Dear Mr Dawkins
Since atheism is a belief system, I assume one can be an atheist, whether or not Gods actually exist, just as one can be a believer in Gods, without the need for evidence.
Peaceful co-existence is possible, with or without discussion between these polarised positions, provided that respect, tolerance and compassion are what inform relationships between them.
It is in the interpretation of given laws – natural or Belief-based – which are my areas of concern. Whether I am abused, exploited or murdered according to the rules of Belief or scientific reason is a fine distinction which I can’t see affecting the pain of my suffering.
It may be for cultural, genetic or other reasons that many people seem to build a fairly fixed concept of reality and self, from which to move is perceived or sub-consciously reacted to as threatening their survival. Hence, they adopt, or react against, and create alternatives to, the set of rules to which they are exposed as they grow. Discussion of the validity of their position is then a threat.
It does not matter to me, whether everything was created by a white man with a long beard, a big firework display, a peacock with a banana, or has always existed. What I believe fundamentally important is how we treat each other while we are on life’s journey i.e. hopefully with respect, tolerance and compassion. It is through the absence of such attitudes and behaviour that religions, as interpreted and practiced by sociopaths, psychopaths and other mentally afflicted people have created large followings to assist in creating, maintaining and furthering conflict in the World.
However, it does provide plenty of material for songwriters like me!
I wish you well on your journey in helping to bring these issues to light and keeping discussion alive – and lively.