Dear Richard Dawkins
I have struggled with religion for as long as i can remember. My earliest memory is when I was about six or seven and I told my jamaican grandmother that I didn’t believe in jesus or god. I got the beating of my life and was forced to go to church with her on Sunday’s for about a good year or so. The people in the church were all west Indian and things could get quite animated, especially when the choir was going. I had never seen so much emotion in one room, and it has always stuck with me. Some people were huddled over crying and some seemed to be in some sort of trance like state, swaying about with their eyes closed. I couldn’t feel anything myself, and I never did in all my visits. But the fact that all of these adults were obviously getting some thing amazing out of the most boring three hours of my life made me come to one conclusion. There was a god, and he hated me for not believing in him before. Wanting to get god back on side I starting praying daily, and a little part of me actually wanted to go to church on a sunday so I could establish some kind of connection. All of this had no effect. I didn’t pray for miracles or sweets or anything like that. I simply prayed for god to reveal himself to me in some way. I wanted to feel what all those adults in church were feeling. The fact that i didn’t after what seemed to me, (a little boy) an eternity, soon made me resentful and I managed to get out of going to church with grandma. I still prayed when I remembered and did my best to be a good boy for several years until I moved to Crawley when I was 11. There I met my one of my closet friends who is Hindu. For what ever reason we started chatting about religion and he told me what he believed in. I can remember laughing when he told me about Ganesh and another cow god and him getting really angry. Obviously I found what he was telling me was absolutely absurd and couldn’t believe that he thought this was true. I told mum that day about what I had heard and she just went on to explain that there were lots of different religions and that people believed in different things. I’d never thought about it before, but immediately my first thought was somebody has to be wrong. How can they all be true? Still though i thought I must be backing the right guy because I’d seen all those people in church being touched by god. I started reading the bible with some difficulty as it is really boring, and while reading it I found some of the things in it just as absurd as the six armed elephant god. All the people I spoke to gave weak explanations and id walk away more confused. I then decided to dismiss all religion, but still believed there was a god. It became more and more frustrating to me that I was actively seeking answers and speaking to god but not getting anything back. Surely if there was a higher power watching over us he would be more proud of one of his creations that was using the logic he gave me to to seek truths, rather than some person just blindly believing what his parents told him? Eventually I came to think of god as a bit of an expletive really. If he didn’t care for me then why should I for him? It still hung heavy sometimes though. Its not nice worrying about going to hell just because some guy upstairs has got a grudge.
Well on my twentieth birthday last year a friend of mine gave me a copy of your book. The god delusion. In it, nearly every single question I have had was argued with reason and logic that made more sense than anything I have ever heard. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. That’s why he never came to me, he doesn’t exist!! I can’t thank you or the friend who bought me your book enough. I am now a huge fan and follow a lot of your debates. I feel sorry for you sometimes and admire you for the way you put up with some of the stupid questions that are put your way. Even though I have only been an atheist for a short time I now see myself as quite a militant one. God and religion have caused me a lot of grief and personal torment, and I’m sure others much more. The more people that can be freed of it the better. I still can’t help but think about those people in the church though… What the hell were they on? It’s amazing how a few over enthusiastic people can shape a Childs perception. Well you book has shattered it and I am very grateful
Many many thanks