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Created on May 21 2012
Professor Dawkins,
First, I want to say thank you for all that you are doing to help progress the secular movement. My conversion story started when I went to college two years ago. I am currently a sophomore at the United States Military Academy, who is originally from Maryland. I grew up in a Catholic family. I went to church most Sundays and went to religious education classes once a week. I was a believer but by no means a fundamentalist. When I got to West Point I met a bunch of very conservative, religious people who did hold fundamentalist views. I couldn’t believe that my classmates at one of America’s top colleges didn’t believe in evolution. Anyways, these extreme views led me to seriously question my own views. I went awhile where I was in a kind of agnostic state. I didn’t go to church and I was just really confused about what I believed. Then, just before Christmas 2011, I watched Bill Maher’s movie Religulous and decided that religion was, well, pretty ridiculous. I was still confused because Maher’s film is great but it doesn’t offer any knockout arguments against believing in god. That’s why I decided to read your book, along with Christopher Hitchens’, and Sam Harris’ (I am currently reading Daniel Dennet’s). All of your books totally convinced me of the atheist point of view and made me embarrassed to look back at my old beliefs. Just a few weeks ago I “came out” to my family which was a very nerve-wracking experience. It turns out my dad may be an atheist as well. He has been questioning his beliefs in the past couple of years but keeps going to church because of my mom. I quickly gave him my copy of your book, along with the others I mentioned. My mom was a little bit of a different story. She cried at first but after talking to me a little bit about it she accepted my decision. She won’t listen to any of my reasoning for atheism though. She even admits that there is no proof for god but that she just simply has faith that he and Jesus exist. This was extremely frustrating to me, which I am sure it is to you whenever you encounter someone who uses this explanation for their religion. Anyways, I was just happy that my relationship with my parents wasn’t affected at all by my coming out. My mom did ask me to not tell my little brother and sister, which I didn’t like but agreed to because I didn’t want to upset my mom anymore. I think the next time I go home I will probably end up breaking that agreement because I don’t want to hide what I am, and the question will probably come up when I refuse to go to church.
I would just like to sincerely thank you for helping me in my journey to atheism. I have found that I am much happier since giving up my religion. I am much more optimistic and appreciative of the world around me. You have helped solidify my views and given me a solid foundation based on logic and reason to defend my atheism. Thank you again.
Sincerely, Brian