Dear professor Dawkins,
I've been reading about you lately more and more, and I've stumbled across your website and found this convert corner, so I felt need for writing my story.
My name is Ana, and I'm twenty years old biology student. I've been brought up in very religious family of Catholics in Croatia (which is, as you may know, very much Catholic:). I was brought up by my grandparents who were, as old people tend to be, very god-fearing people, deeply religious, but honest, hardworking and essentially good people.
I was baptized, went regularly to church as a child, received First communion and later Confirmation. And then I went to catholic high school, and that is when I started questioning my religion.
I never really gave much thought to religion before that, I was taught that God sees all, that he helps if we pray and that we must not sin if we want to go to heaven. I never felt Christ in me, or his presence, or divine touch of Holy Spirit I was supposed to feel or any of that mumbo-jumbo stuff that people usually say they feel. The only reason I went to church was because I was told to do so, and because I was quite scared of what is priest going to say to me at confession.
My grandparents sent me to high school to another town, and I was living in a dormitory. Soon I stopped going to church because I didn't have any need to do so. And I felt no guilt.
We had Religion course in school, and it was of course obligatory, and there we were taught basic things about Catholic religion and church. That's what really turned me away from religion. I could not understand how come Catholic god is the only right god, and why would people who believe in other gods be condemned to hell just for believing in someone they were taught to believe in, or how is mass and it's rituals any different from other rituals, that Catholics had tendency to mock. And why are all those things that make human beings what they are sins? Why is it sin to have sex before marriage, but not after? Or to use contraception? Why is it sin to be homosexual? Why is it sin to be in despair?
I realized that I cannot be part of the church whose principles I didn't share.
I was still troubled by the question of god. God whose follower I wanted to be was good, and he made us all the same and he would judge us by our deeds and not by our words.
But, did I believe in god, or just in a fair society an love and care for others?
Now I study biology and, probably as everyone who looked more carefully in the world around us, I am fascinated by it. Honestly, I don't know what to think about possibility that there might be creator of all this. I cannot say there is one, as I cannot claim there isn't. We are just sand particles in great ocean of our Universe (or perhaps more universes:) and what do we really know?
For now I believe in Beauty, Freedom, Truth and Love. And Nature 🙂
And I'm going to read some of your books, maybe there are some answers there.