First of all, your book, The God Delusion, is simply sublime. It was so compelling that I had to read it a second time immediately upon complettion of it the first time.
I have recently taken a Philosophy of Religion course, and encountered all of the silly arguments that you expose as such in your books. How I wish I could have read it before the class! You articulate that which I felt but could not explain with my limited exposure to atheist thought. All of this being said, I write to you now because I have serious questions for you even after reading your book. I do not necessarily expect a response, but it would be greatly appreciated nevertheless.
1. As for my background, I consider myself a Jewish atheist (Jewish culture is engrained in me, and I had a bar mitzvah but don’t believe in its religious teachings) I try to convince others to be atheists, for many reasons outlined in your books, papers, and lectures. With 100% of my rational being, I am a monist and believe in NOTHING outside of the physical world. My question is this: Why even though I think in this way, why do my feelings not allow me to internally commit to atheism? Before reading The God Delusion I considered myself an atheist leaning agnostic, but your logic and theories of improbability have bolstered my atheist convictions. However, in the spirit of a quasi-“Pascal’s wager”, I find myself feeling apologetic for not believing in an entity who I admittedly believe is as real as the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. To sum up: why (in an evolutionary sense) can I not reconcile my base emotions of loyalty to God with my rational monistic understanding of the universe? It is powerful, and I believe that if anybody knows this answer, it is you.
2. The St. Thomas cosmological argument is clearly faulty. However, this is the type of argument that I could tell is silly but was unable to articulate why during the course of my Philosophy of Religion class. You address the problem of terminating an infinite regress with God, saying that it does not necessarily follow that God must be the terminator of that regress. Then you go on to use the example of chopping a piece of meat in half over and over again until we arrive at an indivisible molecule of meat, where to divide such a piece would be to create something that is not meat. However, this example just raises my awareness of the impossibility of infinite regress, and in turn, heightens my interest in what sort of thing could even potentially be the terminator of the regression going back to the beginning of time. Obviously, this is not a novel question, but I feel your answer to it was either beyond my ability to recognize it or insufficient. My question, though, is not what specifically is the terminator of such a regress, but instead what sort of thing could be the terminator? The big bang does not suffice; this much is clear. To say that this singularity (which contained all of the matter and anti-matter in the universe) could exist forever is not an answer, but rather the absence of an answer. I don’t expect you to have intimate knowledge of the origin of the universe (or multiverse), but how can we reconcile the problem of infinite regress without invoking God, or simply denying that it was God who is the terminator?
Regardless of whether or not you answer these questions, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. You have given words to my beliefs (or lack thereof) and laid the foundation for solidarity among atheists. The Christian right in America, which is my beloved home, terrify me, and your book has given my fears even more justification. The current war on terror and the recent events with the Israeli commando attack on the Turkish humanitarian freighter en route to Gaza go hand in hand with such religious divisiveness. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this. Your work is a large step in the right direction for world peace and prosperity and the raising up of the human race as a whole. I love you as much as a heterosexual man can love another man whom he has never met. Keep up the good work.
P.S. I know you said it in jest, but PLEASE don’t sell out for a Templeton Prize or during a death bed confession! You’d make me look like a real jerk (or more of a jerk, I should say) to all the people I have tried to convert, citing your arguments as the foundation of mine.