Dear Mr. Dawkins,
I just wanted to share how much you’ve genuinely impacted me in the past couple of weeks.
I’m a sixteen-year-old girl living in the “Bible Belt” of the United States, which inevitably means that Christianity is around every corner. I was born a Jehovah’s Witness, but even with my few years of experience in life, I always somewhat questioned it. Nonetheless, I blindly followed it out of fear and lack of knowledge that there could be something different in life than what I was brought up with. When my father died (he was agnostic), my mom went through a very rough time and we drifted out of the Witness community. We stopped attending meetings completely around the time that I was nine. I never discussed religion with any of my friends, because they were all devout Christians and I didn’t know much about mainstream Christianity. Although, a few years later, I attended church with them a few times, and I always felt comfortable in it. Not because of the teachings in any way, but because everyone was involved in Christianity, and I felt like I fit it.
Things changed last year when I started high school. I joined the debate team, and, being a group of highly critical thinkers, the students in it were mainly all agnostic or atheist. At that point I still believed there was a god, but was not a part of any organized religion and had not attended church in awhile. My group of friends completely changed, and I began to think differently. I made friends with a girl who is now my best friend, and she converted to atheism halfway through the year after being completely devoted to Christ. I was not nearly as atheistic as her at this point, though. This year, I began questioning things completely for two main reasons: Reddit (which I’m sure you’re aware of, because I watched a wonderfully enlightening/hilarious video of you answering questions from Reddit and reading hate mail in your adorable British accent), and you.
I had no idea who you were until about two weeks ago when I stumbled upon your “What If You’re Wrong?” video. That opened the door to numerous other videos, and countless hours of watching you debate and present your logic to believers. You made complete sense to me, and I felt completely different. I am now confident in my atheism because of you. Though I haven’t come out to my mom yet, I feel more comfortable with life in general after watching you speak. You’ve inspired me to think boldly and intellectually, and I couldn’t be more grateful. My next goal is to read your books, because I’m sure that will only further and concrete my decisions regarding atheism, but I’m just not sure how to get them without my mother finding out. Her fiance is an ex-pastor who strongly believes in God, and she told me about a month ago that she would feel like a failure of a parent if I turned out agnostic like my brother. I don’t know how to get my hands on atheist books, let alone break her heart by telling her I’m an atheist myself.
But, because of you, Mr. Dawkins, I can fully admit to myself that I’m an atheist, and I think that’s a pretty good first step. Thank you for giving me the power to be me, and to live my life how I want to, rather than trying to mold into what the Christian god would want me to be. I’m so glad that I discovered what you have to say so early on in my life, because I know it will change my future completely.
Thank you so much,