Dear Richard Dawkins
It is with great relief that today I can finally say that I am an atheist. I believe that without you this probably wouldn’t have happened.
I was born into a christian home. My grandfather was the pastor of a local church. So, in accordance to the doctrine of the evangelical church, my parents felt it their duty to make sure their children grew up with the understanding of God, Jesus, and the bible. When I was seven years old I accepted Christ as my savior (while I truly didn’t understand it then, I did understand when I did it again when I was twelve).
When I was in my youth group I was taught many things that I now know are lies but at the time I believed were true. I was told that the earth is roughly 6000 years old and that there was geological evidence that shows it. I was told that it is impossible for a species to change so drastically because “DNA has a build in mechanism that reverts it back to the original state if it is changed too much.”
Later I would take biology in high school. I thank my teacher because even though I was a evangelical christian bigot at the time, he made sure I truly understood evolution. While I did understand it I had chosen to believe that God didn’t do it that way.
When I started college I became friends with an atheist through a mutual hobby (Dungeons and Dragons). I had become much more mature and understanding about other peoples beliefs by this time that our friendship wasn’t an issue to us. Through him I became interested in the textual criticism of the bible. I looked at many lectures and read books about it. This caused me to change my beliefs on how I viewed scripture very much, due in part to the evidence that was presented to me.
At this point I started to struggle very much with what I believed. At the end of this struggle I was still a christian, and while I believed the bible was inspired by God, and he wanted me to read it, I no longer believed that it was an inerrant revelation from God. This caused my parent very much distress. Them being evangelicals their whole life, could not comprehend that I could believe the bible had some errors (this is still a problem with them to this day. Just take a look at how Judas dies in Matthew vs Acts. It would be absurd to think they both happened).
After this I started to question my beliefs on evolution among other things. This is where you come in. Mostly due to the way you passionately talked about it I came to believe that every organism on earth evolved from a common ancestor. I still believed that God started the universe however.
After awhile my co-sunday school teacher was doing a lesson and he showed a video called “Evolution vs God.” Now I’m sure you know of this infamous video by Ray Comfort, but I had not until this point. I was literally sitting there mouth agape at the stupidity that was being spouted out on screen. So after during the discussion I would come to realize that I was the only one in the room of about 15 people that felt Ray Comfort was an idiot who had no idea what he was talking about.
Later that week I would be looking at more videos and I would come across something you said about the crucifixion. You say something along the lines oh how it wasn’t very admirable that God had himself tortured and killed in atonement for the sins of mankind. He was omnipotent, he could just forgive everyone. And that is when it hit me.
At this point I made the toughest decision I have ever made in my life (it might be the toughest one I’ll ever make). I came to the conclusion that I could no longer believe in God. The evidence for the existence of God no longer convinced me as it had since I was 7. I have found great relief in this belief and you were a very big part of that. I no longer feel forced into various political stances simply because of something a book says. I no longer have to condemn homosexuality and can rejoice with these friends when their fight for marriage equality gains a victory.
For all of this and more, I thank you Richard Dawkins