Dear Dr. Dawkins –
I've read some books in my life, but none of them had the impact that The God Delusion had on me. As a Christian (firmly religious) I realised that I never had a chance to hear the 'other view of life' that atheists had. I could not comprehend how those weird people could live and smile and be happy. Of course I was absolutely sure that they were wrong, but nevertheless I wanted to know the reasons why they chose a different path. I've heard about The God Delusion and when I saw it in my school's library (I'm sixteen) I became curious. I told myself that a book cannot change how I think – I MEAN NOT ABOUT MY RELIGION – so I've picked it up. After 20 pages or so (I was in the bus) I decided to put it down. It was too critical of my beliefs, which were so important to me and I became angry. But I had another 4 bus-stops left so I continued reading. And thanks God that I did so.
It was roughly in the second part of the book that it once hit me. For a couple of minutes I didn't believe in God. Then again I returned to my faith – it was a much warmer choice. However, by the end of the book I put it down as an atheist (and oh how I laughed at your wish that people would do so in the beginning of the book).
I found it silly that a book can change something that was so important and firm in me. But I always believed in freedom of choice, and I wanted to stay true to myself. I wanted the truth, and if I was thinking rationally, well then this whole idea of God fell into pieces.It was just pure logic… The reason why I believed all my life in a God (well, only 16 years, but still) was that I never had the chance to compare the options with an unbiased, clear mind. Once I did (or tried…) it was obvious which one was the more realistic one.
I have to confess that the first 2-3 weeks were like hell. Everything seemed a bit pointless… but that was not because of atheism, it was because of my past, because I was pretty much brainwashed with the idea that there is always an invisible and loving person beside you. I think it's a bit like with Santa. Once you realise that it's not true, you are sad for a while (I'm no longer sad now, actually happy to have this freedom). But the difference between a world without Santa and a world without God is that the later one gives you this freedom of thought. I realised that I had no restrictions, no ties around my thoughts. And you were so right about the morality bit – I continued with most of the principles which I had about being good etc, but I felt different if I behaved badly. I didn't think – crap, I'll go to hell, but I rather felt that I wasn't acting according MY principles, that I wasn't true to myself.
And here's the bit which you would most like… After those weeks of – well, let's face it – pain, I became aware of the wonders of nature. Everything seemed so INCREDIBLE, AMAZING. I was interested in the cosmos, universe, evolution even, but never took it that seriously as I had God as an explanation. But now it was different. I wanted to know more about the place of where I was and how it worked while I could in this life. I couldn't just ignore all of iit and pass through life not knowing ANYTHING about it- I was too curious. And since then (almost a year gone) this is my one big thing that I want to do while alive: know more about the Universe. I generally like all sciences, but Physics is what fascinates me the most (I liked it before as well, but never thought of becoming a physician).And I'm really lucky, because this is not only the subject that I'm most interested in, but the one I'm best at as well (I don't know if I would have discovered that without you, as I would have probably dropped the subject by this time). I am certain that this is what I want to study in one and a half years' time at university.
So million thanks for opening my eyes and for guiding me to physics and science (even if in a rather indirect way). It's incredibly weird that I became an open minded person (well, more open minded than I was…) with a keen interest in science because of you.
Girl in Europe.