I want to thank you for the work you are doing. Though I've only read half of it so far, “The God Delusion” been a great source of epiphany and consolation from the moment I began with the preface to the paperback edition. I am only halfway through as yet, and I've found myself thoroughly delighted, amused, and awed by your lucid, logical, and brutally honest treatment of religion, faith, and life. (It is a personal goal of mine to memorize perfectly the opening passage of chapter 2 to present to the peddlers of religion that occasionally don't settle for my announcement that the premises are “Pagan and Atheist, thank you but no thanks.”)
I was raised (read “indoctrinated”) as a Roman Catholic in a more or less deeply religious family. Being one of 6 children, our father the oldest of 9 (and his father the oldest of 13), it seemed there was little refuge from the religion of my very extensive, very religious family.
Through my adolescence I meandered slowly and with little direction up the long hill to enlightenment, and far too often, back down into the cloud of mysticism. I always seemed to wander back down to “belief without reason” when something big happened (my marriage, births and deaths in the family, etc.), and then all hell broke loose here in the greater Boston Archdiocese.
I can say with absolute conviction that I did not become an atheist simply out of protest to the pedophilia running rampant in the Church I was raised in. The true catalyst was the birth of my first child. While my wife and I did initially begin passing down the poison of indoctrination, we realized early on that our child was the most precious and solemn responsibility we could possibly have undertaken, and decided to proceed from a more intellectual position.
Thus began my own search. Not for the one true religion, but for the Truth. By simple reason, I decided that if there was one true religion, it must be the Truth, and only by searching for this Truth would I understand anything worthwhile.
So my mantra became this: “If you can't question your beliefs, you have the wrong beliefs!”
Eventually I realized I couldn't possibly say with a straight face that I actually believed in a supreme creator. This was the only position from which I could question without wincing at the moral and intellectual gymnastics required of my sense of integrity. The problem I still faced was to find an intelligent basis for confirming or, if I'm honest, denying my belief. I had begun habitually questioning my beliefs as part of my own search, and I couldn't honestly stop this practice just by saying I no longer “believe”.
And so, I thank you profoundly for offering up the simple logic I was looking for – the light of reason I needed to continue finding my way up the long slow rise to understanding, and to avoid sliding back down into superstition and mysticism ever again. I have now explicitly “come out” to my immediate family – siblings and parents, and while I honestly try to avoid insulting others (too much), I openly and gladly declare myself to be an unapologetic atheist to whoever wishes to know. And perhaps a few that don't.
Finally, I want to tell you that the opening passage to your book “Unweaving The Rainbow” are the most awe inspiring and consciousness raising words I've ever heard. This has been moved to the top of my book list, and I cannot wait to read it.
Once again, I applaud your unflinching pursuit of honesty and truth.
With very best regards,