Dear Professor Dawkins,
It was in 2007, in a Sainsbury’s book isle that I first spotted ‘The God Delusion’, having never heard of you or the book before (I hasten to add that I’m Australian and was doing my obligatory London jaunt). I bought the book, began to read it, and began to feel uncomfortable as every argument for the existence of God was politely torn to shreds in front of me.
At the time I was no believer in the Christian God, but still hankered after a lot of breezy, new-age spiritualism (pantheistic stuff – God being energy, being a force in the universe, etc.). Nevertheless I pushed on with my reading. Then, a month later and about half way through the book, my father died suddenly at our home. Crippled with grief, I simply couldn’t open that harsh book of yours again.
But something happened during all the mourning, right there at the funeral no less. Faced with the urgency of life, I simply couldn’t bring myself to accept an ancient fairytale about my father being in a better place now. The promise of eternal life seemed exposed for what it was; a product of human fear and ignorance. I eventually returned to London and reopened The God Delusion, before moving on to books about evolution.
In all, I would say that my grief was a journey into adulthood. I threw off the facile and narcissistic world view with which I was so smitten, and accepted that nature owes me nothing. I grew up, and The God Delusion was a nudge in the right direction. Well, more of a shove. For that I have you to thank. Thank you.