I am 58 years old. I spent most of my adult life as a Christian fundamentalist. My husband and I raised our son in the church, sent him to Christian schools, and I homeschooled him during most of high school. I found you and your books on the Internet. I remember being terrified of reading “The Blind Watchmaker,” but did so ravenously. It was the first time in my life that any of it all made any sense. From there, I graduated to the rest of your books, and branched out to read lots and lots of other authors. I was in my mid forties – a very long time to remain in prison. What a wonderful thing to discover that I had the key to the prison cell in my hand all the time.
My husband and I recently (August 2006) lost our thirty year old only son. He was a musician, and an atheist. We held his memorial celebrations (there were four of them) in bars where he played. They were jam packed with people. Dozens and dozens of people told us how much they appreciated that we had decided to honor Nate's life the way we did. And I have thought many times in the ensuing days about how difficult it would have been for us had we still been embroiled in religious belief. Nathan died accidentally. It's very difficult to be angry with an accident.
The words that gave me the most comfort during that period were the ones you wrote in “Unweaving the Rainbow” and that you put in the new preface to “The God Delusion” – about how incredibly fortunate we are to die, because that means we were fortunate enough to live. Instead of bemoaning the years that Nate will never have, we instead try to focus on the very wonderful 30 years he had. Thank you very much, from the bottom of our hearts, for writing those words.