THE GOD DELUSION puts into words the 'revelation' I had at age eleven. Precocious? Not really.
From age three to age ten I spent most of my life in Roman Catholic institutions and boarding schools. I was nine years old when atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. The nuns rejoiced and we were given jelly and custard for lunch to celebrate. I was very worried about the rejoicing at a whole city, and by logical extension, its citizens, being burned in a conflagration like the fires of hell (as we were given to understand). When I voiced my worries I was told not to be 'bold' and that the Japanese weren't Catholics or even Christians. Many other issues of belief also concerned me, eg why did god make some children ugly like me; why did he make germs, or fleas or poisonous plants?.
By age eleven I was in a state school but attended compulsory RC 'scripture' class. The issue of destruction of human life vis a vis church teachings about 'love' and 'shepherding' still worried me. Again I asked why Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been bombed. I had read in a newspaper that Japan was on the brink of surrender before the atomic holocaust. I was punished for showing doubt. At this stage I still believed in god and Jesus.
One day I was walking home from school when suddenly I stopped in my tracks. Of course! There was only one answer! There was no god. People made him up because they were scared about not understanding things. In war they had to believe god was on their side because otherwise they'd know themselves as murderers. But if they just admitted they didn't understand instead of making up lies then they might get to understand one day.
As time passed I became more and more aware of fear of the unknown or/and fear of one's own mortality as the basis of religion and priestly power. I have never wavered in my atheism and have always been open about it. It has enabled me to appreciate the natural world and my place in it. It has made clear my responsibility for myself and the world I live in.
But THE GOD DELUSION has given me a wonderful tool in helping still-wavering friends to finally rid themselves of the shackles of lies they no longer truly believe. Thankyou, Richard Dawkins.
Anneliese Stricker, Australia.