Dear Dr. Dawkins,
For the past several months, I have been reading the works of yourself, Kenneth Miller, Daniel Dennett, and others and wish to express sincere gratitude towards you for your efforts.
I am a 20 year old male, beginning my third year studying Biology and Psychology as an undergraduate. For most of my life, I was raised in a deeply religious household where my father was a deacon in the Baptist church and my mother had several involvements as well. Needless to say, I've spent more time in churches than any sane person would wish to spend. Around the age of 12 or so, my parents got a divorce and abandoned many of the duties at the church. My father went on to date (and eventually marry) a woman at this church shortly after, and was subsequently shunned from the church. He began to look at other churches to attend and was barred from a good half-dozen of them when they learned of his marital situation (some were even informed of it by the previous church's pastor). Three to four years later, my mother went on to date and be impregnated by a man from this same church, and was subsequently banished from the church in a horrifying manner. The pastor went as far as to hold “secret” meetings with the congregation after service to discuss my family's situation, and he went on to prohibit any member of the congregation from speaking to our family because my mother refused to give the child up for adoption. I'm happy to say that a few members of the church disregarded this command, but many friendships were lost and my mother was badly hurt during a sensitive time. Needless to say, the hypocrisy of this church really got me thinking.
For the next few years, I bounced around between community churches, Pentecostal, Catholic, Anglican, and Salvation Army churches, and maintained that God exists and the Bible is generally true. After serving for about a year as an altar boy at an Anglican church 2-3 years ago (I assure you, there was no funny business) I found more and more problems within the Bible and, perhaps equally importantly, found considerable pleasure in sleeping in on Sundays. Throughout my later years of high school and my first year in university, I identified myself as little more than a Deist who argued that religion was useful if nothing else.
Enter Richard Dawkins's God Delusion, which coincided with an Early Modern Philosophy course last semester. I was pushed into Agnosticism immediately, as I heard fantastic arguments every direction I turned. As a Biology student, the ignorance of Christianity was unsettling enough but through the encouragement of Dr. Dawkins's words, I stopped clutching at Pascal's wager and let go. I haven't “come out” to many family members or friends, but rather enter silly debates with them regarding radiometric dating, the age of the universe, and the origins of life. I must say, having freed myself from religion, I find much comfort in the concept of subjective morality and everyday find myself in awe of the splendor of the universe. Dr. Dawkins, I thank you for helping me and others like me see the world for what it is.
All the best!