Dear Professor Dawkins,
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I cannot express the gratitude that I feel for the perspective and clarity with which you wrote your book The God Delusion. I myself was a self proclaimed agnostic before I read it, and I must admit that I came to my own conclusions about religious belief long before that. My parents raised me Catholic, and when I was young my family attended mass every Sunday and holidays. I can specifically remember doodling during the homily out of sheer boredom before I was old enough to attend the separate children’s masses. This may have lent to the subject of early childhood indoctrination that was covered. Your book made me think about my own upbringing, and reminded me of when I openly told my parents that I had no intention of getting confirmed, they asked "what did we do wrong?". Needless to say that with hindsight I could not remember a time of indoctrination where I "found god" or otherwise had a moving religious experience, despite reading through the children’s version of the catholic bible as a 5 year old. Despite it being the children0s condensed version, there were quite a few things that I couldn’t fathom or misunderstood. I remember being entertained and occupied but only to the extent that it is an extremely action packed work. As to not getting confirmed, I originally just didn’t want to go to the Confirmation Class. I thought it, like mass, was a complete waste of time. Why else would I want to go? Therefore, I tried to search for things that I could or couldn’t believe. One of the first things that I just couldn’t understand was the concept of a god in general. I was influenced heavily by the Elfish notion in Christopher Paolini’s fantasy novel Eldest; the notion that if god was all powerful, then why did he remain aloof? Why did he (or she) keep to the heavens? If God truly was real and actually wanted the worship of all things, then why didn’t god prove his existence by saying to the world "I am REAL!" through his personal PA system? I just couldn’t come up with an answer except that maybe God wasn’t real or that God wasn’t fit to be worshiped. Furthermore, upon thought I also became at odds with the worship of the "Virgin" Mary. I could think of no other time that a woman actually gave birth without actually having some sort of sexual encounter with a man except those instances that were completely ridiculous! Later after much thought and consideration I was decided. I would not be confirmed. Even though my parents sho uld have been expecting it, the reaction was comparable to the death of a family member. A year later, I read Douglas Adam’s book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and saw your "An Atheist’s Call to Arms" speech for TED while working on assignments in a British literature class. When I first saw your speech, it didn’t occur to me that the Douglas Adams you had referred to was the same one that wrote the novel my classmates and I made a short film about. Seeing The God Delusion in a bookstore, I became intrigued and bought it because I knew who you were. I will also state that another reason for buying your book were because I had recently seen the documentary Jesus Camp. As an American I had no idea of the erasing of the boundary between church and state, it was very shocking. I would highly recommend that you see it if you haven’t yet.
CSU Fresno criminology student