Dear Dr. Dawkins:
I would like to stand up and be counted as one who is joining the thousands of people who are tired of having religion imposed upon them against their will. I am proud to be a part of this revolution.
I grew up in a Roman Catholic family. My parents were immigrants from Asia and Europe, and felt that a Roman Catholic upbringing was important for their children. I never missed a mass until my college years. At the same time, I always viewed myself as a scientist, and went on to medical school (I am a specialist here in the United States).
Two things have led to where I am now with regards to religion. One is the acquisition of knowledge. Specifically, knowledge of other peoples and other cultures (something that is a shortcoming for many Americans). How can anyone believe that their faith is the “correct one,” while billions of people of other faiths are “wrong”? If one were to simply read some history of religion and the world in general, they would see that their faith is the faith du jour for the area in which they were born (as you have pointed out in your works). For most, we take on the religion of our parents.
Secondly, working in hospitals for years, I've seen how bad things happen to good people. I'm sure you are aware of a scientific study done on prayer. One group of patients was prayed for, and one group of patients was not (neither group knew if prayers were being said for them, and so this was a single-blinded study). Of no surprise, the prayed-for group did no better with their illness (and in fact, did slightly worse).
In closing, I do not need the promise of a heaven or the threat of a hell to do what is right, and I certainly do not need anyone else telling me what is right and what is wrong.
Thank you for letting me share my experience and opinions.
A former Catholic and current physician in the United States