Dear Dr. Dawkins,
I am too ashamed to tell you of the delusions under which I have been laboring, except to acknowledge happily that you and many others like you are right, and I was wrong. I read Unweaving the Rainbow and The Selfish Gene in secret, several times. I have no memory of how I arrived at my astonishing conclusions, except that my training in Christian ambiguity and nonsense began at a very young age, invoked none of my faculties of reason, and instilled me with a genuine fear of hell that still haunts me daily. I do recall that God likes us to be honest and thankful, so I want to extend my honest thanks to you for your books.
The prized ignorance of Christian faith is a virulent and raucous tradition, which dreads to admit that a truer measure of discipline is the ability to deprive oneself of unwarranted conclusions, to weigh and examine, to welcome correction, and to consider evidence. It is a horrible irony that believers (like myself) who decry the dangers of pride will not listen to rigorous arguments. If God was real, I am sure we would not have to cover our eyes to find him; and if he made our minds, I cannot imagine why his first commandment would be “Don’t use them.” Now it is my firm persuasion that perspicacity and rational acuity are preferable to any measure of intellectually stultified happiness. It is those qualities, not faith, that produce the gentleness, patience, humility, and kind wisdom of a full-grown mind.
I am a new atheist, and though I am not brave enough yet to be a very loud one, I am waking up a little more all the time. At last I am peaceful, and enlivened – able to lift my face to the stars in playful, curious, awestruck wonder at this exquisitely godless place where I am to practice medicine in a few years. It is embarrassing to be in my senior year of an Honors pre-medicine program, 21 years old, and only now discovering this. What a marvelous universe I have been unthinkingly spinning around in for the last two decades! I can hardly stand to think of the time I have wasted not trying to understand it, but I am trying to make that right. Right now I am working three jobs to pay for college, but I have taken extra hours so as to afford more books, which I cannot stop reading; and I have seized upon my undergraduate research with newly invigorated statistical zeal.
So Dr. Dawkins, thanks for telling me. I wish I could explain how heartily grateful I am for your catalyzing insights, which precipitated the quickening of my mind and a new awareness about the universe. Thank you for caring about the truth, and about the rest of us improbabilities that have woken up here with you.