Dear Sir Richard:
I've been “Non-Religious” for the past 14 years and bought the God Delusion in Feb 2010. Shortly thereafter, my mother passed away and I started reading the book a few weeks later. Although I have not completed the book I wanted to comment now.
While reading the 4th chapter, I felt the need to ask myself – are you an Atheist?
I was brought up as a Baptist, but in my teenager years, my religiousness started to dim as I learned more about history. I believed in God, as you have pointed out, because children will uphold their Parents (in my case Grandmother's) beliefs. However, I started to question the validity of “the religion” and as a young adult, I first read the Phrase “Biblical Mythology”. I was a little shocked and thought “is the author saying what I think they are saying”? That was the beginnings of my transition from religious belief to spiritual belief (belief in god, not religion). As the years went by, the initial shock of hearing the term “Biblical Mythology” completely disappeared as I learned that the stories/parables we are taught to believe in, are present in so many other cultures. The various versions contain a similar theme: Virgin Birth, Resurrection, Apocalypse etc. My favorite is Moses’, who was raised in Pharaoh’s house, led his people out of slavery & was given 10 commandments by God OR are they a Version of the Maat, which was written at least two millennium before Moses was born.
As the years passed, I didn't feel the need to go searching for spirituality as so may of us who question our Parent's Religion. However, I was familiar with all of the “new age Guru's”, courtesy of my mother, and even read the Conversations with God books (1 & 2). The 1st book brought about a change in my thinking. Not from the new age sense of “think yourself rich” And “Find your soul mate”, but from a “you are responsible for certain aspects of the current state in your life”. By growing up a Baptist, I felt that saying that “the Devil is busy” or “I'm going to put this in God's hands”, dismisses or excuses our personal responsibility, just like a child. Also, I have learned to accept Religious thinking (to each is own) and I won't go into detail regarding my “Non-Religious” encounters with Religious individuals. Saying you do not believe in Religion, (which has been my occasional response) is just as bad as saying your an Atheist because “the bible says this is what god is”. However, I will say that I have had to emphasize the need for tolerance as they seem to forget the history of America’s founding.
So from considering the various aspects of my experiences, at Chapt 4 I had to ask myself, are you an atheist? I was able to answer without any reservations – 99%.
Like many of us, with all of the suffering, bloodshed, war, hunger etc. I want to believe that there is something better that this physical life (1%). However, my feelings (fear), that there should be something better than this life, DO NOT mean that our souls will live on forever and that there is a GOD. Just because you believe something, based on a Book, teachings/interpretations from Parents, Pastors etc. DOES NOT mean that it is True (or False). I don’t include scientific interpretations/observation because science considers many aspects, not just a book/teaching/belief (99%).
My Religious Pet peeve – the Modern day missionaries in Underdeveloped nations. Instead of the Sword in one hand, it's the School, Hospital, or Road in one hand, with the Bible in the other…. It's like scratching your nails against a chalk board.