I tried to reply in the comment box but it was too long. Here is a response to another anonymous comment. For the sake of the blog can you please email me with your ideas so we can move on.
"As someone who is on the fence about religion, I believe that we should all admit that we are open to doubt." -anonymous
Anonymous you are on an important fence, one that if a strong gust of wind blew you off of might land you on the side of reason and science, or the will of GOD might push you onto the side of faith.
"Religion is one way of making meaning in this life." --Anonymous
Well faith is a funny thing. You need it for biological survival as a child, which is where you learn faith. If an elder or grown up says don't jump of that cliff you believe them on faith because believing your elders will increase your fitness and survival and the children who don't listen may die. As a child you have no way of knowing how to distinguish truth in things like not jumping off of cliff comments and if you sacrifice a goat it will bring more rain comments (or santa clause which I was very faithful to as a child). Only education, reasoning, and evidence later as a developing person can dispel what you were told as a child. So I may sound cruel to people of faith but it is only because they haven't reasoned out which faiths that they were given as children are false or true, and if your child faith tells you fly into a building for allah because you will get thousands of virgins in the after life I hope someone will help you dispel that false belief with science and reasoning.
The need to believe in what other people say is hardwired into our brains as a survival response as children. One that sadly persists well into adulthood. Imagine what your life would be like if you were raised by someone who did not tell you or force you to accept large quantities of non factual information such as religion. You would be a rational thinker in a world of faith based people (a nightmare really), and still a person who could have a meaningful life of love and kindness. I still enjoy fairy tales although I know they aren't true.
"There are rational, intelligent, open-minded individuals who practice a wide variety of religions. Insisting that they are misguided and ridiculous because they seek a larger truth behind this life? Well that just makes you seem sort of childish." --anonymous
Essentially I can't sound nearly as childish as someone who arrogantly defies basic reasoning and continues to hold on to childish faith and indoctrination. Faith is a childish adaptation reasoning is and adult skill.
"Can't we all--atheists and religious folks alike--just agree that none of us has it all figured out?"
Actually anonymous, many people can't admit that we don't have it figured all out, especially faith based religious nuts. The beauty of science and reason is that "figuring it out" is a process open to discussion and experimentation and re-examination. Not knowing is what drives science, Faith based religions are the word of god and not up for debate because they apparently "know." at least not to the lay person or many organized sects. Now reason and science does not have it all figured out this is true. But it has been able to eliminate many things as NOT being true. The earth is not flat, or the center of the universe, nor is it only 6000 years old, dinosaurs did exist, evolution by natural selection is a simple and exact process by which all living things came to be so perfectly suited to their environments, Jesus could not have been born from a virgin. If you speak to god or he speaks to you in your brain, the synapses in your brain are firing off the same synapses as a person with delusions, schizophrenia and psychosis. The human need to believe in "things" arises from an evolutionary adaptation for survival of children believing older humans. While science has not figured out everything that is, it certainly figured out many many many things that are NOT, many things that people still take on faith.
"I don't think anyone's prayers will convert you, but belittling an act of faith is simply unkind." ---anonymous
You know what is also unkind, belittling my intelligence on my own blog. Why is it that whenever anyone (especially Atheists) question or criticize religion everyone gets "seriously offended" and personally hurt by it but religious people (and anyone) can say whatever they want about reason and science and no one gets hurt. You know why? Because we have evidence to support what we have figured out. If you say "Dinosaurs don't exist!" or better yet, "That study on the yellow bellied warbler's feeding behavior is inaccurate." I don't feel like my belief system is under attack. If fact I would welcome an evidence based argument to prove that indeed dinosaurs do not exist or that the statistics of the yellow bellied warbler were calculated wrong.
My guess is that people get offended by questioning their faith because deep down inside they know that there is a whole lot of shit that doesn't add up and doesn't make sense and doesn't compute in their reasoning adult brain. They cover it up with faith, the cure all for reason, and when someone questions that or challenges it, it scares them because it might deconstruct the faith based world that they live inside their minds. And additionally, fear tends to breed anger and hostility.
"I also don't think your spiel on atheism will change anyone's mind or destroy their faith. Surely a mutual respect isn't too much to ask?" ---anonymous
I'm not trying to destroy anyone's faith. If someone voluntarily comes on my blog and reads something that makes logical sense to them then I can't stop them. Maybe it was their "GOD" guiding them to read the blog so that they can either find another sinner to save....
Or maybe their "GOD" is so busy worrying and controlling and manipulating the billion trillion trillion gazillion megamillion particles in the universe he apparently created and simultaneously tending to the million million million bazillion prayers and requests and actions of every person on earth that he sent this person to my blog to spark the beginning of them thinking rationally to simply take one minuscule load of one person off the GOD's back of incomprehensibly complex duties.
Mutual respect huh? I invite you to search the internet for disrespectful Atheists comments and organizations. Then I invite to search the internet for disrespectful faith based people and organizations. I think you will find that the disrespect is significantly weighted on the latter.
You never hear about crazy Atheist bombers or nutty Atheist evangelists telling people to hang folks for being black or blow up abortion clinics. Disrespect?
I can't quote it exactly but Gore Vidal once said something to the effect of:
"We must respect one man's religious beliefs just as we respect his belief that his wife is beautiful and his children are smart."
So I'm sorry for disrespecting your beliefs religious people. I don't mean to upset your unshakable faith which apparently I couldn't even if I wanted to according to Anonymous. The human drive to believe the unbelievable is a pretty damn strong biological adaptation, far stronger than a simple little blog post.
But I'm equally if not more so sorry that I even have to apologize at all for simply pointing out some of these things on my own space where people voluntarily attend.
If you've come this far I suggest you go a little farther anonymous. You can voluntarily read the first chapter from SEVERAL Richard Dawkin's books at RICHARDDAWKINS.net. I suggest THE GOD DELUSION.
Many of the points I raised today can be further understood through reading a far more eloquent writer and scientist as he.