Converts, Tue, Jan 29 2013 #(103)

Jan 29, 2013

Dear Richard,

Thank you for *The Blind Watchmaker* and *The God Delusion*, two books that were instrumental in my deconversion.

I was raised in a religiously apathetic—and generally unbelieving, as it turned out—household but went on to attend a Seventh-day Adventist high school. My science teacher assigned the class to write a paper summarizing both evolution and creation. The creation section in my paper consisted largely of paraphrasing the Bible, and the facts I dug up supporting evolution seemed very certain indeed. Nevertheless, the teacher was a convinced Intelligent Design proponent, flaunting Michael Behe’s *Darwin’s Black Box* and demonstrating irreducible complexity with a mousetrap. He did not persuade me wholly, but for years afterward I thought there was something amiss, something uncertain, about evolution.

During the latter part of my high school years I was convinced by bad facts, delusional paranoia, and the desire to please well-meaning, nice religious people. I became some kind of Christian in a “denomination” of one. My beliefs were not exactly those that the Seventh-day Adventists preached, but they were close. My main belief was that the Bible was a divine book and contained truth if one only searched.

In college, I began reading the Bible, slowly, beginning with Genesis, and quickly determined that most of it was irrelevant to today’s Christians. I also attended a student-led Bible study and occasionally made the effort to go to the local Seventh-day Adventist Church. I was praying on a nightly basis. Anyhow, I got through the book of Acts before other ideas began to reach me. I credit a couple of books I read during the summer before I went to graduate school with setting my mind on a different track: *Space*, by James Michener, and *Chariots of the Gods*, by Erich von Däniken. These books might not seem like especially potent forces for refuting religion, so perhaps my mind was simply drifting away from faith at that time.

I had also read Douglas Adams’ *Hitchhiker* “trilogy” while in undergraduate school, and after checking out *The Salmon of Doubt* from the local library, I ran across his review of *The Blind Watchmaker*. The review was so powerful that I gave it a try and loved it. My doubts about evolution were resoundingly obliterated, and I was thrilled. Even though I had never been a creationist, my religious beliefs were now in fast recession. (Funny how that goes, as upon re-reading it I find religion to be, at the most, in the subtext.) Somehow, I found out about *The God Delusion* and discovered that the public library had a copy. (Sorry! I will someday buy a copy to give you your fair share of the royalties!) I will always remember that glorious spring day when I walked to the library and, feeling deliciously sinful, selected its brilliant silver spine from the shelf. It was at that moment that I knew I no longer believed; I really didn’t even need to read the book. Even so, *The God Delusion* was simply masterful, a cogent, honest breath of fresh air. I felt that everything I read I had secretly known all along. It all made sense. What a wonderfully liberating experience!

I now describe myself as “non-religious,” but if pressed I will answer to the label “atheist.”

Thanks again,

Curtis G, USA
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