indulge in partying downtown. It has created a rift between me and Dana. I miss our youth! She was a believer and I debated her out of Christianity. Ever since, she has not been the same and I must say that I miss Dana. I remember how she came as an angel when I was so distant from my Dad, who was hooked on drugs.

            Well, the purpose of this letter is twofold. First, I want to apologize for treating you badly last Christmas. You were all about this Jesus thing the whole time and I insulted you in front of others. Now I realise that I was being the stingy Scrooge. I am sorry. I was the one who always talked about inclusivism, equality of ideas, humanity, compassion and stuff, but I did exactly the opposite of that. In fact, I have been noticing that my atheist friends do exactly the same. We preach about inclusivism and we do include everyone, except those who differ from us, especially Christians. Honestly, one reason why we steer clear of you Christians is that you guys refer to reason with your faith, while we appeal to emotions. We live in a utopia where no one, for sanity’s sake, will point fingers at others, especially in the name of some ancient document. Please be honest now and tell me; doesn’t that seem despotic to you? Now, please keep my confession of an atheist’s attitude confidential because if my non-Christian friends come to know about this, they might ostracise me too. I am not saying that they will be cruel and unjust but um… you know what I mean, don’t you?

I have been thinking lately and I came to the conclusion that while we converse a lot about morals, compassion, inclusivism, social justice and other sugar coated topics, we employ emotions more than reason. Also, we kind of disconnect our philosophy from practical life. I am fascinated by how you Christians never lose your cool when others disagree with you. I am a big fan of Sam Harris who is a strong, avowed atheist but is still a very moral and decent guy. That is one thing we will have to learn for civil discourse, else we will raze our own credibility. The other day I saw the debate between Sam Harris with William Lane Craig. Boy! I must confess that the case for Christianity is invincible. However, don’t you think that somehow! That somehow, by some ounce of a miracle, if you will, we can cohabit peacefully without God? Yes! We might not have an absolute standard for morality but we sure can muddle through somehow! I’d like to have your views on this.     

Now, the second issue is my intellectual struggle. Let’s grant it for a moment that God exists; then what about all the suffering, pain and tragedy in this world? How can you ever reconcile between the All Powerful God and the hell that rages on this Earth on daily basis? I have observed that you Christians never play down the severity of this issue, and you deal with it in a rather serene way, which of course is mind-boggling for me and I am sure for others like me too. Tell me, however, your views about that. The other question is that if God exists, why are there so many problems in my own life? Why doesn’t God prove his existence in an evident way? I do feel sometimes that there is a power in the universe which is bigger, deeper, higher, intelligent and moral. However, my feeling or that inner voice seems to threaten my atheistic identity. So, if God reveals Himself in a much more tangible way, not just to me but also to those who are in my social circle, I would be much quicker to make my transactions. You see, it is a threat to my identity and my fraternity. 

I hope that you are sympathetic towards my situation. I do not want to lose my social circle. More importantly, I do not want to look like a fool before the world. Haven’t you noticed how people these days demonise those who carry ideas different from their own? They are ready to accept all odd looking, odd sounding and odd behaving peculiarities with all their bizarre idiosyncrasies, but when it comes to ideas, they are more barbaric than inclusive. On one hand, people from my camp claim that all ideas are equal but their actions contradict their claim, which is also very confusing to me. Sometimes I miss love. And when I do, I feel envious of you Christians. You all love each other so much. I listen to your arguments about the existence of God and I do feel a rational tug at that time! But when you show love and forgiveness, I feel a heart-wrenching, deafening shout that calls on me to re-look at my atheistic position! I find myself in a tug of war between the truth and my reputation.

Lastly, again, if you can find in your heart to forgive me, please do. I am sorry for being rude. I never told you that when I see you, I do sense that life has a meaning, much higher than books tell us. The more I think about these things, I feel empty and defeated. The truth follows me like a phantom. I try to hide behind books, movies, bottles of beer, sex and my mundane life. But the truth soon closes in on me and catches up with me, especially when I am all alone. It feels weird to write this, but could you send me a book on how to pray or a format of prayer? I’d like to give it a try. If possible, let us meet up in the next vacation. I have so many more questions.

Your Friend,
Eric

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