I have just finished reading "The God Delusion" and I find myself quite thrilled that I decided to pick up your book. I had passed it over several times in the book store because I had escaped from a Christian upbringing and discovered the peace and beauty in atheism as a young teen. However, I was quick to realize that although I have found religion to be downright rediculous and absurd, I was guilty of giving religion to much space.
I grew up in the south where the bible belt is tight and have spent a career in law enforcement/military where it seems deep religious ties are strong. I was never afraid to voice my love for science and to "preach" the evidence of evolution, but I have always strayed away from direct counterattacks against religous absurdities even if the oppositions of the debates were quick to "Damn me to hell and beyond"!
The atheists of the world,(I hate that we have a title as if its comparable to religious titles) appreciate that you have been most noble and brilliant in your works. I questioned religion as I did santa claus from early on, but it was at age 10 that I truly passed over to the "bright" side. I was walking between two crosses on a hillside that had been placed for a Christian play that my grandmother was orchestrating and most of my family was participating in when I asked "God" my final question. "If you want me to believe that you are real, this is your chance to make something happen." Funny, I was challenging the almighty because I knew he wasn't there, but maybe I felt the pressure of family and society to give it one more shot! I did however participate in the play to appease my grandmother by being the noise maker of chains as Jesus(my uncle) was led to the cross. How does a 10 year old understand what millions of adults refuse to or cannot?
My work revolves around counterrorism and the events of 9/11 which we know to have been caused by religion in its most extreme form. I travel frequently and When I first purchased your book at the airport, I made a point to never place it face up to avoid the inevitable conversations that follow. I'm proud to be an atheist, but I hate having the debate with strangers or family because I always gave the religious the respect they felt was due while the atheist is trashed with insults and threats. Before I was finished with my first session of your book, I realized how absolutely wrong that position was. No longer will I be on the defense sir! I have been equipped with the evidence needed to debunk all Christian rhetoric for sometime(much of it from your book, The Blind Watchmaker). I finished "The God Delusion" several days ago, but I carry it with me so I can place it FACE UP everywhere I go!
I had no intention of writing a letter this long as if you had time to read such matters. If it was your inclination to actually read it, thanks for your time and your brilliant works. Society can only grow wiser with your words and most surely they will go down in history to the likes of Newton, Darwin, and Einstein and forever help us homo sapiens progress to a "Bright"-er future.