Dear Convert’s Corner
The God Delusion did not make me do an about face in my religious beliefs, because I didn’t really have any . but what it do for me was to provide a friendly but firm guiding light that helped me navigate a great fog.
As the son of immigrants of German descent who found themselves in agricultural Midwestern Ontario, Canada, I grew up being mildly indoctrinated into the traditions of the Lutheran church. I remember that my sisters and I were taken to church relatively regularly, and in particular, I clearly recall being dragged off to attend confirmation classes for what seemed like an eternal string of Saturday mornings. I guess that I heard stories involving God and Jesus and heaven and hell etc. a bunch of times. In Sunday school and in confirmation classes we heard stories from the Bible that were supposedly relevant to life. However, even as a young boy I constantly was wondering, ‘is this supposed to really make sense?’ I couldn’t see the connection to real life, it just didn’t add up. It felt weird for there to be such and emphasis on church when I couldn’t see the point of it. I did however get infected by a mild fear of God, and I was somewhat paralyzed by a worry of what would happen if I ever questioned the religious concepts.
I have, beginning with my doctoral studies, become specialized in the area of environmental chemistry. I have grown very interested in the nature of matter and the nature of the planet that we are a part of. I have studied environmental science not only out of interest, but also out of an ambition to be an effective teacher who will be influence students in these important areas. I have thought about the evolution of matter in the universe starting with the big bang and then on through nucleosynthesis and supernovae. I have thought about the formation and evolution of stars, and I have read fascinating theories about the formation of our solar system — that make a lot of sense. My interests have taken me of course, into the area of biology — including the inter-relation of biology and geology. In all such academic areas I have only seen that the assertions of organized religion are ridiculous, unbased, and only get in the way.
When I was a Ph.D. student I spent a lot of time being a private tutor to undergraduate college students, helping them with their chemistry studies. I put a lot of energy into trying to help students make progress in their scholarship. When I read the God Delusion, it was as though I was finally being tutored, in turn, by a scholar much farther along than myself. What a treat!
What a joy it was to be shown the clarity of the logical arguments for and against the existence of a God and to be given the strength to cast aside all the hocus-pocus and lose the religious shame. The God Delusion helped me in almost every aspect of my life. I am a better scientist now, and the book helped me understand natural selection. I also have a clear appreciation now of the threat to science that is posed by the proponents of ‘intelligent design’.
Thank you Professor Dawkins thank you. If ever, during the preparation of this book, or while dealing with the fatigue of having all the interviews and travel, you wondered if it was worth it or if you were reaching anyone, I say yes. You have helped me immeasurably, and I have deep respect for the skill and clarity of your intellect.
Name withheld until I am awarded tenure!