Dear Richard Dawkins,
I would first like to thank-you for what you are doing as being an outspoken atheist activist. There are many with similar stories to mine that need a strong voice, one who is public and cannot be ignored. If you asked me 5 years ago if I would ever see myself as becoming an atheist, I would honestly though that would be the most ridiculous idea ever. However, the year is 2009 and just two weeks ago I began to come out of the closet as a full blown atheist.
I grew up in Evangelical Christian home in the United States. My parents took my sister and me to church every Sunday. Every evening, before bedtime, my Father would read children’s Bible stories or The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. In my own world, the concept of Jesus Christ and God was as common knowledge as brushing my teeth. It was when I was about 14 years of age that I had my first doubts. The stories were wonderful, but they seemed to be less than credible. I couldn’t see how the Bible was right about the Earth being a few thousand years old and scientist being right that dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. The story of Noah’s ark seemed less and less credible when I thought about the logistics of fitting two of every kind of animal in a 450 feet long wood barge. If anything, the Bible felt made up to me.
My Father understanding my growing concerns and questions introduced me to the world of Christian apologetics. I think that the simple idea that someone could give a scholarly explanation to the Biblical account was enough to satisfy my questions for the time. Through Christian apologetics, I began to doubt many scientist claims and have a higher appreciation for the Bible and Evangelical Christian theology. I was highly intelligent and knew more about the stories of the Bible more than most people at this point of my life. People would scratch their head when it came to questions such as "Who was Solomon’s mother?" while I quickly blurted, "It was Bathsheba!!!"
Then something happened. My conscious about my surroundings became clear. Many of the Christians I was around had very little understanding of the world around them. It was quite clear that I asked more questions and they lacked to the curiosity to seek answers. Throughout my life in the U.S. Navy I was uncertain who God was. I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to seek answers. It was in 2007 that I asked for the first time the most important question that would change my life, "Is there really even a god?"
Since that time, I read every apologetics book, historical reference to the Bible, science books, and anything else I could get my hands on. I began to watch more science documentaries and became very convinced that evolution had a leg to stand on. I begin realizing the lies and misrepresentation on information that flooded Christian apologetics writings. It was very self-evident that my religious convictions of my youth might have been built on a lie. However, it didn’t satisfy my questions on the existence of God.
Finally, after deciding I want to hear the arguments from both sides of the fence, I bought The God Delusion. At first I thought it would be offensive and a mockery of religion. I ended up enjoying it and found that it made a very rational debate against the concept of a deity. Before long, I realized that I was not enjoying because it was a good piece of literature, but because I completely agreed with the arguments. I also felt it answered some of my questions on the evidence of God’s power through prayers, why would someone consider it doubtful there was a god, and also how religion could be so awful if it helps people. By the time I finished, I realized that I had in someway been an atheist all my life, but had never taken that initiative to say, "I honestly do not believe in a personal god." Currently, I am still going through that "coming out of the closet" phase where I am slowly telling people that I can trust that I truly do not believe in God. It has come at a shock and a price, but I feel a sense of relief that I can admit I am an atheist and not feel ashamed of the fact that I do not believe in a supernatural being.
Thanks for writing this book. It has opened up my eyes and made me feel that people do understand that we all aren’t really buying into the religion idea. Also, this book has been an inspiration at letting me be who I want to be and not feel that I have to conform to religion because it is the "right" thing to do. For me, I find a new sense of happiness in the idea that this is that there ever will be. My philosophy is know to make the most of my life and hope that in some way this world will be made better through me for the next generation.