All religions have come to us through hearsay. Everyone is talking about the god who is there, but where ?  No one knows what it is, where it is, how it is or why it is, but they talk about it just the same, as if they knew.

No one ever experiences god personally. We listen to other people talk about it and read books ; other people tell us what to believe, they interpret our subjective feelings as "god", but we can never know for sure, because god is hidden.

Nonbelievers are expected to accept hearsay as valid evidence for god. That is how god ( if at all he exists) wants us to know about him. He won't come directly to us; he sends his messengers as mouthpieces, and his holy books as instructions, whether it is the old testament, new testament(Bible), Koran, or in our own Hinduism : the Upanishads, Vedas and Brahmasutras for the philosophically inclined, and Ramayana, Mahabharata for the dim - witted. When we question believers, we realize that they know nothing beyond what they have been told by someone else or read in a book, written by men !

I am often reminded of the story of the " Emperor's new clothes " by Hans Christian Anderson. If you have read it in your childhood, you may recall that the emperor commissioned two scoundrels to make him a set of new clothes from the finest fabric in the world, invisible to ignorant and stupid people. When the emperor found he couldn't see the cloth, he knew he had to keep his ignorance secret. He then paraded his new outfit in front of the populace, confident that only stupid people would think he was naked. All the people admired his clothes so no one would think they were dumb. But a small boy, as children are more honest and forthright, stood in front of the throng and declared," The emperor is naked !". The boy was scolded, but gradually everyone began to agree that the emperor was indeed naked. The emperor, too embarrassed to admit the truth (that he had been swindled), continued on his merry naked way !

Atheists are like the honest boy who didn't understand why everyone was claiming that there are clothes when no clothes could be seen. The adults didn't appreciate his honesty because it forced them to question their willingness to believe. Atheists don't want to pretend we see things that are not there just to keep believers from feeling threatened.

I can't help that I don't believe what the religious people believe. I can't help that I have come to think of their religion as a lie. I think they are wrong, just as they think I am. They believe their position is correct as strongly as I believe mine is. Our only options are hatred and intolerance or love and acceptance.

I don't think that the religious people are stupid, as I have been accused by some, behind my back. I only think that they are credulous and gullible -- willing to believe more easily than I am. I am more skeptical. I don't know why; I just am. That doesn't mean there is something wrong with me or that I am bad. It also doesn't mean that I am better than the believers, or even that they are superior to me.  We are just different. That's it, we are just different.

Yet. There is a lurking suspicion in my mind that I may be more accurate about the truth than them!

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Comment by V.N.K.Kumar on December 11, 2015 at 4:52pm

JD: Thanks for your beautiful comments. It almost made me cry. But I liked the optimism at the end.

Comment by Joan Denoo on December 11, 2015 at 4:28pm

Being a quiet atheist benefit no one. It doesn't benefit the one who proselytizes, nor those who profess faith in a delusion. Of course, there are times when it is foolish or brutish to challenge a believer in fairy tales. I find no honor in those who confront the very ill, elderly, or dying. Challenging one who has full mental and physical faculty is a responsibility. I speak up when a person walks within biting range of a rattle snake; I feel the same obligation when talking to a child or an adult about superstition.

We live in a fast-paced world with all kinds of influences that distract us from matters of importance:

*We live at a time of many peak events. 

*Peak oil availability has come; it will become more scarce and expensive.

*Food prices and all other commodities will rise with rising oil prices,

*Climate change caused by humans around the world threaten many lives. 

*Droughts and floods result in a shortage of food and potable water. 

*Poverty numbers and ratios grow as middle-class figures and ratios decline. 

*Wealth becomes more concentrated in fewer numbers and proportions of individuals. 

*The notion that the Earth exists because of man ends; man does not have dominion over all that swims, crawls, and flies. 

*The male does not have authority over female. 

*Us/them dichotomy long ago lost its utility.

*We cannot solve problems with prayers; we can if we use critical thinking skills and start acting as team members. 

*So many of the problems facing us exist because of the attitudes, beliefs, customs, traditions and values of humans. Conversely, many of the problems can be solved or managed with changes in them.

These changes occur beyond our ability to control. A prudent person, therefore, stops, thinks, takes decisive action, finds like-minded people, while giving effort to either changes what happens or makes adjustments in thinking and acting,

There is no reason to be timid. No one benefits. Some call us bullies for speaking out so confidently and competently, however, we do not have a lot of time to be gentle. Just as we grasp a child out of the way of a dangerous animal, we grasp the opportunity to reveal consequences for unfounded beliefs as we offer other options.

It is not difficult to let go of dependency on myths when we gain awareness of reality and begin to think as mentally healthy, mature adults.

"Letting go and letting god" is more frightening than facing reality and doing what is necessary to prevent a disaster.

Comment by Gerald Payne on December 11, 2015 at 1:33pm

The Achilles heel of our rational outlook is that it only makes sense to other rational thinkers. Religious ideas are so subjective and psychokinetically attractive that there's an impregnable wall of illusion preventing people even considering another description of reality. The ''Emperors new clothes'' is just about the only way to describe the fairy-tale like spell that people are under.

Comment by Gerald Payne on December 11, 2015 at 12:02pm

That people can deny evolution is testimony to the hypnotic effect of superstition. Facts are unreligious and therefore unreliable; not a true reading of any analysis because of their deviation from revealed truth. If facts are somehow dependent on the events they are employed to describe they become useless as persuasive tools. We'd just as well invent another dream-world as an opposing argument to biblical fancies.

Comment by Loren Miller on December 11, 2015 at 8:23am

EEEEK, I'm triggered again ... [chuckle!] about yet another quote, to wit:

Christianity as preached by the likes of Carl Gallups is not about hating the evil and loving the good. It's about loving the evil and calling it good.
-- Steve Shives

Comment by Michael Penn on December 11, 2015 at 7:15am

Your last sentence sums it up pretty well. Religion of any kind is like following the plot of a bad futuristic science fiction movie where the main characters see their waring god as a "god of love." The Christian god offers "salvation" if you become a changed person and do it his way. I'm still wondering about this god because he used to like the savor of burned meat. Oh, wait. He still does. I forgot about that eternity in hell part.

Comment by V.N.K.Kumar on December 11, 2015 at 7:03am

LM: Thanks for that quote. Let me share this one in exchange: “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.” ~ Robert Pirsig

Comment by Loren Miller on December 11, 2015 at 5:50am

This to me is the true horror of religion: it allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions what only lunatics could believe on their own.
-- Sam Harris



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