About six months ago, I felt myself moving away from religion. I couldn't understand how only one religion could be right, and I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that God is good, yet he lets so many bad things happen. Around this time, I was fortunate to discover your book, The God Delusion, at a local Barns and Noble. I had seen you on Real Time with Bill Maher, and was intrigued by the book. After much deliberation, I bought the book and was absolutely consumed by it, in the best possible way. I know in your book that your greatest wish is that a person would open the book as a hardcore religious person and then close it as an atheist. While I was most likely a weak Christian or a deist when I opened the book, I nonetheless walked away a convinced atheist. In fact, I was ready to call myself an atheist before I even got through the preface. And by “preface,” I mean the first preface, the “preface to the paperback edition.” I soon became a big fan of yours, and I watched The Root of All Evil, the Four Horsemen, etc.
Well, after a half year of atheism, I can say I'm living a happy and fulfilling life. I am a college student and I'm still making good grades, and I'm happier than I've ever been. Also, I've recently found someone who I love and believe is my soul mate (or whatever the secular version of this is, lol). This all demonstrated to me that being an atheist was OK and I really could have a fulfilling and love-filled life while still maintaining a non-religious life.
This whole process of changing has really surprised me. However, it has also revealed details of my life that made me realize that I was an atheist from a very early age. The process has surprised me because I was raised in a fairly conservative (Protestant) Christian family in the Bible belt of America. I went to church on a bi-weekly basis, and was in junior church/Sunday school for most of my life. Throughout my teen years, I still remained an ardent Christian, and did not move away from religion, like so many kids my age did. However, your book revealed ideas that I felt before, even as a Christian. As a kid (even from an early age, say 10) I constantly felt as though other people got something out of religion that I did not; I never felt that salvation and uplifting power that they spoke of. But your book echoed my views and reinforced them. Now I have my own views on religion, ones that are formed through my own studies; I think you would support this way of forming views. I “came out” to my father and stepmom, and they were amazingly supportive, even though they are Christians/deists. I'm working on coming out to my other relatives as well. I could write a book about how appreciative I am of your works, though instead I will just say this. Thank you, Professor Dawkins, for writing a book that has given people like me the ability to say without fear “I am an atheist.”