Dear Professor Dawkins,
Although I don’t believe in the Bible any more, I do believe it has truths within it & what you said in ‘The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas’ about its ‘cadences being unsurpassed’ is very true (with the exception of some of John Donne’s poems!)
Hence, I think the Parable of the Sower best describes my conversion to Atheism, being as it was long choked by the weeds of Organised religion, fear & my own denial of truth.
However, as my story shows, the seed of Atheism stands tall against weeds of our own devising…
As a 13 year old, I was confirmed in the Anglican church, but fell away in my teenage years.
During my time at University, I was a nihilist (believing, in that paradoxical way, that ‘everything is nothing’!)
Then on leaving University (2006), I met a Charismatic Rhodesian preacher who converted me to Methodism. Almost a month after, I read ‘The God Delusion’ cover-to-cover in about a day. A part of me was convinced by it, but my Oxford educated parents were both Christian & the Methodist church is about all there is to do in my area of the country. Plus I was still stubbornly convinced it was true.
Then I had a car crash.
As a result of the car crash, I made completely the wrong conclusions & was convinced that I hadn’t been ‘holy enough’ & started praying before every car journey – terrified that I’d forget & have another crash owing to my own ‘stiff neck’.
I even became a Methodist local preacher & preached many sermons attacking ‘The New Atheism’, receiving incredulous looks from elderly congregations who’d never heard (or ever would hear) of people like you.
Curiously enough, during this period, I even learnt how to speak in Tongues – an ability that I even have now. So much for it being the Miraculous ‘Tongue of Angels’!
Anyhow, I carried on and my doubts grew until I met a wonderful new Girlfriend.
Christians often speak of ‘God’s Love’ & ‘the Holy Spirit’, but really these are pale versions of real love & real spiritual feelings. After experiencing true love, watching George Carlin’s glorious ‘There is No God’, and reading ‘the Ancestor’s tale’ (which convinced me of evolution), the Old faith finally died & I was left with the pure & simple truth.
It took 6 months to understand the World without God, but there was never any point where I wanted to ‘put the toothpaste back in the tube’.
I split-up with the Girlfriend but, thanks to the books of Sam Harris, I’m now aware of how Atheist/ Eastern spirituality can be many times more sophisticated than its ‘Bushman’ rival (Christianity/ Islam).
I have also recently joined the Conservative Party & have found a purpose – to end the cliche that ‘The Church of England is the Conservative Party at prayer’ & help Atheist-Conservatives (such as Karl Rove & William Hague) come out of the closet about it & stop being so afraid of (almost literally) non-existent opposition.
As a Spiritual Atheist, I am a bit lonelier but, in the words of George Washington ‘It is better to dine alone than in Bad Company’.
I am also much happier, as decisions made by prayer & the Desert Scribblings of Sheep Herders are rarely (if ever) as good as ones thought out with reason & the evolution of ideas.
I’d also say that anyone who’s afraid to ‘come out’ that life is too short to deny what is clearly more honest & better for you.
And in all these things, I give you thanks & praise for giving me the red pill of truth.
Although the blue pill may taste better for a while, the red pill is the one that ultimately satisfies…