Dear Professor Dawkins,
I am not a scientist and was once a christian (but saw the light of atheism a long time ago). I read the God Delusion and was amazed at the clarity with which you explained religion and it's place in the minds, actions and politics of society. I have just watched The Root Of All Evil – and whilst I agree with your thoughts on the destructive powers of indoctrinating children into religious philosophies and the misinformation propagated by religious leaders under the guise of tradition and moral rights etc — I was left thinking that in evolutionary terms (and this is where I'd like you to enlighten me) — if the human race is to develop itself beyond these narrow thinking, science-bashing philosophies in the future — religion and it's many inadequacies must have to have existed and have been a part of humanity in order for us to know where we should have improved and amended our thinking. If religion never existed — how can humanity conquer the irrationality of it and become a mutually beneficial species based on factual and evidential data and our genetic programming accociated with morality. If the dinosaurs had never existed — then neither would we. Surely the same goes for the shortsightedness and bigoted traditions of religion — One day there will be no religion but only because it existed in the first place and showed us what not to believe and provided us with the challenge of making a new world. Cause and effect? No? – Without religion there can be no athiests. So what i'm really saying is that your critism of relgion, whilst reasoned and agreeable, is a critism of social evolution as well – is not relgion and it's emphasis on social good not a manifestaion of the selfish gene on another branch? Relgious societies seek to look after their own and provide protection for it's members from potential risks from outside their 'gene (or philosophical) pool'. Is religion not a natural consequence of human evolution – surely the fact that it exists at all means it is?