Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(1044)

Jan 30, 2013

Dear Dr. Dawkins,

I am a recent convert to atheism. I was raised in a devout Catholic
family. My father was in seminary when he was younger and was in a
diaconate program not too long ago. I have a bachelor's degree in
Theology from a very conservative Catholic college in Franciscan
University of Steubenville, Ohio. At one point in my life, I seriously
considered the priesthood and even taught religious courses at a
private Catholic high school for a short period of time as a
substitute teacher. My former girlfriend is a Catholic convert due to
my influence (oops) and is the most devout Catholic I know right now.
I became a Godfather earlier in '08 and have since told my friends I
could no longer be Godfather to their child. The background is there
and I have come a long way from my former life. It is quite surprising
(not miraculous) to everyone. A common response would be “you're the
last person I expected this from,” which I take as a compliment to my
intellectual honesty. Other less appealing responses would be “I'll
pray for you,” “that's too bad,” and even one from my former
girlfriend “I'm not surprised” to which I replied “what's that
supposed to mean?” and then dropped immediately as an act of grace.
The nerve!

I have been a lifelong truth-lover, even when I was a religious
person. The difference between myself as a religious person and other
religious people was that I was an open religious person, always
seeking a better understanding of truth. Back then, I considered Jesus
“the Truth” so I figured whatever things I was learning, no matter how
seemingly dangerous they were would help greatly in my relationship
with JC as well as my understanding of the world and in my empathy
with others of different views. I was never into the whole “Christian
prudence” thing when it came to learning. I always thought that was a
pretty lame cop-out. I felt myself changing and was afraid of learning
but it never became a crippling, debilitating fear. I knew that to
continue learning would demand a big change in my life, but I never
let the fear get to me. I had to know. Truth is very compelling. I
guess you could say I was pretty liberal by Catholic standards as I
engaged in countless thought-crimes. Obviously, my approach to
thinking and skepticism has radically changed. My conversion is the
result of years of learning and pondering. My main resources were
people (I have friends of various beliefs. Christian exclusivity has
always been a turn off to me – “JC ate with sinners”), people who have
been affected by your work in the God Delusion and your many other
writings and interviews. With the information they have enlightened
themselves with, they engaged me in long discourses and pointed me to
the information you have put out there as well as other resources.
There are many details of my conversion in between, but I'd like to
say that I am thankful to your hard work and find you to be a very
inspirational figure. Although I didn't read your book during my
conversion, I know that you have affected me greatly and for that I am
forever grateful. I have since picked up and read your book and now
have more ammo than ever. It is a wonderful work and I have passed it
on to a friend who I see as in a transitional phase, much like I was
in before. I'm sure he will find it useful. I wish I had THE source
back then. It would have made my transition a lot smoother (it was
very, very difficult).

Recently, a friend of mine from my alma mater told me he had become an
atheist as well. It was a surprise and delight to find someone that
had studied at my former college that was also a convert. That makes
two now that I know of from that school. He has been affected by your
work as well.

Again, thank you for everything on behalf of myself and the many
others who you have affected.



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