Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(869)

Jan 30, 2013

Dear Prof. Dawkins,

I cannot restrain myself from writing to thank you for creating the most enlightening work I have ever read – the God Delusion. It has lifted a huge weight from my shoulders and I feel I have been thoroughly immunised to religion and many other bad thoughts for the rest of my life. Perhaps I should explain some of my background.

I am a 31 year old gay man, working as a doctor in Northern Ireland. I was born to a mixed marriage between Protestant and Catholic at the height of the IRA's campaign against such unions here. Happily the death threats from my mother's Catholic family eventually forced my parents to leave, and I grew up in the Republic of Ireland but attended protestant schools – a condition of our leaving the North. My parents had the foresight not to indoctrinate me or my siblings too severely, though it is fair to say that we were all brought up as Christians. My early experiences of the madness in Northern Ireland tempered any trust I might have placed in the church.

In my late teens and twenties I went to university in Belfast and encountered many religious people telling me just how unthinkably evil homosexuality is. While I largely saw past this, convincing myself that if God didn't want people to be gay then he shouldn't make them gay, there was still an uneasy feeling that I was doing something wrong. So I went out with a girl for 3 years and nearly had myself convinced when it all fell apart again.

I am now in a very happy gay relationship with another doctor here, and thanks to your meticulous and carefully reasoned book I have never been happier. My friends say I have become a militant atheist and I have already converted my Dad and my boyfriend to atheism. I have now read extensively on the subject – including every book you ever wrote. I feel very confident arguing the atheist corner and still occasionally re-read The God Delusion as a refresher. I am considering taking on a few of these irrationalists in formal debates now. In short, I have come a long way and I have you to thank for it.

If we don't get past religion we don't have a future as a species on this shrinking planet and that makes rationalism something worth fighting for. From what I can see, the armies of reason are gathering and you have been a great catalyst for this movement. The world is in your debt.

Barry.
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