Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(1150)

Jan 30, 2013

Professor Dawkins,
Thank you for all your efforts in shining the light of reason, as a beacon of hope and direction, for the world's embattled truth seekers. I count myself in that fortunate number.

My 'letting go of god and religion' story began in December of 1962 at the tender age of 9 when, despite being surrounded by religious extremism, I found myself questioning the concept of god. It was almost 46 years later, to the day, when I finally broke the spell of 'belief'. Your book “The God Delusion” played handily into this event. I was emboldened by your writings as well as the works of Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Julia Sweeney, and to a lesser extent, various others. It takes a herculean effort to dislodge oneself from a lifelong belief system, especially when said system is as completely and utterly indoctrinated into a person as was with me. I regret only that I did not escape this mental and emotional slavery at an earlier age.

I recall, as a young boy, the terrible nightmares I would have wherein I and my siblings were burning in hellfire. A hellfire that was described quite graphically by my religious instructors. As I mentioned earlier I first questioned the concept of god, when at the age of 9 I found myself in circumstances that were at odds with the picture of the loving benevolent god my parents first taught me about. Later, at the age of 19 I rebelled and participated in some sophmoric blasphemic behaviour, but the concept of a world without a god still eluded me. That mental handicap has cost me dearly. Many are decision I would have handled differently had I been free to see the world as it really is. How many were the time when I would forego my own happiness because of a superstition.

I sought refuge in drugs during my 20's & early 30's to quiet the turmoil inside. Of course drugs, by their very nature, make a poor substitute for the truth. The drugs went by the wayside, yet still I couldn't bring myself to cast off the beliefs that were harming me. It wasn't until the ripe age of 55 that I finally squared off and faced the demon of unsubstantiated belief. I had begun reading your book a few weeks earlier, and found myself viewing videos and reading books by your contemporaries. I was extremely depressed and nearly suicidal at moments. It's a sad and scary thing to discover that you've been wrong your entire life. I think I was also a little raw from having ripped away the security blanket of believing in god. Now I had to examine my life as something that I alone was responsible for.

The days since this past December have gotten gradually better. I have gotten better. I try not to spend to much time in regret, but rather to make the most of the days I have left. I am most grateful to you and others like you, for helping me to awaken to life -not as I might wish it- but as it truly is. This adventure is so much richer and fulfilling than any religious fantasy could ever be. I don't take a single day for granted now. I am coming alive!

Your most grateful reader (and fan),
Mr. Harold E. Taylor

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