To Professor Richard Dawkins,
I grew up in an ultra-orthodox christian home. I did not know any better, but to believe what my Mother told me to in relation to matters like god, the planet, life in general etc. All these views were ultra christian.
I was taught evolution in biology classes, in high school. I didn't think much of it at the time. Looking back, I think that the way that evolution was taught to me may not have been very satisfactory. Evolution was taught to me very simply and briefly. I remember it as being glanced over, not in much depth etc. It could have been expanded on. Rather, I feel that it was taught to me from the perspective of being basically just another ” theory” or another “explanation” that was available to me if I wanted it.
It was not until I left school that I discovered more and more that religion and faith were subjects that I had difficulty with. I just didn't feel comfortable with religion and with religious dogma.
I would like to explain some of the reasons why:-
– Christians spend their entire lives trying to please god, while at the same time resisting the devil.
– There is no evidence that such a worldview is correct.
– I suspect that holding such a worldview would not be a psychologically healthy one to live by, for anyone.
– I have found that when I was in the company of religious christian people, (ie pastors included) some of them tended to talk about the devil/hell a bit too much for my liking. Yet they still called themselves christians? That really didn't make sense to me at the time.
– Some christians tended to use the fear of hell to threaten other people with. ( whether they were aware of it or not) An example could include the topic of not baptising your children etc.
– I think that the whole institution of religion is set up around child abuse. It has to be, because religion can only survive if sucessive generations are induced to believe in the dogmas that are passed down from one generation to the other. Therefore it would make sense that not all of the dogmas are pleasing, comforting ones. Some of them could be quite threatening/frightening ones – but I guess that they would act as inducements to keep the whole institution of religion going. To put it simply, children are brainwashed to believe in dogmas in any religion – that's it.
– I have asked the question why there is no express commandment in the christian religion that says “Though shalt not abuse thy children” – If it did have it, I suspect that western socities would be very different to the way they are today.
The point that I am trying to make is that some of the dogma is just plain disturbing.
As a result, a lot of the dogma went against my reason. I was finding myself more and more not being able to make much sense of religion and religious dogma.
Slowly, I began to doubt the existence of any deity / supernaturalism.
This was not easy to do.
It came as a great boon to me to discover that there were other people around like yourself that lived by reason, and in the absense of religion/religious faith still lived fullfilling moral lives (ie atheists, agnostics, secular humanists etc) And reading about such topics is what interests me a lot.
I have read a couple of your books, and most of your articles. I am planning to eventually read all of your books. I like reading your books, but I also like reading your articles particularly. I see your articles as compact versions of your books, where you get straight to the point that you are trying to make in each of them.
I understand evolution a lot better from reading them. I also understand the point that you made about how evolution can satisfactorily explain our existence, without the need to resort to supernatural explanations.
I still don't get the awe and wonder part, that you keep mentioning in your books and articles. I am hoping that you may like to write a whole article about it, where you explain precisely what you mean in a step by step way. I accept evolution, but I don't think that I do have any of the wonder about it that you have talked about.
Evolution produces some brutal results ie one animal kills another to survive. I do not see where the awe is in that ?? The only thing that I may understand about that is that nature is neither cruel nor kind, just indifferent.
You may say that a cheetah, for example, looks graceful and beautiful a creature. But you yourself have stated that many cheetah ancestors have had to die to make the cheetah the very graceful and beautiful cat that it is today. Again, I just don't see where the awe and wonder is in that.
Thank You Professor Dawkins