Dear Richard Dawkins
I feel I owe you a huge debt of gratitude!Six years ago I was sent to an all girl's catholic secondary school- it was the best school in the area that wasn't independent or Grammar and as I had failed my 11+ my parents had little choice,and of course I had none.My parents were regular church goers, my father an unquestionable theist along, they fought hard to get me into St Bernard's and after trials and paperwork evidence of our faith I was accepted. For my parents it was a sigh of relief, I was going to a good school, with a good reputation and a strong community ethos.However no matter had idealic it seemed on the open day,it was hell on earth.
At the age of 11 I was an impressionable young child, I sought answers to questions and my mind was still susceptible to the brainwashing beliefs of adults and the power of religion to impose its morals without questioning them. For 3 years I accepted the ideas presented to me, from the resurrection to creationism to the assumption of Mary into Heaven- I was merely following the 'rest of the flock' in this belief, virtually all the girls at my school believed in creationism, that homosexuality would be punished, and that our deeds and actions could be punished by God- and by that I mean 'hell fire'. The beliefs of the students echoed the morals taught- we were a born and bred christian army.
Of course at the age of 13 I was confirmed which was encouraged by my family and church community who were kind and supported me! I believed I had found my family. I was an only child and was an expat from Malawi where I had spent the majority of my childhood, I simply hadn't fitted in socially since moving back to England, so for a church community and kind warm hearted people to welcome me made me fell equal and happy.I felt happy and safe which the idea of a creator showing me unconditional love and support, and if that meant blocking out science or philosophy it was worth it, because I thought God's love was the most important thing in my life and that I would devote my existence to being his loyal servant.
Of course the outer world and reality began to creep in, after seeing people such as yourself on television I began to thirst for ways of counter acting your argument- it simply couldn't be true, it was blasphemy, it was irrational. However as my mind developed I thirsted for knowledge from philosophy to science and began to broaden my mind to different possibilities. I read the God Delusion, The God that wasn't there.I became angry with the intolerance and separation religion breeds,how it prevents social progression. I looked around and saw that religion doesn't give people guidance it simply give them an artificial ides of reality, religion hasn't cured diseases stopped war, prevented violence, Since the day the human race imagined the concept of God there have been killing in his/her name.
I'll never forget the day I realised I was an atheist I was sitting in an RE lesson and watched my RE teacher who was a kind person to be fair, teach the class tell the class how God created the world in seven days. I questioned him, when he replied that it was a theory that they believed was the truth. I shouted at him saying, "yes its a theory, want to know why? Because its has no evidence to turn it into a fact. Like there is no evidence for God or any good that comes from religion." From that moment I felt so liberated, I felt free, free to question what I believe, free to choose what lifestyle to lead, and most importantly freedom to think for myself!!!!!
I want to thank you Richard for speaking out, for making people look at evidence and decide for themselves rather an persist in a deluded reality no matter how comforting. Thank you for not being afraid to question how religion divides our society and prevents both social and scientific progression! Since becoming an atheist I feel I can think for myself, my father is disappointed in me and says that for all my intelligence I lack faith. Actually I don't, I put my faith in the evidence presented, and from that I draw my own conclusions.
I hope to meet you one day so I can thank you in person for the truly wonderful work you do!