Just for something completely different, here’s an email I just got that isn’t threatening me with death or causing me to choke while laughing because of its absurdity.
Over the last several years I have been “converting” from a once very strong evangelical faith to atheism. It was a long road and involved many different facets, one of which was a steady tide of atheist reason and thought I received online. And my main source, well none other then you, Dr. Myers. My first movement towards rationality came when I started researching evolution and what do you know, it was true. While I was still an evangelical, I started tracking the creation and evolution controversy, which often through a link landed me on you blog as you are very prominent in the discussion. I would read a post about evolution and learn something new and then stay awhile and read another post hear or there and cringe and you tore into my religion. I was threatened by you, most prominently because I often had no good answers for your criticisms. I won’t write out my entire deconversion story but I’ll summarize you’re role in that over the last several years I have spent more and more time on your site, reading and thinking. You are now the only blog I follow and I read everything your write. I write this note as encouragement that your persistent defense of rationality and reason does make a difference.
So, how do you come by all these different stories to comment on? Are people sending you links of things they might think you will find interesting? I have long suspected that most of the polls you have us trash are being sent to you by readers who happen to stumble upon them as they travel around the web, that or you have developed you own poll search engine.
That’s good news, and I should mention that I get half a dozen messages like this a week — they’re more common than death threats, but not quite as frequent as the crazies. It’s also fairly typical (not to diminish the writer’s clear commitment to reason) in that I don’t get stories about epiphanies and ‘road to Damascus’ deconversions, and I’m glad of it, because that’s not how one should come to atheism. It’s usually a long, difficult process of thinking for yourself … and I can’t honestly take credit for it, as if I were some sort of evangelical missionary for godlessness, because all I do is provoke and, with luck, jump-start some critical thinking. Like the writer above, sometimes it works because I get someone angry and they go off to prove me wrong, and when they actually look at the evidence, reason unfolds slowly and painfully in their cranium, puncturing old preconceptions with its pointy bits and sharp edges.
To answer his question, yes, I get a flood of email every single day with hundreds of requests (and sometimes demands) to post something about X, Y, and Z. Sometimes I just click randomly into the inbox and throw up something about it; sometimes a story just tickles me. I can’t address it all, of course, but it means all I have to do is tap into the collective outrage and humor of the community of readers here, and presto, I’ve got something to write.