Dear Professor Dawkins,
As a bit of an intro, I'm going to introduce myself. I'm Greg, a 21 year old living in New York City. I was raised as a catholic, and this is the tale of freeing myself from that and all religion.
So I was raised in a catholic home for my childhood, with my mother taking my sister and I to church every Sunday. I was never a fan of that – I liked my sleep! But my mom insisted on taking me every weekend anyway, and enrolled me in basic catholic religion classes. I ended up getting into a catholic high school, and for 4 years I went there.
That proved to be the spark that started the fire of my atheism. When I got in, as a freshman, I began to look into my beliefs on many issues, from science to politics. I formed my opinions pretty quickly, with lots of research. Starting in sophomore year, I had religion class, where we were taught the basic beliefs of catholicism.
This was a problem, as the church's beliefs directly contradicted my own in many areas. I learned in science class about evolution and the age of the earth, but now my religion was telling me that was false. I had no problem with voluntary euthanasia, gay marriage, or abortion, yet my religion was telling me they were evil.
I was confused, but found a few websites of christian churches who believed in the same things I did. So I left catholicism. But without the binds of dogma holding me in, religion seemed a lot less believable. But I still had an attachment to religion – I'd been raised catholic, my family was catholic, and most people I knew were christian. And I found some of the religious arguments believable. I ended up more confused than I started, and completely unsure what I believed. I'd waffle between being christian to agnostic to deist to atheist on a daily basis. I left high school on that note, and entered college.
This is when I found The God Delusion. A friend of mine had recommended it to me, and I considered it an “intro to atheism,” part of my research into various religious beliefs. I'd expected to come out of it with a firmer grasp on atheism; better knowledge to influence my beliefs.
Reading it was quite an interesting experience – I don't think I've ever muttered the phrase “wow, that makes a lot of sense” so much in my life before! At the end of it I had a strong skepticism towards religion, and read the religious apologetic books with a new eye. They didn't hold up. I saw arguments you'd destroyed in your book, arguments I'd dismissed years ago, and quickly thought my way through most points they made.
After hearing the same arguments from books on 3 different religious beliefs, I realized they were all the same – and all just as untrue. Almost three years later, here I am! A happy, contented, and very fulfilled atheist – much more happy, contented, and fulfilled than I ever felt as a christian. There is no god, and I accept and embrace that now.