Dear Professor Dawkins,
Whilst I'm afraid that I can't give you the credit for my current Atheism, I would still like to share my thoughts and feelings on the subject with the other readers of Converts Corner.
I still feel vaguely disgusted with myself for the time that I spent learning the whole Lords prayer and my School prayer at the age of five. I felt so smart and satisfied with myself and that God would surely take notice of how good I was being. This was the first year of Primary School (I'm a Devonian Brit) so I suppose I can't really be blamed for being a little bit gullible, even if I don't like remembering it. I'm now a University student and speak out every chance I get about the absurdity of Christian Worship services in British schools and other related causes.
My Mother was an Agnostic and my Father an Atheist so I guess I had a little help in that there was no God at home even if there was at School. I went to a Methodist College for my Secondary and sixth form education and I must at this point thank my first Pastor, Reverend Brandt for his easygoing form of preaching where sometimes the only place God was mentioned was in the prayer at the end of the service. Some of my best moral lessons came from that man and this made his absence all the worse when the second Pastor came.
By this point I was an out-of-the-closet Atheist. I never sang hymns, never bowed my head to pray or said Amen at the end either. When “God-Girl” (the entire school called her this) came along to take over from Brandt, things got a little difficult. One of the first things she asked our class was how many people were Christians. She seemed taken aback when only three of a class of twenty said they were. She told the rest of us that we were all going to burn in hell. If I wanted that kind of treatment I'd live in America's Bible Belt. She never took any criticism and always had an answer for everything. Knowing what I know now from your books and other sources I would tear her arguments to shreds.
I guess that I'm also lucky to be living in a country where Atheism is seen as a sign of a sane and rational mind, and faith as something to be generally avoided when polite. I'm new to the Online Atheist and Freethought community and still have a lot to look at. I hope someday to be able to debate Theists publicly and start winning not souls, but enquiring minds.
Like you, when I feel in awe of the multitudinous biological and other natural systems around me, I do not reach for ignorance and God but for an even deeper understanding of precisely what It is to be human in a naturalistic Universe.
Keep doing what you're doing, It does make a difference, despite what many nay-saying Theists might say. Converts Corner is the proof after all