To professor Dawkins or whom ever (if anyone) it may concern,
I will try to articulate my de-conversion in an honest and poetic way. As a child I was brought to church on Sundays and told how Jesus/god/the holy sprit loved me, however my family was and still is Christian for the sake of being Christian. They did not practice or believe what the bible said, but I did. I prayed every night and morning, I never put in too much effort because I felt that god had a plan for me (he did not) and that no mater what that plan was god would find a way to make it come to fruition. I was a Christian for god/Christ/ the Holy Spirit (I will just refer to them as god, because I was thought they were one and the same) I will never forget on a good Friday (no meat) my parents asking me, as a child of maybe 8 or 9, “what take a-way would you like?” I broke down in tears because I was afraid if I had a chicken curry I would be sent to hell. My parents reassured me that it would take more than that to send me to hell. However, my belief remained strong for the majority of my life. In my teens (and having read the bible and seeing its contradictions) I dipped my toes into some new age spiritual B.S. Later on I stumbled back to Catholicism, with my head spinning from the constant changes of the new age belief system (one minute Deepak Chopra the next some other tool with too much time to make shit up). The one thing I, even then, noticed was the automatic assumptions that if it was from an Asian or Native American culture its o.k. My motto should have been “no science for me please, I have an archaic culture to rape”)
But my full de-conversion was a painful and almost life ending experience. It began with Derren Browns book “tricks of the mind”. At the time I was an apologist for the catholic religion. I would twist the suffering and pain off myself and those around me into the will of god. I was (and still am) infatuated with Derren, but I never used the critical thinking skills I learned from his TV programs to question my religious belief until I reed his book. When I first reed it I tried my best to ignore the sting that came with questioning my religious belief. But question I did and my belief system fell down around me.
I had always had an interested in the cosmos. I did not feel the need to understand the stars, but I was interested in them. I believed if god wanted me to know he would give me the tools to understand (in other words, if I made shit up, it was the divine word of god). The idea of having no faith scared me so much I began to pick and chose the bits of other religions I liked. This kept me happy for some time, until I started watching YouTube videos of Carl Sagan and, the god of atheists Richard Dawkins (lol ;) joke, just in case someone tries a quote mine). You both explained the natural world in a way that was so simple that anyone could appreciate it, but in such a deep way that no theologian could match. Literally the whole universe opened up in front of me. But it was not a joyous time for me, my religious preaching had pushed away some people and my de-conversion had pushed away others. I was so alone; it was the most painful period of my life. I tried to kill myself several times, I spoke to a therapist and a counselor to help me over come my problems but in the end it was the works of Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Hawkins et al. Now I can appreciate the beauty and the complexity of reality without belittling it, when I first reed “the selfish gene” I was blown away by the simplicity, beauty, complexity and horror of natural selection. Now my life is filled with more beauty than I could ever imagine. When I see a rainbow, when I hold a grain of salt, when I think about my connection to this earth: this solar system: this galaxy: this universe, I do not feel alone. The atoms in my body are about 13 billion years old, but have come together for a brief moment to make me. That is beautiful; I am 13 billion years old and look less than 30. What more could you want
Richard Feynman said it better than I ever could; “natures imagination is so much greater than mans”.
To Richard Dawkins and people like Richard,
You have no idea how much you can impact the life of someone like me, you have opened the whole universe to me and I would like to take this time to thank you.
Peace and much love from