’ve been thinking about this for almost an hour, how to start this letter, I can’t. I’m not writing this letter to the atheist Richard Dawkins, not the professor, not the scientist, but to him. It doesn’t really matter what happens with this electronic letter boggled up by noughts and ones. I just have to express my feelings towards you and how you have formed my life through the recent years, I feel obliged to thank you. The beautiful music from a South Korean pianist is in my ears at this very moment, the stars are looking at me; my neurons are in nuclear war.
This letter will be my response to the “Conver’s Corner”, but it will be another kind of conversion. I was not raise religious in any way, I didn’t hear about the Bible before I entered 5th class at age 11. It never occurred to me that this was thought to be real by anybody, at 15 I had a Christian confirmation, solely on the sake of the money and gifts. I will have to say that the church has been bothering me my whole life with bells ringing 4 times each Sunday morning, and I like to sleep on Sunday. Later the same year, I stumbled upon your documentary series “The Root of All Evil?” on national television. I had never seen anybody criticizing religion and superstition with that kind of vocabulary and charisma before, it was time to look you up on the internet. I can’t remember much detail from the last 4 years, but that Google search on you changed my life.
Watched the rest of your documentaries, read some articles, bought The God Delusion, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Selfish Gene, bought “A Devil’s Chaplain” signed from eBay, Unweaving the Rainbow and the rest… I didn’t like to read books before I started with The God Delusion, I think I read it in two days. Following a series of God/religion debates, all these interesting and fascinating question were asked, some answered, some left unanswered.
I could not call myself an atheist before I knew what the debate was all about, to call myself an atheist I felt like I had to know both sides equally well. No debater could answer all questions, the debater was often a biologist, he/you could very beautifully explain the evolution and diversity of all life. But being asked about (astro)physics or abiogenesis, the biologist couldn’t answer very well. And when asked, the physicist couldn’t explain life. I had to know everything, biology, chemistry and physics.
A quest that extended my personal library with 40 books, I have so far completed 34 of those. This range of knowledge is for me, the most important thing in life. Nothing is more beautiful than to explain your own existence, from where your atom came from, to how we are a product of 3,5 billion years of evolution by means of natural selection. A glimpse of you on a television set has brought more knowledge to my tiny brain than any other living organism. From Carl Sagan to Christopher Hitchens, from Charles Darwin himself to Laplace and Newton. Because of this, I have been persuaded to choose scientific studies, most likely in molecular genetics. I’m just very thankful for what you have done for my life, something that seemed too distant just a few years ago.
Life can be difficult without meaning or purpose, to see yourself as a piece of dust on one grain of sand in Sahara, in this vast universe. It was indeed difficult for a few months, but you gave me meaning, you gave me not the position of dust; but of the wind blowing it across a greater number of grains of sand. Being the product of evolution brings me joy, having a common ancestor with a chimpanzee or other animals creates a bond between me and nature. I no longer feel depressed being formed out of the most abundant materials in the universe. I have never felt happier about my life, thinking about those trillions of trillions of people who could have been born instead of me, how do I dare to waste it? Overall, religion makes everything too simple, yet too difficult. How people can find more meaning in some invisible deity than the entire formation of our universe, from the Big Bang to the formation of the earth and the Sun. That, for me, is staggering. I could continue this letter through the night, a letter of conversion, a conversion from an atheist to human being with knowledge, hope, happiness and something else, but not from above.
Thank you, Richard Dawkins.
Thomas, 18 year old, Norway.