I want to thank you, Mr. Dawkins, for your dedication to bringing reason to a world shackled by the chains of superstition and illogical thinking. After reading The God Delusion, for the first time in my life, I feel something akin to peace.
For much of my elementary school education, I attended a “Christian” school in the Bible Belt of Virginia. Here I was slapped by teachers and told that “if I had a brain, I'd be dangerous”. Every Wednesday, we were sent into Chapel, where we were told that the day of judgment was coming, and if we were not saved, we would burn in hellfire forever. After being subjected to this nonsense for years, I was understandably scared silly. At the age of seven, I began to exhibit symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). What began as constant hand washing and checking also branched into a fear of displeasing the wrathful God I'd been brainwashed to worship. I began praying almost constantly, hundreds of times a day. This continued even after my parents saw the damage the school was causing to my sister and me and placed us in public school. For years, I was tortured by the fear that I was not saved after all, and that when I died, I'd be thrown into the fiery pit of hell. How could I really trust a God who seemed so vicious and subject to change his mind on a whim?
These questions nagged at me until I was 13, when I decided I could not worship a God who would throw his children into hell for eternity. I began exploring other religions like Wicca and Buddhism, but none seemed to “ring true” to me. I wanted to find a measure of peace, and tried to believe what a kindly professor at college told me, that the answer is in the search itself. However, I feel like I have the answer now, after reading your book. And I can't help but laugh when I think that this answer was there, right in front of me, all my life. But you gave me the key to understanding it and accepting it. For that I can't thank you enough. I see the world with new eyes, and with a new understanding of my place in it.
I still suffer from OCD, and will for the rest of my life, I'm sure. But now, when I'm tempted to check the lock on the door for the tenth time, I tell myself that my belief that the door will magically come unlocked after my repeated checking is just as silly as believing that there is an angry god in the sky waiting to inflict his wrath on sinful humans. And I'm able to walk away from the door. It's amazing what reason and logic can do for all of us.
Thanks again for all you do,