I grew up in a very conservative mennonite upbringing. My father is now a "non-denominational" minister, and even though he wasn't a minister while I was growing up, it was still a very religious upbringing I'd had.
I had many doubts while I was growing up in the church, and I was always disappointed with the answers to the questions I'd pose. I would ask things like, "how do we know Christianity is the ONE true religion?" or, "why doesn't the Bible mention anything to do with dinosaurs?" or, "why do good things happen to bad people?" The answer I'd receive was very often something along the lines of, "Ask God, and he will provide you with an answer." Which I always felt was a cop out. I thought, "if you're telling me this is the Truth, then there should be an answer." If I state "2+2=4" and you ask, "how do you know?" I can prove why it does. Because it's a truth. I don't say, "ask a supernatural being to have you find the answer yourself."
Obviously, I began to move away from the church, but I always thought I would eventually find the answers I'd been seeking. Then, in my early 30's, I read, "God is Not Great." by Christopher Hitchens. I have to admit, I was originally quite offended while reading his book, but at the same time, a lot of what he was saying was making more sense to me than the answers church leaders and family members had been able to provide.
Then, I listened to the audiobook for The God Delusion. I was blown away!!! It makes so much sense now!! People can't provide me with the truthful answer because there wasn't one! For, if they were trying to convince me of the "truth" of following God, then they were lying to me, and would never be able to provide me with a watertight answer.
I still did not have the courage to say that I was atheist at this point. I thought, "it makes sense that there is no god, but how do we explain the world otherwise?"
And that was when I bought "The Greatest Show on Earth." I can still remember, reading your portion showing the differences in bone length of mammals, and a skeletal drawing of a bat. And that was when I'd realized. This "theory" that I'd been ignoring all through my science classes in highschool, because I knew the "real" way that life got here, was in fact the real way life developed to what we see today.
I don't know if I will ever "come out" to my parents. I've decided I won't lie to them, if I'm asked directly. But, if I did tell them, it would destroy them, and I can't bring myself to deliver that kind of pain to them.
But, I also know, I will not raise my 3 boys with any religious influence. And I have to thank you for that, and for freeing me of the guilt of being a "non-practicing Christian."
Sincerely, Tim K