I’d just like to take this opportunity to tell my story. Why? I’ve no idea, part thanks I guess, partly something to do. Maybe just for my own entertainment. Either way, here goes.
I was raised, as Richard would no doubt hate to hear, as a ‘Christian Child’. My parents home schooled me for my entire childhood, encouraged me to question everything, taught me to love learning, and told me that God exists and that I should pray to Jesus every night.
Their teachings stuck, as they usually do, up until I was maybe thirteen or so. At that point I started thinking of the obvious kind of questions. My stance for the next two or three years was “Of course I’m a Christian, but I was wondering just out of curiosity, why does…”
Some of my questions were answered perfectly, some of them less than perfect, and some of them basically boiled down to ‘Who can understand God but God himself?’ Which was, well, less than satisfactory.
When I was 16 or so, my questions focused more on evolution. For my entire life up until then I had thought that Evolution was some crackpot version of science researched by the same sort of people that advocated homeopathy. I wondered how people could possibly think lizards suddenly turned into cows, or how monkeys would suddenly give birth to humans (I had been told by various people in my family and church that that was basically what ‘evolutionists’ believed.) Thankfully, at this stage of my life, I had unrestricted access to the internet, and had grown bored of the usual online games I had been playing. I began to research evolution, again though, it was from the creationist side of things. I never bothered going to evolutionist sites. What was the point? Somehow I thought people that had already been ‘proven’ to be true would be able to provide more accurate information on the subject.
It was somewhere around then that I realized how, well, stupid the majority of arguments for creationism were. Absolutely nothing I read added up. I couldn’t understand why there weren’t intelligent creationists out there explaining away all the questions. I couldn’t figure out why all the smart people would sit silently in the background while the obviously less educated people were right there on the front, producing (almost incoherently) the same illogical arguments over and over.
Somewhere around this point, I decided that I was no longer a creationist. I still automatically shoved God into my newfound ‘beliefs’ of course. But my stance was now, “If God could create all things with age, why wouldn’t he create the entire history of plants and animals already aged millions of years?”
Having happily solved my problem and fit both ‘theories’ together, I moved on to other things, ignoring the faint glimmer of religion in the back of my mind, which, by the time I was 17-18, basically amounted to ‘Of course I’m a Christian.’ And that’s, well, all there was. One day I realized that my ‘Of course I’m a Christian’ stance was based on the fact that I had always been a Christian, that my family had always been a Christian. That I had no real reason to prefer Christianity to Judaism, or to worshiping Zeus, as Richard would so eloquently put it.
At that point, I pretty much stopped being a Christian. There was no crisis of faith, there wasn’t any worry about what people would think of me, there wasn’t even the slightest fear of going to hell. Mostly, I just felt relieved. I found out around the same time that two of my brothers felt basically the same way, and they agreed that Christianity just didn’t make enough sense for them.
The problem, though, is that there was now a gigantic gap. Not a spiritual gap, but one based on knowledge – or lack of it. I previously had everything figured out. God created the universe for us, the purpose of life was to basically decide whether to go to heaven or hell, and heaven was for…Well, okay, I hadn’t figured everything out. But I knew the gist of it. Now that there was no God, there was no heaven. And what did create the universe anyways?
So I turned to science. And that is what I’ve come here to thank Richard for. ‘The God Delusion’ was one of the first books I read since renouncing my Christianity. I can’t give Richard credit for converting me from my faith, but I give him full credit for absolutely fascinating me with his book. Within it contained pretty much every argument I had ever thought up in my life (and then some!) Each one was written out a thousand times more eloquently than I could ever have put it. Every single question I had on religion was suddenly laid out in front of me, and at the same time, I was amazed at how much new information I had. I had to get more.
I started checking out more books, looking him up on youtube, watching his discussions with other people, etc. Somewhere along the way ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ was released and I got even more obsessed. Just recently I watched almost two hours worth of a discussion between Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss. I had only planned on watching five minutes of the first segment, and thought I would be bored sitting there just watching two people talk about science, and yet, as soon as it finished, I found myself starting up another 70 minute long lecture (A Universe from Nothing – Absolutely fascinating) from just Lawrence Krauss this time.
In short (Because honestly, who is going to read every word of the above?) I’d like to thank you, Richard Dawkins, for clearing up basically every question I ever had on religion, introducing me to the fascinating subject of biology, and even though you’re not a physicist, your discussion with one has led me into researching physics as well, which is something I’ve so far found equally fascinating.
I understand that up until recently, you held the title ‘Professor for Public Understanding of Science’ at Oxford. I know I’m just one completely random person in a sea of completely random people telling you this, but I feel you’ve done an excellent job in that position, and I wish you the best of luck in whatever you’ve set your sights on next – I know I’ll be keeping up to date on them, whatever they are.
(ps: I fully understand that Richards far too busy to have much of a chance at reading this, and that wasn’t the intent anyways. Whoever did manage to read the whole thing, I hope I haven’t bored you too much. Thanks for your time!)