Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(999)

Jan 30, 2013

Professor Dawkins,
After reading a few of the posts on Convert's Corner, I felt compelled to write. I've struggled with religion for as far back as I can remember. I never really knew what my father believed and I still don't (honestly, I'm not sure he knows, either) and my mother is Catholic. Both my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother are/were devout (my great-grandmother insisted on having all of us baptised as soon as we were out of the hospital) and my husband's family is devout. I went to a Baptist church as a child and enjoyed getting to play with the other children on Wednesday nights…but I despised Sunday school. The local weather man was my teacher and he never seemed to be able to answer the simple questions of a six-year old. And I was petrified by the story of Abraham–I remember going home thinking “What if God tells my dad to kill me?” When I was in the fourth grade, I gave up going to church, it didn't provide any explanations–why are we here? where did we come from?, etc…. I grew up in South Carolina so I never heard anything about evolution in school except one time: a fifth grade science book mentioned the Big Bang and covered it in less than a paragraph. Throughout junior high and high school, I just ignored any issue of religion at all….although, I would tell people I believed in God but that Jesus was not divine, etc… My freshman year in college, fall 2004, opened my eyes. I was a history major at the local campus of the state university and I was working on a minor in anthropology so I could transfer to the main campus to study archaeology when I first studied evolution in anthropology 101. About the same time, a Jehovah's Witness–a friend of my mother's–asked if I would take a few lessons from her. Out of sheer curiosity, I agreed. While I was learning why saying the pledge and donating blood were wrong from her, I was learning from my professor about gene transfer and natural selection. I had no way of reconciling the two…I think that's when my true 'conversion' happened. But it wasn't until recently that I really realized what atheism is and that I am an atheist and I have you and Christopher Hitchens to thank for it. Hitchens' book God is not Great was an eye-opening read and your lecture in Lynchburg re-enforced my disbelief and made me see that I had no choice but to tell my family how I felt…especially when my cousin asked me to buy a Bible for her daughter's birthday. My mother now thinks she did something wrong when I was growing up, my cousin barely speaks to me, and I cannot have an intelligent conversation with any of my family (not merely for the fact that they are theists, I am the only one with an education beyond high school and I am only one of 4 with a high school diploma–or maybe the two situations are related?). But I thank you. For your insightfulness and candor on the sillyness of religion. I also thank you for truly being scientific about the matter–saying you are a six on a scale of seven because it would be unscientific not to be, adds a level of intelligence that no theist would dare approach. I just purchaed the God Delusion today after I discovered our local library system (I still live in the Bible Belt) does not have a copy and I cannot wait to finish it.
Thank you,
Jessica Webb
Manassas, VA

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