If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would eventually renounce my faith, that I would abandon my seemingly unwavering belief in Christianity, and I would do so in an embrace of science I would have claimed my accuser a degenerate and a liar. I was raised in a very conservative Mormon family in a portion of northern Utah that was/is almost exclusively Mormon. Within my childhood I was actively encouraged to use blind faith over active reasoning within most matters of my life. I believed that the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other such books were the words of the lord himself. I believed that Mormonism was the only correct path to a good life. I believed that there were men who were prophets that walked the earth and spoke the word of god. I was a rock of solid, stubborn, impenetrable faith.
My slow translation to rationalism began at the age of 15. At this time I was a student of world history class. The teacher within this class encouraged active discussion about the origin of mankind, the age of the earth, and other such topics. My teacher made sure to bring lots of ideas to the class including many that directly contradicted my own beliefs at the time. Being exuberantly resistive to the contrary opinions of the teacher to my beliefs I, one day, personally addressed the teacher of the class after class over the coursework. I acted childish in every sense of the word when I addressed him. I called him out in a very vile, uneven manner to which he responded in a way that I will never forget. He simply smiled and said “Just give this material a chance. If you give it a honest, good effort I promise you will get something out of it.” My nerves calmed and I walked away unsatisfied.
Later that week I decided to take him to his word. I thought that nothing could shake my strong foundation and that I would call his bluff. I picked up literature with subjects ranging from Biology to the Astrology and began to read. When I began reading these works I took a very antagonistic view of the books and tried to pull them apart in favor of my own beliefs. The more I read, however, the harder I found it to argue contrary to the information contained within them. It felt as though I was finding the many pieces of a puzzle that were slowly coming together, building up to a stunning conclusion. I eventually began to thirst for more and more for information and continued to get scientific literature. This continued well after the conclusion of my world history class.
After a few months of reading I began to question my faith. This lead me to talk to local leaders of the Mormon faith about the conflicts with science and with reason in general to the Mormon religion. In these discussion I was usually left with vague answers that did little more than point me to a scriptural reference or to a speech given by a past LDS prophet. I grew more and more unsatisfied with my faith and with the answers that the Mormon faith was providing.
At the age of 18 I stopped attending church and at the age of 19 I stopped practicing Mormonism altogether and became agnostic. At this time I was focused heavily on the physical sciences. My fascination with the physical sciences was derived from how such complicated motions and phenomenon were created by such simple elements. I was amazed at how the simple definition of a force encompassed so much of the physical world I saw in my day to day life. I began to look for such relations within more aspects of my life and I began to once again pick up literature. I had read The Origins of Species before, but had not understood it at its core at my young initial reading. I decided to give it another go.
I was absolutely blown away and shocked to the core. Natural selection was so simple, so subtle at the surface, and yet absolutely correct. It was my hour of enlightenment, my hour of supreme revelation. I began to gather more books to further its reach. This is the time in which I read a good portion of the literature you have written. At this point I accepted atheism and have not looked back. It has been half a year since this time.
It has been a long journey and I have made many enemies and lost many friends within my life over my conversion. Most of the reactions towards my conversion are those of sadness thinking that I am lost and that I should be pitied. I look at those that are bound by the shackles of religion and feel pity for they do not know of the beauty of the world around them. They do not know the wonder of the universe that surrounds them. They do not know of the astonishing mysteries of this planet that have yet to be solved. They simply shut it all away in favor of focusing on the weak pillars of faith.
I have many to thank for my conversion to rationalism and I have written most of them personally thanking them for the knowledge they have given me. I have but one person left on my list to thank and it is you, Richard Dawkins.
A happy convert.