Mr. Richard Dawkins,
Let me begin by acknowledging that although this correspondence is addressed to Richard Dawkins, I have no delusions that he will ever read this, nor would I expect him to do so. Clearly, there are much more pressing matters to attend to rather than to hear another one of these stodgy tales, so I suppose this is more personal, or dare I say, therapeutic.
I am a 39-year-old male living in Midwest America. I was heavily indoctrinated into Christianity as a child and attended a Lutheran school from k3-8th grade. Growing up I had no doubt that there was a miraculous and all-powerful creator whom I was special enough to have a personal relationship with. What a warm and cozy idea.
Fast forward to adulthood and my beliefs of the supernatural tagged along. When my first child was born, I felt an enormous pressure to make certain my children knew and loved Jesus Christ. This was paramount in my parenting. Because, well, their souls depended on me. No pressure.
A few more years passed, and my marriage fell apart (must not have prayed enough). I fell to the lord for help and guidance. A friend and I decided to read the bible Genesis to Revelation in 90 days. I was, as some radical Christians put it, on fire for the lord. I could hear god speaking to me and guiding me. I would pray for an answer to a question and sure and behold my questions were being answered on the radio which was perpetually tuned to Moody radio. I finished the Bible in the 90 days and had never felt closer to god. There was no doubt the spirit of god was alive and strong within me.
Six months passed and I wanted that feeling again, so I decided to read the bible cover to cover again. And this is where things began to take a turn. For currently unknown reasons, the second time around I started really questioning things. Do I really believe all of the Bible literally like I have my whole life? When was this book really written and by whom? As I continued to read, not only was I questioning everything, but, wow, this yahweh is a real monster. Why hadn’t I considered this before? No wonder someone decided to start a new religion. That yahweh is really tough to please. It also became evident with time that religion is a great tool for control. This was written in a time of continual war so getting someone to fight for their life, literally, for your cause is a great tool – enter religion.
The flood gate was opened and questions flowed like a broken water valve. Why am I a Christian? Because I believe Jesus died on the cross? Not good enough. Why am I a Christian? Because my parents are. Why are my parents Christians? Because their parents were. And so on and so on. This simple fact was truly ground shaking and has changed my life forever. Writing this sentence fills me with shame and embarrassment. Why have I never considered this? This embarrassment grew and continues to grow to this day. How could I have been so ridiculous, for so long? How could I have been duped into believing such nonsensical rubbish. Once you leave a cult, you see so much more clearly and can see what the religion really is. Clearly I did not realize I was in a cult. Has a cult member ever realized they are in a cult? The only reason Christianity is not openly considered a cult is because of its popularity. For the life of me, I cannot differentiate between Christianity and a cult.
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon you, Richard Dawkins, on the internet that I realized my questions were not foolish, but rather the idea of religion is foolish. One of the first things I heard you say, was you describing how you first questioned religion and how you realized the only reason you were a Christian was because your parents were, and if you were born in India you would most likely be Hindu, and so on and so forth. This seems so obvious yet so profound to me. Hearing your revelation and how closely it mimicked my own was truly overwhelming. If I was still religious, I’d say god was talking to me. After seeing that clip of you, I went down an internet rabbit hole of religion. I could continue to write for ages on how your words have completely transformed my life. I am confident you are the reason I was able to truly escape the vicious grasp of an evil cult recognized as Christianity. My departure from religion was not overnight. Roughly six months had passed from beginning to question things to realizing I was believing an archaic superstition.
Upon realizing god is not real, I began remembering how certain I was that god was real and talking to me. Remember how I mentioned god was answering my questions through the radio? While thinking about this, I was reminded about when I purchased a new car a couple years prior. I wanted a black Jeep Cherokee. Leading up to the purchase, I overly and obsessively researched Jeep Cherokees, so I was engulfed in the world of Jeep Cherokee. Prior to this I never really noticed many black Jeep Cherokees on the road. The funny thing is, while researching Jeep Cherokee, I noticed that same vehicle everywhere. I mean it, it seemed like everyone was driving a black Jeep Cherokee. Then it dawned on me; I was reading the bible every day and praying every day. I was constantly talking to god. So it is natural that everywhere I looked I saw or heard god. Again, seems so miniscule yet so profound to me.
As I continued to find anything online involving you, I began to understand why I was a Christian, and more importantly how not to be a Christian.
Before I digress any further, I want to mention the thing that bothers me the most. I am truly tormented by this fact. I grossly indoctrinated my children into the cult of Christianity. This has troubled me beyond words. My children were 9 and 10 when I found the truth, so they have a decade of lies and deception ingrained into them by the person they love and trust the most, myself. What do I do from here? I do not want to tell them god is not real, that feels too much like saying god is real so just believe it. I have begun stressing to them to search for the truth in all things by using logic, common sense, and facts and not through superstition. That if something sounds absurd, then it probably is. Not to believe anything just because someone says it is true and that includes myself. I want them to realize how foolish this is on their own, but I am terrified I have done too much damage to reverse. It is important for them to make their own decision and to practice logical thinking. What can I do to help ensure my children do not live the same lie I lived?
Mr. Dawkins, I cannot stress enough the impact you’ve had on my life. The God Delusion has acted as a textbook against the lies of religion. It must be most bizarre to have complete strangers whom you will never meet express how much you mean to them. Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for never stopping or letting up even though you have to answer the same ridiculous questions over and over again. Trust your work is not in vain. It must take so much patience to try and convince people of something that seems so obvious to you. Never give up the fight against the evils of religion. Your ability to remain calm and respectful is coupled beautifully with your brilliance.
With immense adoration,