Dear Professor Dawkins,
I wanted to write to thank you for opening my mind to reality.
I was raised Irish Catholic, and spent all my life deeply immersed in religion. I served at church, started a school prayer group at my Catholic school, went to youth rallies and retreats, and even spent my ‘gap year’ before university living in a monastery trying to decide whether to become a monk. I went on to read theology at Cambridge, where I first became aware of your book ‘The God Delusion’. Initially, I read it with the intention of ‘knowing my enemy’ so that I could refute your arguments. However, I found that your writing was not the simplistic, naive misunderstanding of theology that all my lecturers told me it was, and I was left with many doubts about my faith after reading it.
I spent about three years struggling with losing may faith, during which time I asked every priest and theologian I knew many questions and received no good answers, just appeals to emotion and ‘faith’. I also read more atheist books, by ‘new’ and old atheist writers, and found in them much more clarity than in the dense and obscure writings of religion. I also began to get interested in science, a topic I used to think was pointless because religion had all the answers. Reading about evolution opened my eyes to a richer and much more beautiful reality than that of my former faith.
It has been a difficult journey for me, and I spent a long time in mourning for my lost faith, wishing I could get it back. Now, however, I have sat down to re-read ‘The God Delusion’ and I have found it to be a wonderfully life-affirming book. I can finally stand proud and decalre that I am an atheist, and I am happier now than ever before.
Thank you for starting me off on this journey, and for your work in raising the profile of atheism. Without your work, I may not have ever learned how positive, and above all, how true, atheism is. You have my life-long gratitude.