While my conversion to atheism has not been entirely due to your work Mr. Dawkins, it has certainly taken influence from it.
I was not at all raised in a religous family. As a child, the only things I was really taught were that my parents had some sort of a belief in reincarnation, but for all practical matters to consult science as the main way of understanding the universe. However, being raised in a very religious and conservative part of the country, at a young age I found myself isolated in alot of ways and needing to explain to myself a spiritual world view. Instead of making a jump to the logic of my childhood, I found a new faith in neo-paganism as I felt it clashed well with many of my pre-existing political assumptions and therefore was a comfortable fit in helping me explain the universe in a spiritual manner. Over time I did alot of study in it to help fight and defend the views of myself and other modern pagans in a conservative area of the country. However often I felt very uncomfortable with the faith as it has a great number of points where one cannot feel reasonable in practicing or believing it. However instead of coming to obvious conclusions, as many people do with faith I looked for more ways to justify unreasonable beliefs. However, as years pasted it became more obvious to myself that I was using it as more of a “cultural background” type of deal, instead of truely believing alot of the stuff that was taught. What started to break me was my assassociations with other neo-pagans, as many I encountered where either semi-delusional, using the faith to make themselves feel important, or as an excuse for something else(sex,drugs), even as many of them had spent little time in study and most knew next to nothing about the larger theological implications of paganism. However I continued to defend them as I felt I had a spiritual obligation that was mandatory in my fate centered view of the world. After a break of a couple years from school, I decided to return and go to college. With my faith already declining I ended up taking serious courses in psychology(& abnormal psych more importantly), and serious philosophy for the first time. For the record I had never had any problems with science and faith, biology, physics tended to only make me more faithful. However the abnormal psych and philosophy courses started moving away more from my previous beliefs, and made me start to feel that I had became a religious apologist. I can't remember exactly when it happened, but eventually I moved away from the beliefs I had, and started trying to figure out where I was. During this point, a wonderful thing happened, Youtube. By accident, I came across an episode of Penn & Tellers Bullshit! that had been illegally put onto the site. However, lucky for Penn & Teller I became a huge fan and ordered all the DVD's. I became increasingly interested in skepticism. I found I agreed with the skeptics more and more. But I had a hard time moving toward the conclusion that there was no god or supernatural element at all. However, via Bullshit!, I was made more curious about many topics(and also introduced to some interesting characters such as Randi and Hitchens). Once again, while looking on youtube, I came across the documentary “The Root of all Evil” which sent me questioning even more. With the arguement of the celestial teapot almost bringing to full conversion, it was a week later when i found out that the reason one of my coworkers hated me(who was far from any sort of moral high standard herself) was because I was not a christian. With this, my conversion was complete. Only 5 months into my new found world view, I feel sadden and robbed of time from all the years wasted away. I have found a new curiosity and love for the world. Realizing that it is the here and now that matters to us, that our relationships to each other and the world around us that really matter, I have also found a new much higher sense of morality that finally touches me completely. Our limited time gives me a new preciousness to each minute, each book, every song and every kiss. Thank you for helping me not waste any more time.
Faithless in the bible belt