Dan this post is scarily close to one I’ve been contemplating for a while. I’m getting back into reading a lot of science texts. For example I’ve just today started reading ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ by Richard Dawkins a fervent atheist and darwinist. This has partly arisen out of boredom with endless tedious debates about art/music and partly out of feelings similar to those you discuss at the end of your post which are mirrored in this quote from dawkins:
“Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let’s now stop being so damned respectful!”
All to often i find myself listening to dear friends talk of their religious views and my face glazes over a little into a kind of unsettled politeness that I’d also employ when the crazy guy on the bus tells you what he’s got in his paper bag. Like you I concluded for myself at a relatively early age that God was impossible and ever since have felt bemusement at highly intelligent people who also have religious faith. I’m not going say much more because, as i said, I was idly planning to write a little on this myself but, for now, good work & good post.