Dear Prof. Dawkins,
Practically everything I’ve ever known, or found plausible, is incompatible with the idea of a personal, humanoid, Earth-obsessed deity. If atheism held no comfort whatsoever, I would be stuck with it nonetheless…just like I’m stuck with not expecting an afterlife, or with the fact that, in my lifetime, I’ll never learn the answers to many of the biggest questions.
Luckily I’ve always been perfectly comfortable with being a tiny piece of a big universe. I’ve also despised the Christian perspective since elementary school. Wishful thinking is probably forgivable in most people, but wishing for THAT sort of supremacy blows my mind. I agree that it’s wrong to presumptuously label children, but I was a pint-sized anti-theist. How could anybody WANT that sort of world so badly as to lie for it? What is bad about being an animal? Or about the universe being massive? I still don’t get it.
These days I’m studying geology and palaeontology, and greatly enjoying watching religious behinds get chewed by “aggressive atheists”. (This kind of outspoken atheism IS new to me, and I’m very grateful to the pair of Jehovah’s Nutcrackers who pushed me over the edge and made me seek it out!)
In short, you should have nothing to teach me about the beauty of being part of nature.
Nevertheless, I often find substantial comfort or inspiration in your way of expressing things when I’m struggling with depression (the latter was caused by recent events, not by atheism).
Especially your demonstration of a tiny spot of light on an enormous time scale (from one of the Christmas Lectures) sticks in my mind, and so does the reminder of the nearly impossible odds of being born. I keep coming back to these thoughts. And mistrustful though I am of “inspiration” in the self-help-pamphlet age, it actually helps. It really is hard to feel sick of things when there is so much universe and so little time to appreciate it in.
Your writings on these subjects are up there with Carl Sagan’s in my opinion. Godheads have called it “cold scientism” (how they manage to miss the beauty, I don’t know), but to me it’s bracing and reviving at the very least.
P.S.: Thank you too for writing a children’s book. The world of wonder, or the world of the tabloid press – what a gift any nudge in the right direction could be, when so much is at stake!