Hello Professor Dawkins,
I am a student at Laurentian University in Ontario Canada. I am 21 years old and am currently studying Biochemistry. I feel that I should very much thank you for opening my eyes to the necessity of accepting, and more publicly admitting that I am indeed an atheist. If I may I would like to explain the steps I took to become an atheist and also the role that you played in my awakening.
I grew up in a relatively more accepting environment than some of those environments described by others on your website. I was born into a Catholic home where our Catholicism was more of a title rather than a practice or belief. I do remember growing up with a sense of imposed morality based on religion or judgement but it never weighed much on my thoughts (unless of course I misbehaved). My parents were also quite young and were still undergoing their own growth in terms of religion or belief and this prevented any indoctrination of myself to any single (and ridiculous) paranormal belief. I think that you might say that I grew up with a better realization of the existence of alternative beliefs than a child with deeply religious parents.
Your talks often involve mentioning why the Christian God or Allah is considered the god of controversy rather than any of those that have ever existed (or currently exist). This resonates with me since I once stumbled upon the same line of thought. It came from my studies of ancient myths. I am quite fascinated by the Greek Gods. I find that their stories and tales are quite interesting, a kind of superhero soap opera. I also knew that they were once worshipped at a level that I had personally never experienced. I thought to myself, “How silly were they?”, to believe so fundamentally in these stories that they sacrificed animals, purposely tricked gods with their offerings or killed their own loved ones (at least in stories). Soon after I also thought to myself “What made them wrong?” and more importantly “What makes Catholicism right?” I had no good answer.
At the same time my interests in science were continuing to grow. I learned a great many things about why the world worked and had heard of evolution and natural selection ever since I could remember. At this time though I did not understand them. The more I learned about science however the more I thought that science could explain everything, I began to realize that the stories in the Bible were just stories. More and more my Catholicism was becoming just like the ancient stories of the Greeks and Egyptians. Myths. Eventually my mind turned to agnosticism, it seemed the most logical belief system which included God but also explain the large amounts of misunderstanding in any religion. I eventually decided for myself that God seeded life on Earth, essentially sparked life, as Anne Rice speculated through one of her characters in one of her books. This I accepted and left it alone.
I admit with some embarrassment that it was not until I learned about The Selfish Gene that I had ever heard of your writing. This occurred in my first year of Biochemistry. I read your book and became enticed by your writing style and soon read The God Delusion. It was among those pages that I learned that there is no need for a sparking of life, no need for God and it allowed me to shed off that last remnant of my Catholic past. I now have a mind that is solely my own. No fear of being judged due to doubt or failing to follow tradition. I am very much my own person, much more special than anything that could have been created or pre-ordained. The world is a much more beautiful place through my eyes now. I feel that I must thank you again for this true vision.
I hope this email reaches you,