Over the last several years I have been "converting" from a once very strong evangelical faith to atheism. It was a long road and involved many different facets, one of which was a steady tide of atheist reason and thought I received online. And my main source, well none other then you, Dr. Myers. My first movement towards rationality came when I started researching evolution and what do you know, it was true. While I was still an evangelical, I started tracking the creation and evolution controversy, which often through a link landed me on you blog as you are very prominent in the discussion. I would read a post about evolution and learn something new and then stay awhile and read another post hear or there and cringe and you tore into my religion. I was threatened by you, most prominently because I often had no good answers for your criticisms. I won't write out my entire deconversion story but I'll summarize you're role in that over the last several years I have spent more and more time on your site, reading and thinking. You are now the only blog I follow and I read everything your write. I write this note as encouragement that your persistent defense of rationality and reason does make a difference.
It got me thinking about "deconversion". You see I was always an atheist and never had to be deconverted from religion. I was sent to Sunday School at the age of four and never believed anything they told me. Sure, I was as excited as all the other kids when I heard that Moses parted the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape from Egypt - but I always "knew" that it wasn't a true story; just another fairytale like Hansel and Gretel. The only thing that puzzled me - Why did the teacher tell the story as if she believed it? Surely she wasn't that stupid?
And I'm equally puzzled when religious people (like the person who emailed P.Z. Myers) have to first discover that science in general (and evolution in particular) is true before they can throw off the shackles of religion. Why do they feel they have to have an explanation for life on earth (or anything else for that matter) before the religious explanation can be discarded. Surely any adult living in the 21st century can look at any of the bible stories and realise that there is not a skerrick of proof for any of them: Talking snakes, burning bushes that talk, virgin births, Jesus walked on water - it's all so unbelievable.
My scientific knowledge is practically zero and what I know about evolution could be written on the back of an envelope, yet that lack of knowledge doesn't prevent me from recognising the mythical nature of religious stories, and it surprises me when others can't do the same.
Do you believe that God exists? No.
So how did life get started on Earth? I don't know!
Where's the problem? Why do so many people think that God cannot be discarded until the Theory of Evolution has been taken on board?
I'm not saying people shouldn't take an interest in evolution (and science in general), but the two things are not mutually exclusive. It is not an either/or situation - either believe in God or accept evolution. I am living proof that that is not the case. And think of the millions of atheists who lived before 1859 when Darwin published his theory for the first time. Not one of those earlier atheists knew a thing about evolution, yet they were still atheists.