I'll attempt to keep this as concise as possible, I have so much I could say. I wanted to express my gratitude for the work of Dawkins here for it how has influenced me. From the time that I could speak I was raised in the church; I began leading songs and delivering sermons since before I ever reached a two-digit age. Even at a young age I had doubts and confusion, for example, why and how I ever could love god more than my own family or future wife, or why god in the Old Testament had to resort to drastic measures so often to make his point. I'm now 20 years old, and I've been baptized twice in my life, the most recent one about two years ago, so my newfound atheism is quite a turning point from what I was raised to become. I was baptized again the second time because I believed I was baptized much too young before (around 11, as I recall), and had not fully realized the commitment that I was undertaking, so I had to sort of, give it another go, you might say.
The past two years has been quite a change for me, at first very scary and uncomfortable as I first began to have my faith really tested. I had already formed my own problems with the biblical text, and as a result was not attending church much anymore; I had a lot to work out. When I entered college, and began an elementary philosophy course, all of the problems that I had with the bible became much more burdensome and loud, I was never granted with that gift of selectively hearing or understanding only what I wanted to hear. I could not ignore all of the very powerful arguments against religious belief, and the arguments against supernatural forces or experiences in general. My own research led my on my own path to unbelief, oddly enough, beginning with Henry David Thoreau, which through a minor reference in Walden led me to the historical figure of Zoroaster, which led me to further research on that figure, which led me to Thus Spake Zarathustra, which led me to many atheist works in philosophy and literature in general, among those being your own work.
I was one of those, that I think you might have said something to the same effect once, that did not know I could be… an unbeliever. The idea was completely foreign, really. I had always been told that atheists were so few and foreign, and really believed in god but just hated him, and they never wrote any good books anyway…
But I write to you today with an air of triumph continually surrounding me every day now that I occupy this beautiful earth. To see it for what it really is, and understanding, as it has been better put, is so much better than delusion. My upbringing in the church taught me to generally distrust science and think it rather a bore, but reading your other works on biology and evolution has sparked within me a love for science that I never knew that I had. It has inspired me to change my majors in college and focus on a more science-related degree, I hope to become a science teacher in secondary schools, probably either in Biology or Astronomy, and to also teach Philosophy if life allows.
Your work is altogether invaluable and necessary.