Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(929)

Jan 30, 2013

Prof Dawkins,

I grew up in a religious household. It was my dad's religion that dominated the family, my mum seemed to be just going along with it, until she divorced him in my early teens. He is a creationist, believing in a literal reading of the bible. I didn't know about the term 'creationism' and my dad never used the term himself- he was, in his view, just a 'Christian', it is everyone else who has deviated. My siblings and I were raised to believe that everything he said, from the earth being very young to homosexuals being very unhappy, was absolutely true and natural to believe.

My knowledge of the world was as limited as the restrictions from Christianity could make it. When I was eight I repeated the word 'dork' from a TV show. My dad forbid me to watch it again, without explanation. That pattern followed through all of my developmental years. Anything that didn't cohere to dad's belief system was banned. What I knew of evolution came from a single lesson in science class at school- a single, one-hour lesson compared to fifteen years of indoctrination.

I admit that I don't like the word 'indoctrination'. It seems to imply malicious intent. But my dad genuinely believed what he told me. That doesn't make it any less untrue, but I see it as more sad than wicked.

I moved out at seventeen and went on with my life but I continued to sit quietly and unquestioningly by as my dad began raising my seven-year-old adopted brother in the same way he'd raised me. Then, two years ago, I read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I had heard about those glorious moments when everything falls into place plenty before from people at church describing their first reading of the Bible. Reading The God Delusion was just like that for me. I understood why I didn't believe in God, or any god, and all those unanswered questions from my childhood- why is God like this? Why did He do that?- were suddenly answered in pages of logic that I could follow and understand for myself. Not a single page in the bilble did that for me. The best thing for me was that at the end of reading it, I DIDN'T agree with everything the author said, and I was allowed to.

After reading a single book- The Blind Watchmaker, again by Richard dawkins- the theory of evolution made absolute sense to me. Then I went and challenged it from every angle I could, then looked at the evidence, challenged that, and looked at more evidence. I read everything by Dawkins, Gould and others, and read every bit of creationist literature I could find. It all undeniably pointed to the truth of evolution. With that knowledge the world started to make sense and I knew who I was.

I have a lot of questions for my dad that I haven't yet been able to ask. I do feel somewhat resentful toward him- he was supposed to be my carer and he didn't check a single fact for himself. I feel I was denied a proper education and was placed second in my dad's life, behind his religious beliefs. I have 'come out' as an atheist to him, but so far he has not acknowledged any respect to my alternative views.

Thank you for everything you do for truth.
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