Dear Professor Dawkins
I’m writing to thank you, for opening my mind to the possibility of being a rationalist, of being skeptical, and of being an atheist.
Although I was not brought up by religious parents, the school I went to was Church of England, and naturally, as a young, easily influenced child, I took what my teachers told me to be true and unquestionable. It still saddens me at how easily I was convinced of the existence of a god, one of the things which confirmed my faith to me was a time when, without having to resort to bribes, I got the best skipping rope in the school, after asking god. For me, this was a miracle, and confirmed beyond all doubt that my teachers were right. Now, it just proves to me that children should not be taught what to think at such an age, but rather how to.
In my first year of highschool, your name, and The God Delusion were mentioned in one of my Religious Education classes, as an atheists viewpoint. Our teacher gave us several quotes from your book to discuss, about whether it is right to indoctrinate a child. I could not, despite how hard I tried, argue against your ethical reasoning, and soon became an agnostic. But by then my curiosity had been provoked, and I decided to read the book which had so challenged my faith. I’m now 15, an atheist, and in the middle of reading my well-leafed copy of The God Delusion a third time. I found it through, questioning, and beautifully argued, with no allowances made, just unavoidable evidence and reason. I’ve taken religious education full course as one of my GCSE options, one of only a few atheists to do so. I find the constant challenge invigorating, but also slightly saddening.
Several of my friends are religious, some Christian, others Muslim. I try and draw them into discussion about their faith, out of honest curiosity, and I find my friends become angry, and offended, upset that I dared question their beliefs. These are extremely intelligent teenagers, with such promising futures, who will happily discuss any other topics with me in the most polite and non-confrontational of ways. Not just them, but our teachers. My biology teacher of several years is a creationist Christian, a stance which, quite frankly, astonishes me. He taught us evolution fairly and to the syllabus, but his own cynicism on the subject was clear, and I fear it may have planted the seeds of doubt in many of my peers.
I think you and your foundation are doing incredible work, opening up peoples eyes to the simple, unavoidable truth, helping us to think for ourselves. So I thank you. Thank you for encouraging me to find things out for myself, to be questioning and skeptical, to not believe what someone says, based purely on their conviction. Thanks to you, I will continue to view the world in a rational, beautiful light. You helped me see that the beauty of science far outweighs that of fairy tales.