Dear Professor Dawkins,
I realise that Converts' Corner–and yourself–get a massive amount of email at this address, but I simply wish to thank you for being the catalyst in my escape from religion.
I'm a fourteen-year-old boy living in the infamously religious Northern Ireland. I suppose my story starts on whatever day it was that I began to realise that I had a profound romantic interest, one might call it, for a member of the same sex. Being a religious fundamentalist (and a baptised member of the creationist Reformed Presbyterian Church) at the time, I dismissed it at the time as God testing me. A few weeks later, I caught a few minutes of your documentary “The Root of All Evil?” I didn't think anything of it until the following winter (2007), when I watched both parts on Channel 4's on demand service.
I had and awakening of sorts, and became very curious about religion. Naturally, I followed it up with “The Enemies of Reason”. Just before Christmas, I read “Climbing Mount Improbable” and finally understood the incredible power of evolution for the first time. Prior to this, I'd only heard some vague rhetoric about monkeys and green goo.
Early this year (2008), I bought the paperback copy of “The God Delusion”, and just before reading it, considered myself agnostic. The God Delusion opened my eyes to the wonder of the world and the futility of religion. To date, I've read it five times, and have read Sam Harris' and Christopher Hitchens' works on atheism. Now, I'm shaking off the flecks of religion. I still attend church from time to time, to quote your book, “out of loyalty to the flock”. Unfortunately, I'm still in the closet towards them, and remain a Christian everywhere outside of school and the Internet.
Life is still hard for me at school–I'm the only atheist among my small group of friends, and they disapprove of me hugely for it–but I want to thank you so much. You and your work have freed me from the backwards ideology, modernised my social outlook, and made my life more fulfilling. Perhaps I don't have as much comfort in my life, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you, and best of luck in your life and for the RDF. I'm behind you all the way!