In my 23-some years on this Earth, I've gone from respectfully curious, to headstrong atheism, and I have you to thank for this. My brother and I were raised without religion, and allowed to find our own path in life (something I am eternally grateful for). During high school I attended an Assembly of God church briefly, and my family commented on how much nicer a person I seemed to become as a result (I was even swearing less). Then, abruptly, I gave it all up. Why did I go back on that change? I realised it was for all the wrong reasons. My good deeds and self-censorship were a result of fear of reprisal from an invisible sky wizard, and not born out of a pure intention to be nice, simply to be nice! The nail in my religious coffin was when a preacher told me my recently-departed dog of 11 years would not join me in Heaven, as “animals do not have souls”. “How do you know? Have you been there? Why should I take you word for it?” Too many questions, and too many unsatisfactory answers.
By late high school I had identified myself as agnostic, and excelled at Biology and Chemistry. I maintained my fence-sitting attitude for another 6 years. This changed in 2007, sitting in Adelaide Airport, waiting for my flight to London. I saw a copy of 'The God Delusion' as I passed a book store with my coffee. Despite its ridiculous airport mark-up price, I bought it. I didn't put that book down until I finished it. I read it 3 more times over the next 2 months. I spent hours reading passages out to my travel partners, most of whom were completely disinterested. Their loss. I had the chance to read the Ancestor's Tale over a long weekend, which I devoured with much gusto.
Well I'm hooked. I've purchased every one of your books on Amazon to fill my study bookshelves, and several books by Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. I'd say I've also watched all of your videos (and theirs) that You-Tube has to offer. I hope to make it to the USA for the AAI '09. You sir have changed my life, the way I see this world and our place in it.
Thank you, for raising my consciousness.