Richard Dawkins, I want to thank you.
I was wrong for the first 25 years of my life.
My religious education had placed blinders over my sense of reason and if I hadn't read your books, I'd probably have gone on as a faithful lemming until my death.
The strength of my former conviction was based mainly on what I thought to be solid evidence in the form of Paley's design argument, and others like it. When you demonstrated the elegant simplicity of the Darwinian explanation for life in The Blind Watchmaker and the fallacy of sky-hook superstitions in The God Delusion, it all came sharply into focus.
At first I was depressed, because I would've liked there to be a good god and a heaven at the end of my life. Then I was a bit angry at our species as a whole for allowing faith to be taught as absolute fact in this age of fantastic scientific enlightenment. But now, I'm overwhelmed with excitement. You were right; atheism is life affirming in a way that religion can never be.
I was seeing a distorted world because of faith-colored glasses, but you helped me to take them off. I'm afraid that it will be some time before humanity gives you the proper credit for your contribution to science, but for my part, I owe you my deepest thanks.
My final thought is this: Critics of evolution claim that universal laws and constants are too finely tuned for supporting the life we see to have come about by a sheer accident. I think they've got it backwards. It is, rather, the life we see that is too finely tuned to the universal constants to have arisen by a sheer accident. If those laws and constants had been any different, sooner or later a self replicating chemical reaction would probably have occurred and evolved via natural selection anyway. It may have looked vastly differently than the life we're all familiar with, but a kind of life would most likely have arisen none the less. Regardless of universal laws, life, when defined to mean matter capable of self replication, is almost certainly inevitable if only given enough time.