The important part
I had to reply to this thread. I love how this novel has become such a controversy.
I am an atheist. Possibly a conflicted atheist as I see a great benefit in faith (not organized religion) despite the existance of god not being a reality to me. I think it can help people obviously, and some people just need to have a purpose and they receive that from their faith. Maybe that is an oversimplified view of it.
In any event, I think the greatest benefit that people are receiving from the book is the ability to question their faith and realize that without the knowledge that what they believe MIGHT NOT be true, their faith graduates in value. In the alternative, if the foundation of what you believe can be shaken by a work of fiction - your faith was not true in the first place. But then again, you were introduced to your faith by a work of fiction.
Yeah. I think I talked myself in a circle. Either way - fantastic read.