Dear Dr. Dawkins,
There is no point in trying to figure out when I “knew” I was an atheist. Maybe the burning bush or some Mosaic fantasy? Could it have been my Baptist mother's vacant stare for hours after church? Thankfully, I no longer dwell upon such irrelevancies.
Writers such as David Deutsch, Douglas Hofstadter, Charles Darwin, John Gribbon, Daniel Dennet, Steven Pinker and many others have all tackled complex problems and laid out concise answers to burning questions that no scripture could ever do. Your own work “The Ancestor's Tale” being an uncompromising labour of love. Then along comes The God Delusion, sparkling with science and philosophy but on a more sweeping scope. At first I was actually taken aback by it's provocative cover- it's double-take causing, blink-inducing silver dust jacket nearly prevented me from buying it! Never you mind the title. Thank goodness for my curiosity, though, for midway though the first chapter the realisation of something important was unfolding. I even began taking it to my local coffee shop with the dust jacket on.
As others do, for ease of later research, I often make notes during reading books. I was left with only three bothersome issues after finishing this book, one of which, I think was just a typo. The other two minor issues are not even worth remembering because…IN CONTRAST, after finishing only Genesis, I needed a whole new notebook for reading thereafter. I wrote scores of notes. The Bible simply does not add up. The Koran, in all it's unimaginably depressive tedium was as inconsistent. Never mind these book's inconsistencies, I was near sick of all the murderous deeds and contempt displayed by most of the characters within them.
Your book does a fine job of explaining to fellow humans that we should not look to morally bankrupt books of near-certainly fictitious origin to tell us how to act. The Bible's few attempts at instructing us how to live morally could easily be re-written by any secularly raised 13 year old as a homework assignment. To say all the Bible needs to say, one could do so in a note no longer than this email. Of course we could then hyper-simplify the seemingly plagiaristic Koran by penning (in complete) “For inspiration and guidance, please consult the Bible” and close with “Allah Akbar! Amin” for fun. Think of all the frigging paper we'd save. Perfect mantra for busy westerners longing for something to feel “spiritual” about while trudging off to yoga class.
The God Delusion is not scripture, it does not tell anyone how to live. It is a more like a big, rude push in the right direction. I am certain that a majority of religious believers will not read this book. A few may, and of those few, a few more will leave it at the coffee shop without finishing chapter 1. A very few god-fearers may finish it and perhaps join the ranks of those who write nasty, homicidal letters to the author. Fewer still may feel some hair-raising, face-tingling spark- some blankish, empty gut feeling. This is OK! Read on my fellow human and face that scary feeling deep within you. It is the first physical/emotional response you should feel. You will feel better and better as the days of your emancipation come and go. It will not be easy but you will soon feel fantastic. This book should also be of great help to any atheists, fence-sitting non-believers, or disheartened religious malcontents who have not the courage to say, if prompted, “I am an atheist…” and it points to other equally exciting volumes which will give said emancipated humans the balls/tools needed to finish with “…and here is why…”
The existence of god is a probability that is so vanishingly small in the possible design-space available, that for all that matters, she does not exist; to paraphrase Dennet. The majority of humans are themselves perfectly capable of understanding this obvious conclusion and yet they do not. Thank you for this book- The God Delusion will do it's part quite well in helping an enlightened minority make the case to the deluded majority that they could help themselves greatly just by making a small investment of their time and having a read…
So I thank you Mr. Dawkins; you may have missed out on the opportunity to convert me but you have left me with motivation to answer (out loud) to anyone who confronts me with questions of faith. You have provided the enlightened with another tool to help build a reasonable and just model for the world. May the batteries in your death-bed tape recorder never be drained.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada