While I have for my entire life been an eager amateur follower of science, and in the last few years a fascinated observer of the “struggle” of the Theory of Evolution in certain parts of the world, I am a relatively late discoverer of Dawkins.
What a refreshing discovery it has been! Like most others in Convert's Corner, I was a goodly Christian because, well, my parents said so and there was to be no debate. This was despite the fact that at church I was consistently bored and often wondered, as a teenager, what made us so inherently evil and mentally incompetent that the pastor had to keep reminding us every week how to be good to others, caring, and self-confident.
I stopped going to church in my mid/late teens, almost the minute my parents allowed me to make my own decision. Although they were clearly disappointed, our relationship has always been very good. Thereafter I lived publicly either as a “non-practising christian” or an agnostic, simply because the risk of religious argument made it too hard to do anything else. To this day I carefully avoid religious discussion in the family and have become quite adept at changing the topic – it has always been a road to nowhere.
The enlightening point was reading The God Delusion. It was the slap across the face, the shove, the glass of cold water poured over my head, that was needed for me to say “well heck, the reality is that I have no religious belief, nor have I ever felt the need for one”. We all know what that makes me. Am I allowed to say that “dirty word” without feeling that I should turn myself in to the authorities, or book an appointment with the psychiatrist? I am, in fact, an atheist.