Thank You , Converts, Tue, Jan 29 2013 #(1391)

Jan 29, 2013

I live in a conservative area in the US. I was very “religious” as a child, though in hindsight I think my devotion was more of a conditioned response to my environment. Religiosity elicited respect, and as the overly-inquisitive child who wanted to talk with the grown-ups, I was particularly vulnerable. What I ended up getting was a fear and shame filled existence, with a constant undertone of confusion over the notion of sincerity.

But when I was about thirteen I was deeply influenced by a biology teacher who was an atheist, but also probably the most moral person I had ever met in my life. I include this for your benefit only; take solace that at least in some places over here, we have outspoken advocates for evolution in our classrooms. He’s a beloved teacher by the parents, in spite of their religiosity and his well-known lack thereof.

Without getting overly detailed, I’ll mention that I read *The God Delusion* when I was seventeen. At the same time I was reading a book called *The Five Thousand Year Leap* as part of a deal with a Liberty University student (in return he had to read *A Brief History of Time*). Your book brought a tidying end to most of my rational, but incomplete, trains of thought. It provided, for the most part, substantive answers to questions that I still had. And it encouraged me to investigate further and move away from passive agnosticism. I read articles, watched documentaries, and most importantly, I closely observed the actions (and what appeared to be the psychological motivations) of my religious friends and family.

I’m glad that your literature was available. It was crucial for me in cementing my atheism during that period of investigation (and, it’s worth mentioning, that period of hilarious juxtaposition. Among the many differences between the two books that I simultaneously read were their respective sections on the relationship between religion and morality. By sheer chance, I came upon them at the same time. It was almost as if I were watching a boxing match.)
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