since Douglas Adams died, on 11 May 2001.
A lot of people ask me "why" I am an Atheist, and pretty much the reason can be summed up in the two words "Douglas Adams". A uniquely comic and thoughtful technology geek, Adams wrote the hugely successful "Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy".
But beyond the comedy and brilliant writing he was a self-described "radical atheist". For me his seminal work was posthumous, the collection of his works I was lent (and I think still have :)) by my Uncle, "The Salmon of Doubt".
It collects all of Adam's thoughts on life, technology and religion; in his words - "I love to keep poking and prodding at it. I’ve thought about it so much over the years that that fascination is bound to spill over into my writing." A lot of what he said synced with my world view at that time, and so agnosticism became atheism.
His acceptance of the beliefs of others also stunned me. So many atheists are dismissive, arrogant or ignorant of what other people believe, but Adams seemed to happily nod his head at everything. Sure, if you asked to be queried he hammered you with the hard questions, but if you were happy with what you believed... good for you. We can learn a lot from this attitude.
Many people don't "get" Adams' comedy, but it is the kind of light-hearted irreverent humour that always sets me laughing. Sure, his Hitchikers books largely make no sense; but they contain that uniquely English combination of Tea, Cricket and Wit.
Often I wish he was still alive, just to drop an email too on the off-chance he might be amused enough to respond. A great mind, and much missed evn by those who never had the privilege of knowing him.
Time to read the Hitchikers series again I think :)