Dear Professor Dawkins:
I would consider myself one who is in recovery from mainline Christianity and from religious thinking in general.
I was not born into a church going family, but came to explore several religious/spiritual paths since my youth and finally settled on the Episcopal Church back in the early 80s. But I have also explored Baha'i, Theosophy, Rosicruciansism, and some of the New Age teachings as well. So, I came to religious belief, not from any prodding from my parents, but through my own volition. Fortunately, my parents let me explore on my own, and for that I thank them. This has allowed me to have an open mind, and also to keep a good degree of skepticism alive. There have been several times over the years when I had serious doubts about belief in God, the afterlife, and other supernatural ways of thinking. But I continued to be drawn back in by the transcendental temptations.
However, over the years, I had this dirty little secret that I held to myself. I liked many aspects of the Episcopal Church; the liturgy, the music, and fellowship and such, but I never truly believed some of the core doctrines of Christianity such as the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus as God made man, a literal resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Trinity, a personal God, or the true presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist (yes many Episcopalians do believe this along with the Roman Catholics!). These and many other doubts have only become stronger in the last couple of years or so. Though I had been regularly attending church each Sunday morning until very recently, the doubts continued to mount. Thus, my faith was gradually ebbing away even before I finally sat down to read your excellent book, The God Delusion, which I just finished reading a couple of weeks ago. I am currently reading Varieties of Scientific Experience by the late Carl Sagan, and have ordered Letter to a Christian Nation, and The End of Faith by Sam Harris, along with God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens.
Even though my faith in any religious doctrine was pretty much finished, I do think that your book, along with several online documents and some excellent videos on YouTube helped to finally push me over the edge into, what is for me, the uncharted realm of atheism.
It will be a gradual pulling back from the Church and a couple of church related organizations that I am deeply involved with, but I am already in the process of getting out and leaving religion for good.
So, I am a newcomer to this aspect of life, and I have to admit, at first it was rather frightening for me! I nearly cringed when I would think; “Am I really one of those (atheists) now?” Well, I am afraid that I am. One more “soul” who is in the process of leaving organized religion behind.
Fortunately, I have always loved and been fascinated by science, especially the earth sciences in addition to astronomy and cosmology, and currently hold degrees in meteorology and mathematics. Thank you again, Dr. Dawkins for your work in helping to spread scientific reason. I only wish that I had come to this conclusion earlier in my life. I am now 55 years old, but at least I finally feel free. I think that I can truly say, before I was blind, but now I see!
David W. Lehning