I am an actress who has been a regular churchgoer and professed Christian for most of my life. I was brought up in the Church and went through confirmation, weddings etc blissfully and happily claiming to be a believer. As your wife said to you about going to school, I didn’t realise that I had a choice.
Thanks to a few very important influences over the last year – not least my 13 year old son who spectacularly announced one Sunday morning that he wasn’t coming with me to Church as he was a scientist and didn’t believe in God! – I have started to look again at my beliefs and really question the existence of God and the influence of religion as a whole on my life.
I read The God Delusion and was entranced my much of it – my blinkers were removed and I could start to see the world as it really is. I have to state at this point that I am not so shallow a person that I have overnight thrown out all my upbringing and beliefs having read one book. Actually there was much that I disagreed with you about – but not perhaps the most common themes of disagreement. Quite the opposite, many of the views that I have held privately: there is no afterlife, prayer doesn’t work, sex is actually quite a special and fabulous thing etc, came into sharp focus reading The GD.
Whether I agree or disagree with every point in your book is sort of irrelevant. The fact is that I now feel as though the restrictions to my personal convictions have been removed. I can read what I like, see what I like at the cinema (my mother for years prevented me from seeing The Life of Brian – it was a guilty secret when I did go!) and question faith. That is perhaps the most important thing. I can question faith! How amazing and liberating is that? I am not in any way academic, I trained as an actress (I understand your wife is an actress which obviously was of great interest to me) and I am definitely a ‘doing’ actress rather than a ‘thinking’ one. That means that some of the more technical biological and philosophical ideas do have a habit of whooshing over my blonde head, however, I am now engrossed in your book The Greatest Show on Earth and I may even take a peek at The Origin of Species (free on my Kindle, you understand!).
I don’t know whether I will become an Atheist, a Teapot Agnostic or even return to Christianity. At the moment I am like a child making discoveries and I’m loving it – Thank you. Thank you for giving me the choice.
I think the most wonderful part of The God Delusion was your description of our life on earth as a timeline with the red line moving along. Before the line, we were not here and after the line we have gone. But for the time when we are in the line that is when we are in the spotlight. As an actress you might expect me to love that analogy! It really is lovely to think of a big spotlight right on me – and I’m going to start treasuring every moment.
With best wishes