Dear Richard Dawkins
Thank you so much for all the great thoughts you have brought. I've now been an Atheist for 6 months, I've never been happier and I feel so much more free. I use to be Mormon, my screen name on richarddawkins.net is actually ExMormon. I was a strong believer in God and Mormonism, I believed it to be true without a doubt, and something that most Christians and Mormons would have a hard time believing is that it was actually my strong faith in God, that faith without a doubt that brought me to Atheism. As a Mormon I strongly believed in the scriptures, I thought they were true word by word, well that the Book of Mormon was true word by word and the Holy Bible to be true as far as translated, due to it being translated countless amounts of times, and that it is believed [by Mormons] that the true translation has actually been lost. I always knew as a Mormon that God had to be the same yesterday, today and forever, for if he did something different he would cease to be God, which brings me to how I became an Atheist. So there is a scripture found multiple times in the Holy Bible and in the Book of Mormon, and the thing is, if it is mentioned so many times, it has to be really important, of course if only mentioned once wouldn't make it less true, the scriptures have to be true word by word, especially in the Book of Mormon if it really was translated to perfection by Joseph Smith as the Mormons believe. I will quote one verse from the Book of Mormon, which in different words but with the exact same message is repeated throughout the Book of Mormon and the Holy Bible many times, the quote I'm quoting is in Mormon 9:21; which says, "Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth." This verse has a lot of powerful points, I will quote it again, but this time with emphasis"Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth." I had that faith, that very particular faith without any doubts, according to this verse, my prayers, which had nothing but good intentions, should have been answered and should have happened.
Mormons believe in Modern Day Revelation, which includes that every individual also has the ability to receive personal revelations through the power of the Holy Ghost, Mormons believe that everybody can feel the Holy Ghost, everybody can receive personal revelation from time to time, but as a member of the Mormon church you receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which means that that individual person once a member of the church would have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion, so long that person is trying his or her best to live righteously. Now in the Book of Mormon in Moroni, this character Moroni gives a challenge to read the Book of Mormon and then to ask God in Prayer if the book is true or not, but after those verses in Moroni 10:5, Moroni explains "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." It literally explains that we can know all truths through the power of the Holy Ghost, which the Holy Ghost, as believed by Mormons is a mouth piece from God, and the scriptures do a very good job explaining that God cannot lie, because if he does, like I said before, God would cease to be God, therefore he cannot lie.
Now, I've had my fair share of personal "revelations", heck, I even had a dream that seemed so powerful that I thought it was a revelation from God because how symbolic it seemed and how angelic it was and also how powerfully I "felt" the Holy Ghost afterwards. I really felt that the "Holy Ghost" was my best friend guiding me throughout my life, leading me to the right direction to where I needed to go in life. Now in the Holy Bible it explains what the Holy Ghost is, and how you can tell it's the Holy Ghost (or the fruit of the Spirit) and nothing else, which is in Galatians 5:22-23; which says "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Now, I've prayed many times for answers and what were to me at the time, needs, and received many "revelations" with all the "Fruit of the Spirit" mentioned in Galatians. And I believed without a doubt, whatsoever, I had 100% faith in all these things I asked for and I was 100% sure that God was going to grant unto me these promises that I had personally received through "revelation" by the "Holy Ghost", so according to the scriptures, it was suppose to be true, it would have to be, or God would have to cease to be God, which would be impossible, because God can't lie, therefore it HAS to be true, without a doubt.
Well, it turned out to be, everything that I had hoped for, all the things I believed to be true, being 100% sure, turned out to be nothing but lies. I was on a Mormon mission, something young men in the church usually do after turning 19, were they leave home for 2 years to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Something happened there while I was on that mission, something that scarred me for good, something that I just couldn't understand, because I was so sure of it, I believed it to be 100% true, without any doubts, not one doubt would cross my mind, because I wouldn't allow it, it brings tears to my eyes right now as I even think about it. I'm not really comfortable explaining what it was I was so sure about, but I will tell you this, it broke my heart in so many ways, it's like my heart shattered into a million pieces of a broken mirror. It happened to so quickly, and I didn't expect it, not one bit, only because of my 100% surety of what I thought was to be true, what was going to end up to be my turning point in life, what would help bring me to salvation, what would bring me forever happiness in life and the life to come. I believed it without a doubt that these things were true, that God had shown me glimpse of the future, but yet, it turned out to be nothing but lies. I couldn't handle it, I tried to stay strong, but I kept falling, it let me to depression and misery, I was in denial, and I couldn't let go for a whole year. that's how long I was hurting, my heart ached, I was emotionally hurt for an entire year, non-stop, I didn't get any breaks other than sleep (which also let to dreams sometimes that caused me pain as I slept), but when I was I awake, it felt like torture 24/7, I couldn't help but think about it.
Well, this event started actually during the beginning of my mission, I was only out for a month or two, but I managed to finish the full 2 years, even though I was hurting so bad half of the time, 1 whole year out of the 2. I came to a time, to "ease" the pain, I came up with a conclusion, "God works in mysterious ways, and we can never understand what he really has in store for us and why he does what he does." It was in a way, a type of denial, I believed in God so much (and there were many reasons for it too), that I ended up making an excuse. Well the time came that I returned home from my mission, I finally I got see my family again after 2 whole years, which felt great after that long time, which I thought [the mission] it was worth it (now it's just a great experience to me where I had fun, well on the second half at least, but now I also feel that I could have done better things during that time). I continued in the church strong, I was still a faithful member towards the church, I thought I had the truth right in front of me, and I believed that God actually had something else planned for me, I didn't know what, and I still couldn't understand why all those things "had" to happen while I was on my mission. Well, as time went on, (you might as well call me insane during this time, according to the definition of insanity, but religion will do that to you) the same thing happened over and over again, and I fell for it over and over again. Sure, these occasions weren't as extreme and they were kind of spread out throughout time, they didn't happen one after another, but I was still foolish enough to fall for it every time. It was after a year and a half after my mission (6 months ago, early January of 2012) I was getting more concerned about myself and all things I was chasing after for that I thought were promptings from the Holy Ghost. Well shortly before that, I was watching a lot of "Penn and Teller: Bullshit" at the time, both being Atheist made me think about Atheism, now I was thinking "I couldn't never be an Atheist", I loved Penn and Teller, especially Penn (he's like a hero to me today), the things he just said I was just in favor of, except being an Atheist, I excepted Penn being an Atheist, but I thought that I could never be an Atheist. Well, while I was concerned about myself and what I was chasing after, I was in Barnes and Nobles, and I know about Penn's book "God, No!", which I thought would be interesting just to look at, not to convert into Atheism, but just too look at, he's a funny guy, heck, Glenn Beck even likes the book according to his review on the back of the book, he's Mormon, didn't convert him. Well I opened the book, and one of the first things I read in the book was "If god (however you may perceive him/her/it) told you to kill your child---would you do it? If your answer is no, in my booklet you're an atheist. There is doubt in your mind. Love and morality are more important to you than your faith.......... If your answer is yes, please reconsider." And no, I don't have a child, at least not yet, but it made me think for a minute, "If I did have a child, would I?" and I came to the conclusion that I probably couldn't, I probably could kill any person really (unless maybe they were really evil, but then probably couldn't either) even if God asked me too, I was never a fan of somebody losing their life, just thinking about it makes me uncomfortable, I always feel weird and not right when someone I know or know of has passed away for whatever reason, I just don't think I could do it. So that whole quote by Penn really got me to thinking, and it bloomed my way into Atheism. I thought about many many things, I also came to realize that this "Holy Ghost" was nothing but my own thoughts, when I thought it was telling me something I wanted (that comes in many different shapes and forms) or what I thought God wanted from me, even if I didn't like it (it was that farfetched). But it all started to make sense to me; all these things that I thought to be true came nowhere else but from my own thoughts, my very own mind. That's the day I first became an Atheist, the day I realized that God probably doesn't exist, the day I stopped believing God whatsoever.
Well, it was while I was reading Penn's book, "God, No!", (I decided to purchase that book two weeks after being atheist) when I first heard and learned about you, and your wonderful book, "The God Delusion" which I purchased shortly after reading "God, No!". I was already an Atheist for a little over a month when I first started reading your book, but as I read your book, a lot of things started making more sense to me why there most likely is no God, and I just became a stronger Atheist. I can now make a pretty good debate on rather why God exist or doesn't exist, both sides actually, but a lot more on the latter. I started watching you documentaries, like "Root of All Evil" (Loved that one by the way) and other discussions you had that I saw mostly through youtube. I started to realize more and more how religion is poison to the mind, that it is actually poisonous to our brain and that it can make us do all crazy things just because we believe it, and of course I realized it from first-hand experience, I realized how badly my religion had poisoned my brain. I also realize now that there is an antidote for this poison, an antidote that many people will refuse to take, because they are too hooked by their religion and as I'm writing this right now at this precise moment, I just came to realize that religion is a drug, a drug just a bad a meth and possibly even worse, a drug that is so harmful, that the people using it don't realize what they are doing to themselves. But I do know what the antidote is, and that is to just stop, to stop believing God completely, and you will heal 100% if you completely stop believing him and let go of your entire religion right away, without turning back, not even one step back. Move forward without believe, without any believe, and it cures you completely. I just came to realize how much it had cured me in no time, as soon as I made that turning point to leave my religion completely. This makes me very glad that I'm writing you this letter, because I just realized some new things. I am now a big fan of your work; you are a hero to me. You helped me understand a lot about a lot of different things and also myself. My mother is still a true believing Mormon, and I know she just can't let go of God, at least not now, she is just so sure he exists without a doubt, and she's actually fine with me being an Atheist, but she still preaches to me here and there, but when she does, I really just see more and more why this religion is such a big poison, and how badly it affects our minds. I know my mother means well, she's happy where she is at, and all I want is for her to be happy. Her believe in God makes her happy and it is not my job to take that believe away from her, I'll tell her my story, I've already told her some, but I'm not going to debate with her how there most likely is no God. Anyways, thanks again so much Richard Dawkins, so helped me out is so many ways. If you want to share this letter with anybody, even post it on your website, you have my permission to do so. I feel like this letter should be shared to hopefully help somebody else who might need it.