Dear Dr. Dawkins,
I've read some of the conversion stories on your website and was a little suprised to see so many people who grew up the same way I did, feeling similarly as well. I was baptized at the age of 2 (I was adopted so who knows! It may have been my second time getting splashed with water!), was enrolled in the Catholic School Board system, had first communion along with all my peers and received confirmation because everybody else was doing it. Ever since I learned how to read, I couldn't stop. I devoured all sorts of books, but especially loved the myths and legends and stories that took place in fantastic other worlds (like the chronicles of narnia) and also, at least at first, to a lesser extent, history. When I was given a copy of the Children's Bible, I thought “hey, cool, another book”. As I read the book, I continued to look at it in terms of mythology, legend. Even at Church or at school in religion classes, there was always something that just didn't sit quite right. I even joined the “Youth Ministry” at my local diocese, even though I could tell that every time I prayed aloud with the group, the words rang hollow in my ears. In high school I was taught religion by a plain clothes nun who said that evolution was alright, as long as you gave god the credit in the beginning.
Then I started getting into history, and really getting into the Reformation of the Church. I can thank my gr.11 history teacher for giving our class a list of topics, from which I chose to research “the Reformation of the Church: Spiritual or Material?”. At the time, looking at the arguments, basing my opinion on my research and on my own precarious position on Religion, took the stance that it depended on whose position you were looking at. However, these days I cannot look at the Church at all without realizing how material it all is. They talk about the sanctity of the soul, and yet what do they fight over? Material things like who owns what country, who should or shouldn't be able to terminate a pregnancy. The Crusades were horrific, the Inquisition a ghastly piece of work that sometimes is forgotten amongst more recent history. The Christians of the world feel that they are so right, and I've had a discussion with a Korean Christian who argued that only through her church could a person get into heaven. I tried to argue the idea that “hey, if there's a heaven, and a god, wouldn't it be logical that since the world is so large and cultures so varied that there would be more than one path to 'salvation'?” According to her and her priests, not a logical way of thinking at all.
I spent a month in Italy seeing all the spectacular churches and artwork. I've been to the Vatican, heard the last pope speak, saw the Sistine Chapel and felt no overwhelming sense of “faith”. No kinship, nothing. I wasn't moved at all, religiously speaking. For awhile, I felt a bit jealous of other people who had faith, even extreme faith, as my education as a Roman Catholic taught me that something must be wrong with me if I didn't believe. After university I came to South Korea to teach English, and have finally, after many years of researching everything from Christianity, Buddhism, Wiccanism, but most importantly, history, come out as an Atheist. I've had the feeling that I was one for quite some time, but felt a bit uncomfortable with the label. However, after reading a few more books, among them a book called The Mythic Past by Thomas L. Thompson, I concluded with certainty to myself that the Bible is indeed a work of fiction, however I differed in Thompson's assertion that just because the Bible could be a work of fiction, did not mean that it was any less true. To me, the Bible being a work of fiction just underscored my opinion that it was all mythology. Your documentary The Root of All Evil was amazing, and completely convinced me of my Atheistic leanings, and now I can proudly say that I am an Atheist, and believe in the Science and natural order of things, and no longer hold even a little bit of doubt that something larger could exist. The world is truly wonderful in and of itself, and I now feel sufficiently free and unburdened to begin to enjoy it for what it is.
Thank you so much,