Dear Professor Dawkins,
I write to thank you for the liberating influence you have had on my life. I was raised Roman Catholic (devout Irish Catholic in fact) and 'born-again' into a Charismatic sect of Catholicism at 16, after feelings of intense guilt about the death of my grandmother. In my time as a believer I was wracked with fear of Hell, and went into a deep depression which lasted many years. during this time,I had many vivid dreams of God, angels and devils, which I took to be 'signs' or 'prophecies', marking me out as chosen by God. Through talking to priests and reading Christian mystics, this deluded belief was bolstered. The other year, I read 'The God Delusion', mostly so I could argue against it, but it made me think and seriously question my faith. I slowly came to realise that if I 'put on the atheist glasses', so to speak, I felt freer,more rational and happier than I ever did as a Catholic. I watched your documentary 'Root of all Evil?', re-read 'The God Delusion', and came to see religion for what it was-a mere superstition with no grounding in reality. Realising this, I saw that my nightmares and depression were the result of religious indoctrination and fear, which I am now free from. It is true what you say, about atheism being life-affirming in a way religion never can be. Now I study theology at Cambridge University, and have learned how the Bible is the work of an ancient and primitive culture, not the word of God, how religious doctrines are simply made up, and how the arguments for God's existence are fatally flawed. I know your views on theology, and I wish to reassure you that I am now specialising in Philosophy and Psychology (both real subjects which do not presuppose God at all!), and taking a rational, empirical approach to my studies. I hope in my life to educate others about the non-existence of God and the psychologically damaging effects of religion, and have recommended your books to several of my friends. Once again, many thanks-because of your work, the truth really has set me free. R.