Dear Richard Dawkins,
Religion was never apart of my life in a major way growing up. I was lucky that although my mother was raised in a strong Catholic family, she never forced it on us in any meaningful way even though she still has her own personal faith and it must have caused grief with her family. We didn’t go to church and my only memory was her taking me to start Sunday school , but for some reason I got upset while there, so she took me home and I never went back. The other instance I remember is that when I was eight , I told my friend that I had never had my first communion and she told me I was going to hell. This scared and shamed me for several years and I kept it a secret from my friends. It continued that way until one day in my late teens when my brother asked me if I believed in God. At that point my only answer was that I did not really think so but I would like to, so by that point I was a agnostic. It was the beginning of a turning point in my life I will never forget. My brother asked me this question because he had recently watched some of your videos on Youtube, as well as Hitchens, and had read The God Delusion. I then watched some of your documentaries on religion and it got me thinking about the role of religion in world and my life.
But I must say that I kinda let it go for a year or so. I know that some people say it was The God Delusion which have swayed them from religion but it was actually your books on evolution that did this for me. I was not heavily into science growing up, I was more of an art student and started my BSC because I thought it could be more useful than a BA. I read The Ancestors Tale after my brother gave it to me as a gift. I read this before the God Delusion because I was at the time a first year biology undergraduate and this appealed to me more. It was reading this book , and your other books on evolution, that really brought me to atheism and also began my interest in reading science books and writings outside of the classroom. It really opened my eyes that books on science can be easy to read and has lead me to read a wide variety of books on biology, earth science and cosmology. I say this because although my studies at school did impact me , the courses on evolution were not satisfactory in my first two years of study and they did not fully install in me the wonder and fascination that science could hold for me. That started with reading your books and has taken on a life of its own since then.
What prompted me to write this letter now, is that I recently lost my grandfather and it was a different grieving process for me. When my grandmother died in my teens, I still believed in God, mostly, and took comfort in the fact that I would see her again and that she might be watching over me. But now although knowing that I will not see him again has been difficult, I am happy to say that I am fine with it as I feared I would want that false belief back.
So I would like to thank you for not only for the God delusion and speaking on Atheism in your lectures and documentaries, which lead my brother to ask me that first question . More importantly for me personally, I thank you for writing those books on evolution so I could open my eyes to the world of science and the need for evidence and reason . For it was this that truly lead me to be an atheist. I hope someday that I could meet you in person to thank you, but if that never happens this letter will have to suffice.
PS, I know that rather long winded and I apologize for that, but there was just so much to say but at the same time still much left unsaid.