Dear Professor Dawkins,
I'm a 19 year old male who grew up in a very conservative christian home in the United States. I was raised by my mother, who is a Seventh-Day Adventist christian. To say Seventh-Day Adventism is crazy, is most definitely an understatement, and my mother certainly made every effort to have me adhere to the statutes of this denomination.
When I was 16 years old, my Junior year of High School, I was attending a Seventh-Day Adventist boarding school where drilling religious propaganda into students' minds was the main drive behind the teachers' careers. They thought what they were doing was right, but now all I see when I look back is how badly they have warped and closed off the minds of many of my friends and family. That year I began to question everything I believed in. I had recently come to accept my homosexuality, because I knew that it was either kill myself and go to hell, or live how I wanted and be happy, and still go to hell. With hell always on my mind I began to question the idea of God even further, eventually I decided to accept scientific evidence, I discarded my label as a christian, and I left that school. One of the best decisions of my life was leaving that place, even though public school was not too different from the boarding school I had just left, when it came to religious fervor among the students.
The following year, I came across your book The God Delusion in a bookstore in Atlanta. I read the book from cover to cover and absorbed it. I cannot thank you enough for what you wrote on those pages. Not only did it shatter the last fragments of religious belief left in my mind, it gave me the power of knowledge and understanding behind being an athiest. I have never known freedom as I do now, I no longer feel guilty for what I want, who I am, what I know, and I now have no problem telling anybody that I am an athiest, because I am proud to be an athiest.
I then read The Greatest Show on Earth and I can now understand what Evolution truly is, I never realized I had been incorrectly taught evolution in my sciences classes from 2nd Grade through High School. Now that I have forced myself to be somewhat scientifically literate, I understand that I should never have been scientifically illiterate in the first place.
Well, I just wanted to thank you, while you were not the influence to the beginning of my journey, you certainly were the proponent behind my full embrace of Science. You helped me get through all the lies that had been ingrained into my mind since I was a toddler. I have to say that with Christianity I never felt I was doing it right because I never felt 'the Spirit', but I've never felt more 'spiritual' than when I study evolution and physics, these subjects just makes so much sense and actually have answers to my questions. Thank you again.