Dear Professor Dawkins,
I asked my wife for two books for Christmas, your “The God Delusion” and the late Christopher [an ironic misnomer] Hitchens’s “God is Not Great.” I read both over the Christmas & New Year break. Their logic and clarity, in different individual styles, was convincing in the sense that hot mustard is tasty. I am now totally convinced that God is just Santa Claus for grown-ups. And grown ups can do far more harm with their delusions than imaginative children.
For decades – I’m 55 – what had convinced me of the existence of God was the continued presence – especially in England through 300 years of persecution, roughly contemporaneous with slavery in the Americas – of the Catholic Church. How could all the secular institutions of Rome have passed away centuries ago yet the Church remain, throughout the known world, despite the failings and often obscenely criminal activities of its staff? My answer was: because it was not a human institution but a divine one. The two books convinced me that the whole pack of cards was built upon world-class spin-doctory, the longing of many adult humans for a grown-up comfort blanket and the cynical exploitation of the many by the canny few (“As soon as the coin in the bucket rings, the soul to heaven springs” – it sounds better in German.)
I particularly liked the argument against, in both books, of “belief in belief”, the faith-free attitude that encourages belief in ordinary folk because it’s good for them and /or keeps them compliant. You were quite right recently to appeal to the UK Prime Minister to come clean on this: it is to his discredit that he reacted as he did by praising “traditional Christian values.” Moral behaviour has nothing to do with religious magic or any deity.
My conversion is 50% of a result for your book I think, but I’m sure you won’t mind sharing.
Roger Abbiss, Lancashire, England.