Dear Mr Dawkins:
Thank you for writing down exactly how I have thought and felt all my life, under the surface and behind the scenes. Thank you for explaining far more coherently and logically than my limited scientific background ever could why I don’t believe in God, why God himself is so very implausible. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone in my thoughts about religion and faith.
I was never a true Christian. I was never raised and indoctrinated in church dogma, for which I am eternally grateful. But I also never felt that I was right to think there was no God. Even my (comparatively) irreligious parents are both agnostic, leaning towards Christian, and religion was always present in my life in some fashion. I simply didn’t think about it; maybe there was somebody moving the pieces on the chessboard, or maybe there was no chessboard, just people living their lives. It was too frightening to think about. That I might actually be alone? Completely alone? Agnosticism is tempting, I must admit. I still find myself on the fence every so often, looking up at the sky with my mouth open to ask God why — and I catch myself. It hasn’t truly sunken in yet that there is no one watching me.
But that’s my own form of indoctrination speaking, as opposed to the person I have grown to be. I’d like to think I’m more free-thinking than that. I’d like to think I can throw off the shackles once and for all and decide for myself whether God exists or not, but we are indeed slaves to our upbringing in many ways, and I was raised — not a Christian child per se, but a child steeped lightly in that unwavering, irrational belief in God. But we are not slaves forever, as so many people have written to you and shown. The God Delusion was a step in the right direction for me, toward atheism, toward actually thinking for myself and not feeling ashamed or ridiculous that I don’t believe in some omniscient father figure in the sky, just because the majority of people do believe in it.
So thank you. Thank you for putting a voice to the thoughts I never allowed to surface — because I was afraid, ashamed, confused, scared of what they might mean for me. Thank you, because even though I’ve technically lost something, I feel suprisingly whole. Thank you, because I have been looking for answers for seventeen years, and you’ve managed to hand me a whole lot of them on a silver platter. Thank you very much, Mr Dawkins.
Samantha, of Oregon