Dear Mr. Dawkins,
I’ve finished reading “The God Delusion.” Perhaps the most vital work of information that has ever crossed my path, though I can’t state with complete honesty that it converted me.
I’m 32 years old, a husband, a father of three, and a man that has begged for reason as long as I can remember. I was involved in both the Baptist and Pentecostal faiths as a child, and my family has always had a religious tone. Even as a child, perhaps near 8 years old, I simply knew that something was wrong with the words that were being forced into my mind. I often skipped Sunday school, and even my Baptism, I can say without guilt, had no religious bearing on me whatsoever; I did it for the company of the clan, not the company of the lord.
I’ve wrestled a great deal trying to fit faith into my life. I knew early in life that the bible, and the organization that forwards its teachings, were simply wrong. Even with that, I fell into a pit and spent many years trying to convince myself that a creator could be real, even if the holy texts were terribly wrong.
Somewhere near a decade ago, I abandoned this pitiful pursuit of justification and realized that no matter how much I tried, I would never be faithful. It was near that time that I started carrying the label “agnostic,” but more for reason of social conversation. The label offered no consolation. I was lost, staring into the darkness of the sky, feeling helpless in my world of ignorance.
When I was a child, my grandfather (a WWII vet and not very religious) would often tell me that there would be times in my life more significant than others. These times, he would say, would completely alter my course in the world. Best to notice them when they come along, he warned often.
“The God Delusion,” or my purchasing and reading of it, has been one of those times. I can’t say that it “converted” me, but what I can say is that it helped me to realize I’ve never believed in the first place. It helped me understand that my view on the world of religion isn’t that uncommon. It gave me the courage to finally just call it as it is, to write the damn thing off for good and quit worrying. Your book has given me more consolation than any holy book I’ve ever opened. Not only that, it has given me the courage to be open, to speak out to others, and seek out others like me. It has left me drooling for more knowledge. It has left me astonished at my own ignorance. I have a need to learn more than I can ever recall in my entire life, and that is no exaggeration. You, sir, and those like you – the brilliant minds tossed upon this rock – are Vital to humanity. We need science to take a firm stand against this nonsense. I was denied many lessons in school because of religious conflict – from the teachers. If I had been taught science in its full wonder and honesty from the start, I can say with utmost confidence that I would have had a good deal of years to use for something more beneficial than searching for a reason to be delusional.
I sincerely hope that this email reaches you personally. You have your own reasons for the path you’ve chosen, but in my mind, you are heroic.