Dear Mr. Dawkins,
One of your biggest points in your book, “The God Delusion” is that of childhood indoctrination. Now that my eyes are open I see the dangers of that grossly unfair practice. I now can’t believe the ignorance I grew up in. I have no doubts that my family loved me and thought they were doing the best for me. I have always loved science, and thought it was strange that so many of my first questions about the dinosaurs and the cosmos were shaken off and avoided by my own family. I attended a Baptist Christian school until I was fifteen. It was a small backward little school. I was taught that Jesus was the “path” to everlasting life, and if you refused him you could expect an eternity in the flames of hellfire. Young earth creationism, the destruction of the dinosaurs by the flood and the exact literal interpretations of all scripture tainted each scholarly subject that was taught.
Luckily, Darwinism was alive and well in the private school business. Survival of the fittest holds true even when it comes to making enough money through monthly tuition payments to keep your doors open. Well, as I mentioned, this school was small and on the verge of closing its doors at any time. It finally did after my ninth grade year. A brand new public school had opened not far from where I lived. It was gigantic compared to the Baptist school. Upon visitation I noticed that the science classrooms had sinks, gas valves, and preserved specimens on display on the back wall. It actually looked like a lab. What? No pictures of Adam, Eve and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! Or the Ark resting atop a mount with a dove perched on Noah’s finger!!!! I was intrigued. I knew, at the Baptist school, I would never get to dissect any creatures or use microscopes. Now that had all changed. I can’t help but snicker to think of it as “divine intervention”.
My tenth grade year was the beginning of my awakening. I was reluctant at first, but real EVIDENCE soon started changing my mind. My Biology teacher, Mrs. Price, was my liberator. She broke the cuffs from my hands and opened my cell, but I was not out of the prison yet. Someone had to smuggle me to the main gate. I hid inside a large piece of equipment called the Hubble space telescope. Its beautiful imagery of the distant past held yet more EVIDENCE for a universe much larger, older and more wondrous than any Bronze-Aged myth’s attempt at trivializing these wonders before an all powerful, all knowing, and all seeing god. For years I sat outside the walls of the prison but still within the fencing. Then, thanks to Wikipedia and YouTube, I discovered Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, and you sir. The fencing was cut and I jumped in the getaway car and was off. I was free at last, free to think.
Unfortunately my excitement is not as wonderful as it should be. Because I live in the southeastern United States, it’s hard to find like minds, or even open minds that can discuss such issues without resorting to name calling or dealing out the “hurt feelings” card. At work I’m surrounded by extreme right wing, bible beating people who are, on the surface very nice, but would surely turn on me if they knew my feelings about the concept of god. It’s very alienating. My family thinks something has happened to me. They say I’ve changed, which I know I have changed, but in a good way. Why is it that people are so quick to dismiss a plethora of gods, but not the one they so blindly cling to? Are they somehow incapable of taking it all in, all the grandeur of the universe without labeling it a divine curio? “Ignorance is bliss” comes to mind when I think about it. Well meaning individuals fighting so hard to stay in the dark because the light may reveal something about ourselves that human pride cannot stomach. I rather walk in the light! Through truth we can find real answers. I thank you Mr. Dawkins. I also thank the many other free thinkers who I now seek out on paper and on the internet. Thank you for the inspiration and the gift of opening my mind to the world of rational thought and critical thinking.