Dear Professor Dawkins
Like millions of people in the world I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what belief or religion is all about and most importantly which of the countless religious institutions or organizations is the right one. What made it particularly difficult for me is the fact that I am an Ethiopian, a country which is very conservative and where concepts of unbelief and atheism are considered the ultimate sin. In fact the majority of Ethiopians can’t contemplate that there might not be a God and they simply wouldn’t understand if anybody tries to explain this to them. Atheism therefore is a non issue that has no place in that society. However even within such closed societies there are times when extraordinary things happen and in the case of my country atheism was introduced in the late 1960s and early 1970s together with communism. I was a teenager at this time and was fascinated by the thought that if God does not exist then the devil may not also exist. For me the important thing was not the existence of God but that of the devil which was, of course, very frightening. However, as I could not shake the dilemma I had about religion, even after being introduced to atheist concepts, I subscribed to several churches and faiths ranging from fundamental Pentecostalism to the Bahai faith. After looking for the ‘truth’ for a number of years I came to the inevitable conclusion that there simply cannot be a God which would even be remotely similar to the one described in the Bible. This God was quite ridiculous and inexplicable that I could not believe in it no matter how hard I tried. Then I studied social anthropology, learned the structural roots of religion and finally emancipated myself from the doubts that I have entertained so long.
So I have to admit that I was not converted to atheism because of professor Dawkins’ book but I was certainly converted to *active atheism* because of it. I came across ‘The God Delusion’ while I was in England in the summer of 2007 and I was immediately captivated by it. Before that I have not seriously considered that atheism can be a strong positive force which can challenge the huge religious institutions. I was intimated by their sheer massiveness and convinced myself that we cant really do anything to change the situation. But then I came across this fascinating book and saw that reason is infinitely more powerful than superstition and that it is only a matter of time before ignorance is defeated by science. That’s how I became a disciple (sorry for using the word) of Professor Dawkins and I have ever since dedicated myself to promoting reason at every opportunity I get. I really hope that I am contributing in a small way to a cause that I know has the potential to transform humanity.
Thanks again Professor Dawkins