To whom it may concern,
Although I cannot give you and your books full credit for my sloughing off of religion, they were certainly important in my evolution as a new atheist.
To begin with, as of this writing I am only 19 years old. I was raised in a very conservative Christian home and was a committed Christian myself who prayed
diligently. I remember erasing all “bad” (all pop and rock) music off my iPod in order to free myself from corruption. I read many religious books and memorized Bible verses.
I attended church regularly. I attended a private Christian academy. I believed the earth was 6,000 years old and evolution was a lie by the Devil. I even bought a book produced by the Answers in Genesis organization which tried to scientifically support the Biblical creation myth. My mom even had me taken out of my Biology class when they went over evolution, and I instead wrote a lengthy religious essay to make up for the missed work. My point is, I was deep in religious faith. I was a well indoctrinated child and adolescent.
However, I had always had an interest in science and loved to read science articles online and occasionally books too. For one of my English classes during my third year of high school we would on occasion go to the library and be forced to read something for 20 minutes or so. One day I happened to pick up a book called “The Harmonious Universe” which was basically a layman’s book on cosmology, astronomy, and physics. It had nothing really to do with Darwinian evolution. Nevertheless as I was reading it I came across a particular passage which discussed the age of the universe or something. I remember at that point, having been thus far impressed with the book, beginning to entertain the idea that the Earth really wasn’t 6,000 years old. I quickly then began questioning my whole faith. In one sitting, one science book with nothing to do with evolution or religion, I was converted from a hard-core Christian into a seriously faith-doubting individual, perhaps even an agnostic. My doubt gradually did settle into agnosticism. I, of course, kept all this to myself and continued pretending to be a Christian. At this point, perhaps a few weeks or months after my conversion I remained very sympathetic to religion and religious people and was still quite fearful of atheism.
Over the next several months and up to the present, I read more evolutionary books, articles, and watched videos and transitioned from fearful of atheism and sympathetic to religion to becoming a staunch atheist abhorring religion. After losing religion, it feels as if the whole world has been opened up to me. Contrary to what people might think, the realization that I’m a highly evolved primate and will most definitely die and will most certainly not go to some afterlife paradise was the most liberating feeling ever. I am not fearful of death, but I have a far greater appreciation for life and its shortness. It changes my perspective on so many things. I feel capable of anything now. I’m not just some slave to an invisible supernatural being anymore. And I am no less moral now that I have no faith. Logic, reason, and science provide all the foundations of goodness and morality that I need. In fact, seeing as there is no God, I feel compelled to help people even more now. I yearn for the day when all human beings grow up with all the necessities of life and free of terrible diseases. Now I’m just a first year college student full of hopes and dreams.
Unfortunately, my family and all of my old Christian friends remain unaware of my atheist and I continue to pretend to be a Christian when around them (although it is extremely hard as its difficult to pretend to be something I’m not. So i really don’t pretend, I just don’t mention my atheism and nor do I mention anything religious). I cannot tell my family yet as they would be utterly devastated. The day will come eventually. Dr. Dawkins’ books The Blindwatch Maker, The Greatest Show on Earth, and The God Delusion were instrumental in my transformation into an informed and affirmed atheist. I certainly hope to be a part of the movement to reduce religion’s choke-hold on everything from politics to morality. Some may say it will be impossible to eradicate religion, but we don’t need to completely eradicate religion, we just need 51% of the people to be non-theists. The triumph of reason over superstition and delusion is a great cause indeed.