May I start by saying I have never felt the urge to write to any of my favourite authors or sportsmen or call into a radio show to express my opinion. So it comes as a great surprise that I am doing this to a person who has generated so much thought, interest and dare I admit, excitement (if that is the correct word) just from reading two of your books (one and a half actually, as I am half way through ‘The Greatest Show on Earth).
I am a 31 year old male from a mildly religious Christian background. (In your very correct words, I am a child of Christian parents!) My Grandmother was Italian and a strict Catholic. My parents never forced any religion on me but from a young age I was in the Cub Scout movement and we were encouraged to attend various services and educated into the thought of a Christian way of life, whatever that means.
I am no means what I would call an intellectual. I didn’t finish my A level education as I wished to enter the workplace, so I consider myself an average, run of the mill human being. Around 4 years ago I saw a copy of ‘The God Delusion’ staring back at me in a bookshop and the title itself summed up my feeling on religion.
In the past, I have wondered how so many well educated people can actually be ‘fooled’ into believing the delusion in all of its forms and guises. The book eloquently didn’t deride any faiths but set out a meaningful objection and in some cases passionate reasoning as why religion and faith are flawed. I remember thinking that this is the kind of thing that should be taught in schools alongside religious education. For years I felt unable to have a logical discussion with my parents, teachers and Grandparents on how believing in Santa Claus was for children but belief in God was what ‘we just do’. The thought of me raising any children and the establishment that I grew up in forcing certain beliefs on them before they are old enough to decide themselves is terrifying, yet goes on every day.
I have found over the years that atheists like myself just can’t be bothered in the age old arguments that crop up in any discussion so just carry on living their lives, experiencing the awe and wonder of the universe, the earth and everything in it. After your dedication to Douglas Adams, I read his entire series of Hitchhiker novels and laughed aloud at the religious connotations while marvelling at the fictional wonder of his created universe (if only God had a sense of humour like that!)
‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ is proving to educate me even further on areas I have never been interested in. Explaining examples of evolution and biology and, in layman’s terms, getting the point across that the evidence for evolution is there to be seen by our own very eyes, should we just open them and look straight at it.
The point of this email is to thank you for helping me not only finalise my beliefs (or non beliefs) but for opening my eyes and making me realise it is the right thing to question, to wonder and most of all to enjoy what we have in this life and not pander to any mythical beings that say we must do this and that. I only wish my family and friends would read your work as I am dying to discuss it with them. I will move on to your earlier books when I have finished this one.
Keep up the good work! (One more converted)