Dear Dr Dawkins,
Thank you for all your hard work in the media spotlight defending science and reason! I feel a bit embarrassed to give an account of how I came to be an atheist (it reminds me of all the ‘personal testimonies’ I used to hear at church baptisms from people giving their lives to Jesus), but the risk is worthwhile in order to thank you!
I’ve been an atheist for about 15 years now, and I can definitely trace some of my religious doubts, and certainly my decision to pursue a career in biology, to my reading your excellent book The Blind Watchmaker while I was still at school, especially the part about evolving biomorphs. I must say the treatment of evolutionary theory in my actual science lessons was less than inspiring, coming from an obviously reticent teacher who seemed only to be mentioning it because she had to, and whose limited understanding was displayed when she muttered something along the lines of “We’ve got clothes now, so evolution says we should have lost all our body hair, but never mind” (we *have* lost most of it Mrs Burns, just take a good look at a chimpanzee, but perhaps the reason is not so simple as having invented clothes!).
Armed with the knowledge from your book I was able to see through the misguided efforts of some of the adults at my Christian youth group to convince us youngsters that the earth was created in a matter of days complete with plants, animals and human beings, and that humans were not animals. I remember being shown the infamous video clip of yourself “failing” to explain how information can increase due to random mutations (when in fact you were deciding how to ask the creationist camera crew to leave your home).
As an early career scientist, simulated evolution is now a part of my research, and I’ve had the satisfaction of seeing a model of animal behaviour evolve inside my computer which was more elegant than anything I could have produced myself, and of figuring out how it had solved the problem I gave it.
Thank you for providing the inspiration!