Dear Dr Dawkins,
Following an interesting conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness, I realised that I didn’t truly know where I stood on my faith. Now I attend a Methodist public school in England (Queen’s College in Taunton, actually), which, don’t get me wrong, is a good school, I enjoy it; I just don’t enjoy the services in which I wouldn’t be far wrong to say that Methodism is effectively forced upon us. Following this doorstep conversation with which I am sure we are all familiar with, I started scrutinising these services more and more, realising how ridiculous a lot of it actually sounded. Once the deputy headmaster (ironically a Baptist) actually tried to relate a wasp to Jesus.
Anyway, shortly after this I bought The God Delusion, thinking it could help me with my decision on my faith. I enjoyed reading it, particularly the part where you describe the origin and development of religion through a form of natural selection. I must admit I had never heard of the concept of a meme, but I found that it made perfect sense. I also found fascinating your definitions of varying beliefs, as well as your definitive classification of agnosticism.
Herein lies my problem. I can’t remember the exact wording in your book, seeing as I don’t have it at the moment, but I think you said that agnosticism doesn’t really exist, for various reasons. Well, I would like to offer my situation for you consideration. As you may or may not have guessed, I am a scientist by nature: my mind endeavours to understand as much of the world around me as possible. As a scientist, therefore, I believe the theories that have the strongest evidence supporting them; following this, I believe in Darwinian evolution, and I also believe in the Big Bang theory and its description of the evolution of the universe. The one problem I have comes in the form of the cosmological argument. What caused the Big Bang? My physics teachers say it is due to random quantum fluctuations in the density of the primeval atom, but what caused these differences?
I feel I am an atheist, inasmuch as I don’t live my life according to any religion, and I don’t believe in any supernatural being. My problem is this subconscious doubt in my mind about the origin of the universe. I put it to you, therefore, that I am an agnostic by lack of evidence. If someone can prove to me empirically that no supernatural being had any hand in the beginning of the universe, then I will accept that readily.
I don’t suppose you can offer any insight into this matter?
Once again, thank you for The God Delusion, it opened my eyes to atheism.