I was raised Catholic and am now an atheist at 25. I am an astronomer, and from my earliest memories I have possessed an incurable curiosity and wonder about this world. Looking back I wonder if I ever really took seriously the tenets of religion; they seemed so contrived and hollow. But for your words I may never have admitted my views to others. However, your books have shown me that a rational, thought-based perspective on the world is not something of which to be ashamed, but a badge of honor. Honor, and responsibility, to promote the seeking of knowledge for its own sake, and to protect curiosity from the easy answers and requisite ignorance of faith.
I began reading The God Delusion after I read Hitchens’ god is Not Great. Though I enjoyed both immensely I must say I prefer yours not only for the wit you use to accompany some of the best arguments I have ever heard against religion and belief in a supernatural god, but also for the methodical, straightforward way you make your arguments, always focused on the heart of the matter and striking home every time. When I hear vitriol and hyperbole from the theist perspective, hatred and intolerance couched in fear and a wish to survive beyond this life, I find it soothing and reassuring to take up your works and find wonder and beauty (dare I say meaning?) in a rational view of the world.
Many I have heard speak in favor of religion (while ignoring the arguments against it) ignorantly view atheism as a hopeless perspective, bereft of wonder, empty of purpose. I counter this view with every fiber of my being, and with evidence brought to us through science. How can it be hopeless to learn as much as we can about the world in which we live without needless fear? How can we fail to find beauty in every new discovery we make simply because we made it and not for some imagined creator behind it? If we accepted the easy and untried answers of religion where would be the discovery? Where would be the wonder? It is an insult and a defiance to our very nature as thinking beings, with learning brains, to accept anything less than the potential of rationality.
To others fearful of religion; you who fear ostracism and prejudice for your rationality. You are indeed not alone. This site is a testament to that fact. Know that you are part of a nobler tradition, a tradition of free thought and discovery. Know also that to think is of itself the most powerful weapon against ignorance. I hope you will never stop. My thoughts, all of our thoughts, are with you.
And know this: they are more afraid of us than we are of them. They fear the unknown. We revel in it.
Cheers to you all,