Dear Professor Richard Dawkins
Please forgive my poor English.
I am writing this letter simply to express my gratitude and to thank you for transforming my life. You have changed my life so much and changed the way of my thinking in such way that I don’t have the appropriate language to thank you. You have taught me to think for myself and value the evidence. It is because of you I now know how precious and invaluable every single life form is, how they came about and what is the true explanation of all these beauty, complexity and diversity around us.
I was raised in a typical Muslim family in Bangladesh in a strict religious environment. But I used to love books from a very young age and it was those books that first enlightened me and taught me doubt and scepticism. I am not going in to full details but obviously you can imagine that life is not easy for a freethinker in an orthodox Muslim country. Although, I considered myself a reformist freethinker at that time and wanted to modernise Islam, I wasn’t an atheist back then. In fact, I rather disliked atheists at that time and thought that they are a bunch of pessimists without hope. I knew very little about evolution and didn’t understand it at all. We used to call it "Monkey Theory" and schools teachers used to tell us that it is a wrong theory by Darwin and it has been disproved by scientists, Quran is the source of all science, western scientists always refer to Quran for their discoveries etc And I believed them, why shouldn’t I? They were my teachers.
After finishing my school, I migrated to Australia and started to enjoy my newly found freedom. I was immediately hooked up by the World Wide Web and the ocean of information available there. One day I came across "The God Delusion" in a local book store but I didn’t buy it. I went there next day and flipped through the book but I still didn’t buy it. Because I wasn’t familiar with your name. But on the third day I thought this seems like a good book, I will buy it. So I did. I read the book once from cover to cover and then I read it again cover to cover. The book was fascinating, illuminating and I must say liberating. This was the kind of book I have been craving for. I can now proudly say that I am no longer a fence sitter, I am not a hypocrite or murky any more, my worldview is clear like daylight. To borrow your word, I began to feel that I am now an intellectually satisfied atheist while previously I was a moderate believer betraying reason and faith both.
Now that I know God is dead in my worldview and he is not a satisfactory explanation any longer, I needed to know how exactly all these beauty, complexity, diversity came about. So I bought "Growing up in the Universe" DVD from RDF shop. Watching this Christmas lecture series night after night is probably the most productive thing I have done to myself! The way you presented the arguments, your language, clarity and sharpness, examples and poetic metaphors you used were outstanding. In my point of view, to this day this remains one of your best lectures. As you were speaking behind that big green desk in Royal institution and as I was watching you presenting the case for evolution, I suddenly got it, I got the idea of natural selection. And I thought, hey this makes sense; this is such a simple idea. Why didn’t I get this before? Why didn’t anyone before Darwin get this? As you were explaining various fascinating concepts to those young bright kids and your eyes lit up in excitement – I remembered my school days and my teachers who tried there very best to kill our inquisitiveness and suppressed scientific truth. I felt jealous of those kids listening to your lectures and I thought how lucky they are to be born and raised in a country where scientific scepticism and enquiry is cherished and encouraged, where they have access to such great teachers as you. For a moment I wished I was born again, perhaps in Britain and reclaim my lost childhood. I don’t believe in luck any more, but I do believe that the country or place of your birth determines a lot about your future. If I were born in a progressive secular western country, I think my childhood probably wouldn’t have been wasted this way. But who knows, in a parallel alternate universe I probably am listening to your lecture live in Royal institution! "The universe is queerer that we can suppose."
Going back to "Growing up in the Universe", I watched your lectures over and over again because I was fascinated by the topic and I read "Climbing Mount Improbable" and "The Blind Watchmaker" at the same time as I was watching the Christmas lectures. This helped me a lot to grasp more complex aspects of evolution such as the evolution of eye. I think "Growing up in the Universe" is a must watch for every earthlings, every public library in this planet should have a copy of it.
I have also read "An Ancestor's Tales" and immensely enjoyed the way you told the story backwards to the dawn of life; I felt that I was reading a light story book because the language of the book was so easy to understand. You are uniquely gifted with this quality which I think only late Carl Sagan had. It’s almost a cliché now, but your ability to communicate to mass people and make them understand complex scientific concepts is the secret of your books success and this quality, I must say, is rare in scientific writings.
On the introduction of "Unweaving the Rainbow" where you described beautifully how lucky we all are to be here – is the most heart touching and inspiring of words I have ever read. Your words made a difference in my life and I am sure to many others. Please accept my utmost gratitude for transforming mine and my wife’s life. We are indebt to you for everything you did to spread the light of truth and science among general public.
Before reading you, I took my life and everything around me for granted. Before reading you, I never realised how beautiful this cosmos is, how wonderful and elegant is the machinery of nature and how stupefying the fact is that someone else could have been here in my place, someone completely different! You have raised my consciousness, stripped of the anaesthetics of familiarity that clouded my outlook for so long and above all made me a humble person. I indeed feel privileged to be alive, very lucky to share this epoch with the people I care about most, very lucky to know your works. These feelings, this sense of happiness was absent in my life before I read you. It is because of you my life has transformed completely, my vision has cleared and I can now create my own small purpose in this purposeless beautiful universe. I am grateful to you and I just want to say Thank you for everything.
You are my only hero alive. Yesterday 07 March 2010 when I saw you at Sydney Writer’s Festival, I felt privileged that I saw you face to face for once in my lifetime, I felt very lucky that I got a chance to say 'hello’ to my hero.
I wish you a long, happy, active and healthy life. Nothing last forever (and I wish it was otherwise) but I know that one day, like everyone else, you will leave us and say good bye to this brief epoch, this tiny spark between two enveloping darkness in the immensity of space and time. But before you close your eyes, Dear Richard, know this, your life made difference to countless other lives, you have lit candles, and those candles will lit millions of other candles your light will spread from generation to generation, your books will enlighten new generations of scientists and thinkers. People like you are remembered for their legacy, not for decades but for centuries to come.
Dear Richard, Please accept my utmost gratitude. I salute you.