Dear Professor Dawkins,
I have written and rewritten this email too many times, all in the somewhat vain hope that it will do enough justice to the thoughts I wish to convey. Despite its imperfections I send it to you now, because I am aware that I many never
send it otherwise.
I think you will be happy to know that your role in my DE-conversion was that of teacher and educator. My teenage years were lived out in Belfast, where, to avoid religious controversy, the teaching of evolution by natural selection was simply ignored by biology teachers. This left me prey to creationists from whom
I “learnt” that Darwinism was a theory concocted by atheist scientists who “rejected God”.
I was fortunate in that I moved to England where I first stumbled upon one of your books. As I read, the elegance, simplicity and grandeur of Darwin's “dangerous idea” became clear to me. Not only clear but intellectually delightful. As I read more of your books I learnt how to think critically, scientifically and probabilistically. Before I knew it I had the mental tools with which to distinguish sense from nonsense.
I wish I could say that I gave up belief in the Christian God there and then. Although it was obvious to me that the whole point of Darwinism was that no intelligent designer was necessary, I clung to some conception of God for one overriding reason. This was the indoctrination that without “God”,life, moralilty… indeed everything would become meaningless. It took me a few
years of reading other great thinkers from the secular tradition to realize that the real nihilism is forsaking this world for an imaginary hereafter.
It appears to me that many people cling to God primarily for this very reason. They have already been indoctrinated so that “atheism” and “nihilism” are in their minds inexorably linked. Your “attacks on God”, they take as attacks to the core of who they think they are. This, in my humble opinion, seems to be the simple explanation for the incredible amount of hatred directed towards you as evidenced by the “Bad” and “Ugly” sections of your website.
I very much appreciate your Out Campaign. Although I live in the UK,
unfortunately I happen to come from a subculture where declaring oneself an atheist is to effectively outcast oneself. I regret therefore that I have had to write under a pseudonym. I hope that when I am no longer a student, I will have the freedom to dispose of that too. And perhaps one day I will be able to join you in combatting these unquestionable-dogmas that continually perpetuate
ignorance, bigotry and human suffering.