Dear Richard Dawkins,
I was raised as a strict Catholic. This was mostly due to the fact that I lived in close proximity to my very religious grandmother. As a child, I loved being Catholic. I got talk about love and Jesus. I did find that my mother was not very strict in the traditional biblical sense. It was all about love, I was never beaten, I was never hurt and told it was ‘gods will’. Being a very logical child, I naturally asked at Sunday school if the bible stories of Noah’s ark and the creation story were true. At first, I got strange looks, but eventually they admitted they were mere stories and not historical fact. This shook me a little bit. However, as child who grew up being taught compassion, I still clung to the disbelief that being Christian was about love and acceptance. You see, I had ADHD as a child. This meant that I made friends easily, but also constantly lost them. I could not help myself. So, I knew that it was hard being different, and tried to accept everyone for who they were (unless of course they were psychopaths). At one point, I was praying nightly and trying to read the whole bible at a tender age of 7. Imagine if I had even gotten past Geneses! I might have shaken my religious thoughts right then and there.
When I was 9, my family moved away from my grandmother, and I started public school. Gone were the mandated weekly church goings, Gone were praying in school. You see, I mostly grew up in a very secular household that did not read or even really have a bible. You could almost call it deism but my grandmother and mother did believe in Jesus Christ. It was pretty much mandatory I believe, but there was not evangelism or forced behavior.
When I started public school, there was nothing to keep my beliefs going. I started to think less about god and more about the ‘real world’. I did not openly reject god, or even question. I just wen with the flow for a long time. I was then sent to a Catholic high school where I had religion classes. At that point, I started looking at other religions than Christianity. You would think that returning to Catholic school would compel me back into praying to god daily. I found the opposite to be true. At my Catholic high school, it was never believe in god or else. We studied other religions in religious classes, even debated a little bit about his existence. I guess you would call it a very liberal Catholic high school. Personally, I did not even think about god much then. I stopped going to church in middle school. I stopped praying after 8th grade. I found other religions tiresome and time consuming. Surprisingly, creationism was not taught in our biology classes, In fact, god was hardly mentioned. It was pure science. Of course, no evolution was taught, even though it was in our textbooks. I thought it was a little sad. I had a very primitive understanding of evolution at that point, and wanted to know more. By the time I was a senior in high school, I did not think about god at all. I still said, “Oh I will pray for you” etc.
At that point, I thought maybe god did not exist at all, but never thought about it outright. Even during my freshman year of college, when I had very few friends and was lonely, I never prayed to god at all. What was the point? Prayer never worked for me. I thought it was all nonsense. I still held the notion that EVERYONE was at least part of some form of religion, so never thought too much about being agnostic or atheist.
About this time, I meet my boyfriend of three years who the year before was constantly attending church and was a very faith based person. However, after we meet, he did not go to church because I did not either. We became a very secular couple, and noticed that a lot of students who professed to be religious were getting very drunk/having sex Saturday night then went to church the next morning. What hypocrites we thought! Was not religion supposed to make you more moral? I thought, I don’t even go to church or pray, but I am not the one having one night stands, breaking the law, and doing things that go against the bible. ???
So, 3 years passed. My boyfriend started out as a “I don’t think about it (god)” and then eventually went to atheism. I hesitated. First, I felt that I would be socially out casted. Second, maybe there is god? I could not let go of my childhood upbringing so easily, even though for so long I had not really been ‘faithful” I had never openly declared that there could be no god. So, for about a year I did not think about it. However, my boyfriend recommended I read “The God Delusion” I finished the book in three days. Now, I am constantly thinking, and declare myself a 5.5 on your ‘scale’. I know why people have a hard time letting go. A) The social aspect (I was raised/friends/family/perceived majority) B) god is comfort. It’s like the ultimate babysitter for adults C) god of the gaps is easy to fall back into D) the unknown about what happens after death.
These are all reasons that I had not thought about this earlier. Now, I am critically thinking about our existence. I am still a little closeted about being an agnostic/atheist. My parents know, and accept me. But I feel their sadness. My boyfriend, of course is very supportive. Some of my religious friends are either supportive or keep using emotional ties to ‘bring me back’, Without your book, it might have worked! Thank you. I could write pages more on why I don’t believe, but it has to do with your book, the immorality and lack of compassion/empathy of the bible, and the fact that religions have existed in so many forms. What makes Christianity/Catholicism so special? Further, my experiences with discrimination and learning that many religions encourage this makes me outraged!