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Created on Jun 20 2012
Dear Prof. Dawkins,
I have a lump in my throat. I was brought here by a book I am reading right now, and the stories in Converts' Corner have moved me to tears. It is truly an honour to be able to relate to those people who have shunned the 'clouds, crowds and smokescreens' of religion - those who can now aprreciate the universe for what it really is.
It was not your books that converted me. It was my cousin, long before I even knew of you. My parents weren't religious, but my school was. In fact, even the teachers and assemblies taught little more than hymns to us, but it was the outside speakers who regularly gave assemblies that had me believing in God. We were often visited by preachers who targeted us youth and bombarded us with religious anecdotes. Being the only reason for me to believe, my faith was not strong. No-one I had regular contact with was significantly religious; nor was I. All my conversion took was one afternoon in the back garden, aged 7. My cousin was round, and he asked me if I had noticed the many contradictions in the Bible. I had not - I had, in fact, only looked in a bible three or four times. He told me some of them, and within a matter of minutes, I was an atheist. I remember from then on, I only mouthed hymns in school and never sang, I felt like I was Christian if I did, and I did not want to be Christian.
I don't remember what it was that triggered such a keen interest in religion, but around the age of 12, after those 5 years of being somewhere between agnosticism and atheism, I began looking into religious debates. One of the earlier programs I saw was the televised God Delusion, which flared a passion in me for reason and logic. The reason and logic argued by yourself so elequently was inescapable, and by now I was truly an atheist.
Religious debate is one of my favourite topics of dicussion now, I find it intriguing and, moreover, vitally important. In parallel, I am also keen on chemistry, and last month, I bought a whole collection of books after quite a sudden realisation of my interest in science. Aswell as 2 books by John Emsley, I bought the Selfish Gene, The God Delusion, and Why God Won't Go Away, by Alister McGrath. I have now read the God Delusion, and it is inspiring to read. I conciously challenged every page, but in the few instances where I could think of counter-arguments, you would debunk them on the next page with something like "It could be argued this, but..."
I am now reading Why God Won't Go Away. It is from a Christian perspective, and I bought it to again challenge my own views. It discusses The God Delusion, but time after time I find that the arguments simply do not hold up. And then a passing quip about your site brought me here, to find that once again, it simply wasn't true. A claim that your site was simply publicity for yourself has led me to read one of the most moving things I have seen - Converts' Corner.
I seriously challenged my atheistic views, and I'm all the better for it. My opinions are all the stronger and I am more satisfied with them.
Thankyou, Richard.
Yours sincerely,
Mathew Arnold