Dear Professor Dawkins,
After the very sad demise of Christopher Hitchens, I feel compelled to write. I have seen and read some of the rantings from the “Christies” and have been appalled at what they say. Religion has clearly shown itself for what it really is petulant, infantile, shrieking, selfish, arrogant........ All the vile traits of the worst of humanity.
I first saw you on Hard Talk a few years ago and to tell the truth was a little shocked. For here was not a militant young person trying to show their rebellious side but an articulate, intelligent, soft spoken man and an Oxford professor to boot.
My shock was that you were speaking out against religion on international TV and as the late great Douglas Adams stated “YOU JUST DON'T”. I actually saw the programme at home in Hokkaido,Japan. I immediately started on a path of deep retrospection and introspection.
I have to say that your words didn't “convert” me. I have never had an “imaginary friend”, the only voice I hear in my head is me thinking and the only time I hear voices is when listening to my ipod. I was raised and ,to some extent, indoctrinated in the great C of E tradition in the Midlands,Derby actually, England. My mother is C of E and my father was a Catholic, he died when I was a boy. I quickly realised,at an early age, that “God did/made it” was a euphemism for “I don't know”. This set alarm bells ringing. Substituting fact for something without proof, and to my mind, improbable set in concrete my position of non-belief.
I had always referred to myself,in the past, as an agnostic, not because of some belief, however remote, of the supernatural, of any form, existing but to show respect for the delusions of some of my fellow “out of Africa primates” and their belief in their fantasy novels or, in the case of the Bible ,the vilest horror story ever concocted.
What your words did for my was to set me free, a triumphant emancipation. From that day to now and forever more I am, as I was born, an atheist.
After this revelation or re-birth,if you will, I went back to my daily life. As an atheist I didn't dwell on any thoughts of the supernatural but constantly berated myself for being so dumb and indoctrinated into the tacit belief religion couldn't be questioned, let alone attacked. Then at the beginning of this year I began to wonder what had become of you, religion's greatest attribute is ,surely, retribution, after all. So, I got on the internet and started to search. Not only did I find you, still crusading, along with Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry, whom I already knew about from the BBC, but a whole legion of intellectuals entering the fray. From Dan Dennett, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss to AC Grayling, to name a few, I'm not alone in my atheist foxhole !!
Thank you, Professor Dawkins,you and others in the movement against organised religion have re-ignited my curiosity for the origins of,not only,life but the origin of our universe.
Paul Heap (age 45)