Dear Professor Dawkins:
I am a 20 years old student in the Dominican Republic. 95% of the population on our country is christian, mosltly roman catholic. I was raised as a 7th day adventist since the day I was born by my grandparents. I never met my father, and my mother lives in a different country than I do. When I was 8 years old, my grandparents presented me with the option of baptizing. I rejected it. I was frightned to be in front of all those people. When I was twelve, I was presented with the same option again. I rejected it once more. This time I didn’t knew why exactly. When I started growing up, and becoming a teenager, I had very serious issues with my grandfather. He is very religious, and I always felt he was dissapointed of me for not being as devote as he was.
When I was about 14-16, my grandparents were not happy with me. They said I had changed. I wasn’t praying anymore, wasn’t singing at church, and barely even attended the church’s cult inside. The blame it on heavy metal, to wich im still very into these days. But it wasn’t that at all. I was always an avid reader since very young, something that is sadly, very uncommon in my country. While most of my readings were fantasy or science fiction, I did once stumbled across your book, back in 2006 when I was 16 years old. I was flabbergasted. Even though I wasn’t much into religion, just the existance of a book so challenging of the concept of god, something that for me, was a concept I was obligated to respect, was a big surprise for me. I must admit I read your book after I became an agnostic, but here is the big influence your book had on my decision.
When I heard of your book, I still believed in god. I knew my faith wasn’t strong enough, so I decided to read the bible for the first time. After I did, I was even more confused. About that time, in school, I was introduced to philosophy for the first time. It became, along with literature, my most beloved class. I started reading from my favorite philosophers, since the classical era, to the 20th century of philosophy. Bertrand Russell’s work, made me learn to question everything. Even Religion. But I was afraid. Afraid of admitting that I had become an agnostic. Afraid of admitting that for me, god most likely didnt exist, afraid of telling my grandfather the truth. In a society where 95% of it’s population is christian, you are highly judged for not being one yourself. I never did drugs, I never drank a drop of alcohol, and never smoked a cigarrette. Yet I was always threated as a black sheep, for not getting doped on religion as everybody else.
I finally decided to read your book at that time. It help me not only to reafirm my beliefs on the none-existance of god, or at least the lack of evidence to support such claim, but to overcome my fear. I sat down with my grandfather, and told him the truth. I remember my exact words: “I know you want me to be religious, because you think its right, because you think it is the best for me. I apreciate that, but no thanks. I will continue to be the good grandson you’ve always overlooked, but please, respect my decision. Religion has never been a big part of my life, and quite frankly, it never will”.
Thank you, Mr. Dawkins. Not only did I found the corage within your book to face my grandfather, but he understood. He is not judging me anymore for not being christian, and our relationship has greatly improved. I never thought he would understand. Today im studying for a licenciate on literature, and im hoping to become a great writter such as yourself.
Edwin Peter Barbés