I would just like to tell you how much you have changed my life. I was born to two freethinking atheists who gave me great religious freedom. I attended church frequently with my best friend's extremely Christian family, and was heavily involved with the youth group there. One of the leaders approached me after about three years and asked if I wanted to be baptized into the Christian faith, and as by that time I had been thoroughly “indoctrinated” – as you put it – I accepted quite happily. Although my parents were sad when I announced my conversion to fundamentalist Christianity, they supported me as much as they could without actually coming into the church. I tried to convert them several times, the last of which ended in my storming out of their house, waving my pamphlets and swearing I would not speak to them again. Despite my parents’ attempts to contact me, I refused to speak to them for several years.
I spent much of my time during and after college reading Christian apologetic books – my favorite was Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ – and I convinced myself that atheists were both deluded and stupid, and I, along with my fellow congregants and friends, took great pleasure in imagining them – including yourself – burning in hell. However, about three years ago, one of my dear friends read your book, The God Delusion, and urged me to as well. I had never previously heard you speak or read any of your books, and I was convinced that with my extensive knowledge of Christian apologetic techniques, I would easily defeat any of your feeble arguments.
In reading your book, though, I was immediately struck down by your systematic dissemblement of the arguments in favor of the Judeo-Christian god. Curious, I read many other atheist books – Christopher Hitchen's God Is Not Great, Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not A Christian, and almost all of the other books referenced in your index – and found myself to be slipping in my beliefs. I talked to my minister, expecting him to banish my problems, but he exacerbated them instead, telling me I would surely go to hell if I did not hold on to my beliefs. The minister's treatment of me – one of the most devoted members of his congregation for more than eight years – was the final nail in the coffin. The next three years were concerned with finding atheist forums online, reestablishing contact with my parents, strengthening relations with my freethinking sister, and finally gathering the courage to revoke my church membership and “come out” as an atheist.
My life since then has been one filled with learning, the exchange of intellectual conversation on various online forums, and a general feeling of wellbeing – I have been significantly happier. Dr. Dawkins, your books filled me with hope, and gave me the courage to end eight years of fear and misery. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you –