Back in those now ancient days of middle school, I was friends with a girl named Kirsten. We knew each other in Kindergarten, in fact. Her mother was a devout Catholic, though, and I still remember her stacking her little children’s bibles on her bed when I went over once so that she could try to convert me.
We bickered about many things. Politics (I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh), religion, and some other shallow shit that involved long periods of hostility towards each other even though I couldn’t remember what the hell we were mad about two days later.
It must not have been hard to debunk religion in elementary school because one day, I can’t remember when, she just stopped wanting to go to church and her mother wasn’t going to force her. I honestly thought that this had been a personal revelation on her part. I didn’t think that it had anything to do with me. I now had a fellow Atheist with a mother who was still a devout Catholic (a source of some amount of grief for her… I once heard her mother say to her in the car in relation to her lack of faith “I feel failed as a parent”.)
I had the fortune to attend a K-8 school with her, and she was a really great friend but… alas, 8th grade came and was soon gone. We might have gone to the same hell hole (high school) together, which might have made the whole shock of entering the anti-intellectual public school system easier for me with a friend like her, but she moved to Washington state.
Thanks to the Internet, I maintained contact with her, though I still missed her ever so terribly.
After another taxing day at school, I logged in to my IM services to be informed by my ex-Catholic friend that she had started reading The Selfish Gene. We started talking about science and how wonderful it really truly is to be able to understand the universe through science and then she told me that if it weren’t for me, she would still be religious, unable to fully enjoy the awe and wonder of the universe as told by science. She told me that if she didn’t know me she wouldn’t be an Atheist.
I had actually de-converted somebody! I must say that I must be much more optimistic about de-converting religious people than others, but in all our little squabbles over religion, she never showed any sign of swaying to my arguments but… she did.
But in all those fights, she was so stubborn and evasive, like all religious people. Surely something was wrong! Surely it could not have been true! The astonishing news that I had actually changed somebody’s mind made my head spin. It seemed to go against the laws of the universe. What was going on?
I opened my eyes when it became clear that the space-time continuum was not about to collapse.
So, my fellow Atheists, it is possible. It seems so impossible sometimes, I know, but it is possible. Keep fighting the good fight.