Hello Dr. Dawkins,
I was once an evangelical Christian of the strongest belief. I prayed constantly, I went on mission trips to Mexico, I led my worship team and studied the Bible to the best of my ability.
I realized the problems of Christianity. It was after a chain reaction, first becoming very very ill, being diagnosed as mentally ill with severe depression, OCD, and Tourette's. I had such trouble with the idea that God worked for “the good of those who are called according to his purpose” that I left Evangelical Christianity and retreated to the Episcopalian Church, where I could believe whatever I wanted, and in this case it came down to a belief in the God of Ecclesiastes and Job, an unquestionable god whose ways could not be understood by mere mortals.
I was once an intelligent design advocate. The constant mantra of believing in microevolution and not macroevolution. I was taught lies, brutal, unacceptable lies in my Sunday School classes that attempted to give its student a way around Darwinism. I even attended a lecture by William Dembski, and thought he truly had shown a way out of atheism… but then I discovered the immense ignorance of all these people, and Dembski's total and complete lack of scientific achievement, having not published more than a few papers in many, many years.
But it came to pass that I watched many of your videos, and also read “The Reason Driven Life” by Robert Price (a great book that I heartily recommend to any of my Christian friends, though I was once told that the ideology of “I don't care what you believe at the end of this book, so long as you are made to think” was, as my friend called it, “such an atheist thing to say”… apparently thinking is the cause of atheism, I think you would agree actually). It was at this moment, realizing the true terror of a belief in hell, the true horror that Christianity proposed an unquestioning faith in a god who often left morals and ethics at the door when it suited his purposes, the horror of a god that let Abraham nearly sacrifice his son, in a way that Kierkegaard put it, as a knight of faith. I realized that in order to remain a Christian I had to be god's “yes-man”, I had to say that whatever god said was absolute truth even when it was nonsensical, and in the footsteps of one of Dostoevsky's characters in “The Grand Inquisitor” I firmly said, this I will not do, the price of giving up my integrity for some god, to be in his “in-group” was far to great a price to pay.
I was freed of ignorance, I was freed to believe that despair was true despair, that tragedy was true tragedy, not some piece of a greater plan, that random chance effects us all, and that we can truly despair at the sight of tragedy, instead of fighting despair to believe in a god who is omnipotent and omniscient, and no matter how you slice it was partially responsible for every terrible thing that had ever happened.
I thank you Dr. Dawkins, and hope that you continue the fight valiantly.