Dear Richard Dawkins,
I was raised in the Jehovah's Witnesses faith since birth. It was interesting that many of the beliefs held by other Christian religions were inherently not in this faith. I was never taught that Father Christmas was real, or the Easter Bunny, Halloween or any of that. I was also raised not to celebrate birthdays or Christmas or taught that there was an afterlife in heaven or hell when I would die. In fact I was taught somewhat about the erroneous origins of these beliefs. The fact still remained though that I was in the strictly controlled environment of religion.
My doubts as a 16 year old began to grow over the following couple of years due to the fact that one was unable to investigate further than the provisions from the faith itself. To really question from an objective point of view. All other literature or information was deemed to be apostate in nature and it was from there that this perceived 'truth' seemed to me to be too frightened to be held up to any scrutiny. By the time I had reached 19 I was doubting this once mighty fortress as a house of cards but could see no real reason to leave. It had been all I had known. This is where you came in and nuked the whole thing before my eyes.
A friend of mine loaned me his brand new hardback copy of your (at the time) recently published book, 'Unweaving the Rainbow'. I became so immediately engrossed in this concept of the world and things in it (especially where you were talking about prayer) that I couldn't stop reading! I would walk to the train station in the mornings on my way to work reading and walking home in the evenings, oblivious to everything around me. It was a wonder I wasn't run over! It gave the the first steps to make changes in my life and something real to believe in for the first time in my life. From there I started to feel that I was free to investigate and question things. I followed by reading books by James Randi, exposing charlatans in other fields. I began to study science subjects in my own time too. I even read 'A Brief History of Time' by Stephen Hawking… three times… but only because it took me three goes to actually understand it! Nevertheless, none of this could have happened if it wasn't for your revelation to me by way of 'Unweaving the Rainbow'.
It has all come full circle now with the media attention that 'The God Delusion' has generated along with a massive presence of like minded media on the internet, such as YouTube, my focus has once again been returned to your work. I very recently purchased your eight books from 'The Selfish Gene' (brilliant, even a dullard like me could understand it… with a little effort!) all the way through to 'The God Delusion'. I am currently reading 'The Extended Phenotype' and am loving reading through your works. Can't wait to read 'Unweaving the Rainbow' again now I am nearly 30 or indeed your latest, 'The God Delusion'. Needless to say my still faithfully family members have little good to say about the 'Evil Richard Dawkins' but I wish to say thank you. Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge with the world and most of all with me. You really have changed my life.
Graham Luke Peniket