I am a teenager living in New Jersey, USA being raised as a conservitive Jew. As in the example you gave regarding you wife and schooling, I was unaware that being an athiest was something a person could do, let alone be proud of. Since forsakeing my religion, I feel liberated from the contradiction, double standards, and non-reason that religion consists of. I continue to attend a religious high school because I find the philosophy behind religion practical and fascenating, and because I find it a good place to plant the seeds of doubt. Often, I will present the idea that God does not exist, and that the bible did not happen as written, and people will accept that as an explanation.
I would like to tell you that it was not your books that I found so persuasive, but your videos on youtube. In your attempt to disuade all religions, I found that you focused too heavily on Christianity, and too heavily on extremeism. The only references to Judaesm were somewhat weak and in one case, factually wrong. The case I speak about is on page 294 of the edition with the silver cover. In conservitive Judaesm, the blessing “who did not make me a woman” was replaced with “who made me a free _____”. Hebrew is a language where the gender of the speaker is important, so the blank indicates the gender.
As I was saying, your debates on youtube inspired me to think with reason. Your calm demenor, combined with logical arguements won me over. LIke you, I am not positive that there is no god, but I believe, based on the available evidance, that there is none.
Recently, I finished The Blind Watchmaker, which re enforced my acceptance of Evolution. I have but two questions, which is: was it advantageous for the first reproducing molecules to reproduce, or was their success simply a side effect of the flooding of the world with copies? Why isn't it disadvantageous, for the reproducting orginism itself, for modern orginisms to reproduce? By creating more orginisms in their biological niche, they create a greater competition for recouces which they themself need. Unless a social synergy system developed in step with evolution, this seems mildly problematic.
I am happy to say that my local library has a copy of all of your books, and I have been diligantly reading they as quickly as I can while getting the information. I have been disapointed to find that there is very little debate on the subject of god's existance is regards to judaesm. It is largely tagged on as an afterthought to arguement against christians. I have independently noticed that the Talmud (code of laws) uses proof texts from the bible which are taken out of context and have their meanings reversed, and have seen the contradictions in the bible myself. I would like to find books, on both sides of the issue, debating god in the context of Judaesm. Do you have any suggestions? If not, I hope that you will write one yourself. If you do, I promise that I will be staying up all night in front of the local book shop waiting for it to arrive.
In addition to your books and debates, I have found the website reddit.com to be an incredible source of pride for me as an athiest. Though it has plenty of fallacies, and its tone is not quite as professional as yours, it showed me that I am not alone as an athiest.
Another major part of my conversion, was the acceptance of my choice by the people around me. My girlfriend, about whom I care deeply, is a believer, and an observant one. She knows that I do not share her belief, and will not answer the phone of a saturday or holiday, but is otherwise indiffernt. I hold on to my beliefs, and she keeps hers. I have no desire to 'convert' her.
Being born into a religious family, I am certainly indoctrinated. I find it diffictult to see issues regarding Israel and the middle east clearly, but like issues of god, I try to be objective in the way I examine the evidance.
Overall, I would like to thank you Professor Dawkins, for telling me that I can choose, and that I can be proud, and that I can be an athiest.