Dear Dr Dawkins,
I felt compelled to write to you firstly at my utter disgust and shame at the abhorrent things people have said to you in some of the letters printed on your website. I am sure that this is only a fraction of the letters you receive and I feel saddened that people feel the need to direct such anger, hatred and abuse towards you. I hope that you are able to ignore the horrible things that are sent to you and that they become lost in the many more positive and uplifting letters that I have no doubt you rightly receive. I hope that when you receive an abusive aggressive letter from a religious person you are able to find their ignorance and blind sighted religious fanaticism amusing, safe in the knowledge that no matter what your beliefs or scientific findings, you carry them out without the need to resort to abuse, anger and operate with admirable respect and dignity – qualities so clearly lacking in the ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’ letters.
I also wanted to write to thank you. I was first I introduced to your work when your series ‘The God Delusion’ was shown on television. Having been brought up as a Catholic for the past 30 years I found your programmes fascinating. I read everything and all I could that you have published and feel at peace and proud to be an Atheist, finding pleasure in leading a good and altruistic life for the good of myself and those around me, not because I want to be rewarded in ‘the next life’. I feel happy knowing that there is no more after I die, as I find great satisfaction in knowing that my very minute existence is contributing in some tiny way to the continuing evolution of our species. I have a son now and hope to have another child and feel pleased that they will go on to live after me. But I don’t need to feel that I am going to be ‘looking down on them from heaven’ in order to take joy from that. If anything, being an affirmed and happy Atheist is making my life more fulfilled and enriched as I starkly realise that this is the only life we are going to have, there is no ‘eternal life’ or a second chance in heaven, so I ensure that my days are filled with love, happiness and making those around me happy and fulfilled also. I believe that Atheism and your work has made me a better person.
Recently my son turned one year old and my husband and I decided to have a ‘naming ceremony’ for him as we are both Atheists. We did not want a christening/baptism but still wanted to mark the occasion and celebrate his life. I wrote the ceremony myself and a friend read it. There was nothing religious about it but it was so personal and touching. However, the fall out from it by my family was colossal! It caused me week upon week of stress and upset as I was made out to be a god hating, devil worshipping evil person who was refusing to get her innocent child baptised! (Despite the fact that i was clear to them that the devil didn’t exist either!) My family were in uproar and some family members refused to come. I started to read ‘the God Delusion’ again during this time just to keep me sane and strong as it honestly would have been easier to cave in, cancel what we wanted to do for our son and just get our son baptised to keep the family happy. But with your help I stayed strong, we stuck to our guns and gave our son the special day that we wanted, not choosing that path for him. I always reminded myself of your words that there are no such thing as Christian children, just children of Christian parents. I want my son to make his own decisions and pathways in life, not be indoctrinated into something at such a young age.
Thank you for giving me the knowledge and confidence not only to ‘come out’ as an Atheist to my religious family, but also for giving me the courage to see it through and ensure my son starts life the right way, not the ‘righteous’ way.
I think you are an inspiration and I shall always be indebted to you and a follower of your work.
I do hope you and your family always manage to ignore any cruel or abusive things said to you and take heart in the far more enlightened and free thinking people who are inspired by you.
Mrs Victoria Thomson