I have just finished reading ‘The God Delusion’ and felt compelled to write to you to let you know how much of an impact it has had on my thinking.
I am a gay man, brought up to Irish Catholic parents. My mother was a wonderful, kind-hearted woman from the country, and my father was a very well-intentioned, but highly religious man(iac). Having practically abandoned any kind of actual religious belief long ago, I still felt a distant affection for the rituals of the church, along with residual guilt-resonance whenever I did anything un-catholic (sex, usually).
I now feel quite happy to say categorically that I am an atheist. I will still happily sing church music (I was a choral scholar and lay clerk at Oxford at around the time you wrote the book) but will appreciate it for its artistic value, without attaching any mystical meaning to it.
I’m currently sat in a cafe in Nepal, having just finished the final chapter. I am very taken by your passion for science and your explanations of the alternative ways of perceiving quantum theory. This jogged a long-forgotten memory of applying to be a choral scholar, as one of the stages of the process, I was required to have an interview with the then Chaplain. We were required to write a short statement explaining how we would uphold the Christian values associated with being a choral scholar. As an enthusiastic teenager fresh from a Physics A Level I waxed lyrical about the wonder of the natural world and included something about how quantum physics might better help us to understand the nature of God. I remember vividly the chaplain taking me to task on this, taking me down a peg or three, suggesting that I had no idea what I was talking about and that I shouldn’t even make such stupidly ill-informed suggestions. I was thoroughly deflated by the encounter, but I now realise that perhaps I had hit a raw nerve. It is also possible that he was just an arsehole.
In any case, I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you. I have never written to an author after reading one of their books, but felt the need to do so today. It’s always nice for us to hear that our work has a positive impact on people, so I just wanted to let you know that I’ll buy you lots of drinks if our paths ever cross.