Dear Mr Dawkins,
I saw you in a discussion in German TV last year (“Johannes B. Kerner”) where you were the only one defending reason and science against a catholic bishop, a protestant bishop, a member of the christian party and even the host. Watching this discussion it was so obvious for me that those leading religious people had really no argument at all for their belief systems and all they were good at was turning around words. In contrast you argued intelligently, passionatly and convincingly.
So I became interested in your book “The god delusion”.
After I read it, it was not as if you “converted” me to science or destroyed my christian belief – even better: It opened my eyes that I had ALREADY been an atheist a long time, I just did not want to show it or even admit it to myself! Partly because I was raised catholic and I connect happy memories of my childhood with the catholic church (trips, games and above all confraternity) and maybe also because I searched for a sense in the life and faith is such an easy offer. That's why I considered being an atheist as a hollow and mercyless existence.
Therefore I struggeled a lot with myself to force me into faith. As it was obvious for me that all I experience in my life, all I know from school and university is not according to the assumption of a christian (or whatever) god, I really suffered. And confronted in discussions between freinds I always pretended to be so convinced of god, jesus, mary and so on. But in fact I was not and I lied and that's what made me suffer even more. So I jumped at texts claiming that reason and faith are no contradiction, e. g. Benedict XVI's works – but I found them not convincing at all.
After reading some of your books and others dealing with faith and science I know now: It's nothing wrong about being an atheist! Fighting reason by faith is just unneccesary. Without faith the world does not lose fascination and beauty – it gains.
So now I do not have to lie to others and to myself anymore.
One of the sentences you said in that TV discussion (as an answer to the question, if it was not sad to think that there was no afterlife and life literally ends with death) often echoes in my mind: “The universe doesn't owe you comfort!” – How true!
But besides the truth of the sentence I thought: Isn't a finite life even more comforting? I think yes because I do not have to fear purgatory and hell anymore. And mainly because an eternal existence after life loses every meaning. If there is no end, there is no goal. Everything you do, dream and think would be irrelevant and everything would simply be boring. So the meaning of life in my opinion doesn't have to be searched anymore: All you do, dream and think in your life is the meaning. The fact of life IS the meaning.
Now I feel free and happy about this gnawing problem – and your works, Mr Dawkins, contributed to that a lot. Thank you!
Now when I look into the sky I do not doubtfully think about a creator, his plans and his will anymore. I see the beauty of the stars, light from millions of years ago – and isn't that just more fascinating than god?