Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(391)

Jan 30, 2013

Subject: My Conversion thanks to Douglas Adams and The Selfish Gene

Dear Professor Dawkins,

Up until a year ago I was an agnostic, and both religion and atheism seemed absurd to me. How could anyone claim to have The Answer, when the very nature of God was so elusive? I was (and still am) a huge fan of Douglas Adams, but whenever I read his thoughts on religion I would cringe. I could never find any faults in what he said, but he seemed a bit pretentious. We can't know for certain that God doesn't exist, so why not just leave it at that?

However, I was still interested in what had turned Mr. Adams into an atheist. Who was this Dawkins fellow he always mentioned? I checked The Selfish Gene out of the library. I didn't expect much. After all, I already understood evolution well enough — our ancestors were slime mold and we were alive because our slime mold ancestors adapted to the environment and the best survived. Ho hum.

It was the most electrifying book I had ever read.

The elegant simplicity of evolution utterly shocked me, and the world suddenly seemed to be a brighter place. By the time I had finished reading The Selfish Gene I was an atheist. I'm still struggling to comprehend why it took me 23 years to begin to understand evolution and its implications. I've always loved science, and I've encountered innumerable bland explanations of evolution. Perhaps the thought of being related to monkeys kept me from thinking too hard about it.

I needed someone to point out that evolution uplifts us as humans. It doesn't reduce us to monkeys or make life meaningless. Instead, it makes us the only animals that have ever figured out why we exist in the first place. I have you to thank for that.

Thank you for all your work as a champion of rational thought, and for helping me understand a little more about the world.

Pete Schallot

My copy of The God Delusion arrived in the mail last week. It warmed my heart to see that you dedicated it to Douglas Adams.

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