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What It Feels Like to be an Atheist
by DarkSyde

A few folks wanna know why I'm an atheist. I'm not planning on sugar coating this with any platitudes about how religion helps some folks cope with the brutal facts of life they never asked for and don't deserve; it does do that and it does lots of useful things. But that's not what this is about.

If you don't want to know, stop reading ... now. I mean it, stop reading this right now. If you've recently lost someone or are about to lose someone and religion is the one thread you're hanging onto to keep from going bonkers, don't read this; If you need to feel that humans have some kind of special place in the universe and without that special dispensation, it's all 'for nothing', don't read this; If you're easily offended and/or intolerant, don't read this. Normally I'd be happy to induldge all that, but in this one singular case I'm not going to be terribly empathetic about people complaining.
And, I'm gonna do this thing in two parts; one today and one tomorrow. The first trying to explain what it feels like to be an atheist, the latter part on why I'm an atheist. There will be some overlap.

What it feels like to be an Atheist

I've always been an atheist, I know nothing else. From my earliest memory of considering the question, I'm talking maybe age three or four, I was skeptical as hell. The God stories just didn't add up. I'm amazed everyday of my life that everyone isn't an atheist like me. But they're not, I have no idea why that is, but it is reality. And based on many questions over the years it sounds possibly hard for someone who is not one to understand it. So follow me for a bit if you can. And I'll try to describe the world as seen through atheist eyes.

Imagine that you live in a world where 90% of the people around you sincerely believe in something that appears to you to be downright whacky, if perhaps relatively pleasant on the surface in many respects. Say they believe in Santa Claus; beard, the big red suit, the flying reindeer, the sled loaded with a billion gifts, the North Pole Workshop, Mrs. Claus and the elves; all of it.

But in this fantasy world, they're not content merely to believe in Santa Claus, they want you to publicly agree all the time that you also believe in Santa, in their specific version of same, and they pressure everyone else in numerous ways to pretend that they're not strange or childish for believing in this. They don't just limit it at that even, they insist everyone kiss their ass about their Santa belief every damn day of their lives and if you don't humor them at the drop of hat under any circumstances, you're being disrespectful, you're out of line. No matter how much you humor them, they always demand more.

Imagine, seriously imagine for a moment now, that these people, the vast majority of the electorate, vote for politicians based in large part on what they think Santa wants, campaign speeches all end with "Be good or Santa won't come to visit". And most of these voters won't even consider voting for someone who doesn't believe in Santa Claus and his factory at the North Pole. Yet they routinely congratulate themselves as belonging to the most graciously tolerant and open minded people in all of history.

Imagine that large sections of the country, the majority in fact, reject modern geography and want to teach that Santa lives at the North Pole in a giant Dickensian factory manned by elves as part of that curricula. They don't just want to teach it at home or in Santa Mass every Sunday, they wanna teach it as geographical fact and they're militant about it. They lobby the schoolboard and stack them with Santa-ists who want to 'teach both sides of the geographic controversy' and let the kids decide if they wanna believe in Santa's Workshop at the North Pole, or not. They want to 'teach the evidence against naturalistic North Polism" and no amount of evidence, no sat photos, no onsite reports, no live North Pole Cams, will dissuade them from this effort.

Imagine that if you even voice the possibility that Santa might be a pleasant legend or some aspects of the story may be more allegorical in nature rather than literal, at the local school board meeting when this issue comes up, you're shouted down, called everything from a Nazi to a demon to a terrorist, exiled from the neighborhood and maybe isolated at work. Because while a bunch of nice things get done in the name of Santa, a lot of nonsense and out and out bullshit also is justified with the same. For example; your kids better not repeat any Santa skepticism, or they'll be teased horribly at the very least and might get the shit beat out of them by other kids from time to time.

Now further imagine; although the underlying story is sweet enough on its own, the actual uses it is put to by various self-serving factions are about as ugly as it can get: The ruling party is supported by a large block of truly radical Santa believers who want to run the entire country like they believe the North Pole facility operates, including sweatshops with kids all busy working away seven days a week 365 days a year in long assembly lines, with hand tools, in the freezing cold arctic winter, all for benefit of a few old men with long white beards who live in complete splendor on that labor. Because that's how Santa wants it, see?

And even though Santa loves children, it is wrong for government to do Santa's work, so really, it would be going against Santa's will to ever just give the millions of working kids a decent meal, but throw a couple of dozen of them a toy once a year you're A-OK with Santa. That's what they want and they're working hard to get it.

On top of that, based on their Santa beliefs, they also want to outlaw all cortical steroids and hormone treatments of any kind for any reason; cancer, growth defects, hormone deficiencies, replacement therapy, arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, muscular dystrophy, and on and on: Because they claim with utter certainty that Santa likes elves. Elves are Divine, and some hormones could be used to treat dwarfism. You might accidentally prevent the normal development of midgets and the bone pathologies associated with it, if hormones were legal and widely prescribed. So no hormonal or cortical drugs, no exceptions. Some them want to reclassify all drugs as hormones ... just in case.

They try to stack the courts with Santists and they stacked the regulatory oversight boards with Santists at every chance and anytime someone rules against the interest of the sweatshop lobby they're labeled Activist St. Nicks. Anyone who presents evidence to the contrary to Santa or any of these government approved concentration/work camps or ideological Santist Policies is viciously smeared by a professional media, most of whom share the same set of Santa beliefs, and that's on the rare, once in a year occasion when someone who will argue against the literal existence of Santa is even allowed airtime. The nation slides slowly towards Santacracy year by year.

Their entire rationale for this belief system and all the ugliness and oppression associated with it, is based purely on one long Christmas Carol handed down through the ages and some self anointed speakers for Santa--who happen to be in the employ of the wealthy bearded caste--and one or two old children's books.

And BTW it's the same story with various minor differences all over the world; across the ocean are people who reject Santa by name, but who believe in Kris Kringle or Father Christmas or St. Nick with equal or greater intensity than these domestic Santa believers. And some of those pagans are ready and willing to kill each other, kill you and your entire family, in a split-second, up to and including strapping explosives to themselves and blowing up a kids daycare or turning a jet into a missile kamikazi style and plowing it into a factory; all because of that minor quibble over the name and/or suit style of Santa, just to make the point that they really believe their story more than our Santists believe theirs.

Picture your life unfolding in this world: As a child you also believe in Santa because your parents told you to, but as you grow up you become skeptical, some things just don't seem to add up. By the time you're six or seven years-old, you start asking legitimate questions like "How does Santa get down the little chimney, how does Santa get the time to visit each house, how does Santa know the kids who've been good from the ones who've been bad" and so forth. These questions elicit first strangely evasive answers devoid of content and a general sense of unease among the adults you're asking. Over the next few years that moves onto reactions of scorn, patronizing insults, and open hostility. But never, ever one single answer that holds up over time.

Finally you come to suspect there is a real possibility that there is no literal Santa Claus at the North Pole with a toy factory run by elves and flying reindeer. You began gently asking other folks about your concern. But, when you confide in a few of your most trusted friends and closest family members that the whole Santa idea is a nice sentiment to be sure, but it doesn't make much rational sense and there is no evidence for it, the reaction ranges from puzzlement, to pity, to shock, to anger, to open accusations and implications that you're some kind of mental defective for even wondering about it.

You don't understand what's going on, none of this Santa stuff makes any sense and there's zero evidence for it, why can't everyone just admit that? What's the big conspiracy about? Why is everyone pretending there really is a Santa? Then it slowly dawns on you, around age ten or eleven ...  the chilling, horrible truth:

They're Not Pretending. They REALLY Do Believe There Is a Santa Claus.

Egads! Holy Shit! You suddenly feel a little bit lonely at age sixteen as you come to realize that you may surrounded by fully grown adults who are delusional incompetents that cannot distinguish fiction from fact and are enthralled by some kind of massive group hysteria! They're most of them all like that! And they all think you're nuts for not buying into their delusion! What the hell is wrong with these fucking people, can't they see how crazy this shit is?

So, being an adolescent who wants to know things and unafraid, you confront people who are trying to convince you about the existence of Santa with the what seem to you to be pretty obvious shortcomings in the story. The result is a torrent of stupidly phased questions, anger, at times hatred, usually disguised as pity or concern, but not always.

" Where do you think Christmas came from? How do you think the idea of giving gifts arose in the first place?" you're asked repeatedly.

Some of the questions you're being badgered with now are utterly exempt of any semblance of logic, "I've seen Santa so how do you explain that one?" or "How do you think the North Pole came to be Santa's Workshop if there is no Santa for crying out loud???? Huh? Huh? Answer THAT ONE Mr Smarty-pants!!!"

And no matter how many times you explain it's more likely Santa was thought up and refined over time by earlier generations, that there is in fact a long historical trail of Santa like characters in the cultures of your ancestors seamlessly leading up to the present day version, you are ignored or laughed at. And over and over the same tired old questions incessantly get thrown in your face again and again as though there was never a response on your part and there is no possible explanation outside of Santa (Or St. Nick or Kris Kringle or Father Christmas, if you happen to be questioned by those respective adherents). It's baffling to you.

Come your college years, more serious folks around now, I'm talking otherwise fully functional adults who hold jobs, sport an array of impressive degrees in Law, Philosophy, Science, or Mathematics, and who make important decisions, bombard you constantly with "Without Santa there would be no reason for us to be good, where do you think morality and ethics come from?; What's your 'world-view' and what evidence do you have for it, if you have no origin for morality?; I mean what's to stop you from going on a killing and raping spree if you don't believe in Santa?"

And no matter how many times you freely state you have no 'world-view' outside of an intuitive 'reality' and that such ideas regarding morality and ethical behavior and what is or is not a crime, likely stem from the culture you are raised in where they're acquired as a child unconsciously and then refined over time as one matures, they ignore you and keep throwing back the same question. The same question over and over in a dazzling variety of slick, pseudointellectual wrappers, while they practically dance in victory with glee every time they hurl the same dumbass question, as though they proved their Santa belief beyond any questionable doubt.

As you begin your adult life, marry or have a family of your own, the arguments don't get any better, they in fact get noticeably worse at times. Irate e-mailers demand, "How do you explain Rudolph's glowing red nose?"

And no matter how many times you patiently explain that Rudolph's existence and his nose is no more rational or supported than Santa's, that the question exhibits a fundamental logical fallacy by assuming the premise, you are ignored as if your response is invisible to your questioner and the same question is thrown endlessly back in your face as if it's a dead-cinch proof of Santa. You begin to understand that these folks aren't only whacked in the head, they're either liars or unable to think beyond the level of a toddler. Because it really is like arguing with a two-year old most of the time, only these aren't two-year olds, these are grown educated human beings. And you start to really worry now; what if most people are insane and you just happen by the luck of the draw to be one of the few sane ones? A lucid person in a world gone mad?

Hey, maybe you've not given this Santa thing a fair shot. Maybe if you talk to a pro, or meditate or think on it long and hard, something will click into place you're missing. So you embark on a multiyear voyage asking Santa ministers and reading the theology of Santa. You look at other beliefs like the ones who worship St. Nick or Father Christmas, you try, you really try to make it work. You play with altered states of consciousness and talk to people from other cultures about their version of the Santa belief.

And sure, you learn some useful tips, like how to distinguish fresh blotter acid from stuff that's been laying around turning into strychnine, and you might be able to lower or raise your heartbeat using biofeedback after a few sessions. But you find in the end none of the actual Santa like beliefs make any more sense than your own homegrown version. And you can no more force yourself to believe any of them, than you can flap your arms and fly away.

Still, incessantly they recruit you, incessantly they beat you down anytime you open your mouth and try to engage in a real, honest, thoughtful discussion, with the same damn cheesy worthless lines you've been hearing for years now. And from time to time, when you finally convince someone, say someone who is trying to recruit you to accept that Santa is a real entity and really does all those amazing things, that you're not buying it merely on their say-so, they stalk off screaming things like "OH I get it! You HATE Santa Claus and you HATE Christmas and you HATE getting presents, and you're trying to get even by pretending you don't believe in Him. Well, I'll be laughing this Christmas when I'm opening my presents and your only gift is a brand new brain tumor for being bad".

Imagine, as you puzzle your way through this temporal menagerie called life, full to the brim with more of the functionally insane humanoids that make the fabric of experience; bosses, girlfriends, pals, enemies, and role models, that Santa reminders are on every coin, every paper dollar, on every street corner, on every news show, on every cable network, that there are radio and TV stations that are dedicated 24 hours a day to extolling the virtues of Santa and the power of his mighty Sled. Every now and then you come across a fellow traveler who also marvels at the insane people, and you might become friends, compare notes, and laugh about the crazy mother fuckers, but it's a rare thing to meet them in person.

And in every one of those Santa reminders on every five cent piece and every dollar bill, lurks a tiny hint, a latent glimpse of those ugly components of Santaism and open wounds of rival Santa-like beliefs that are always at each other's throats; the wars justified and condoned, we're assured, by Santa; the sweatshops and pagan suicide bombers and the political opportunists who want to outlaw a huge class of life saving drugs based on Santa belief; the crazies who want to enact laws forcing everyone else to suffer horrible pain and disfiguring fatal diseases, all to humor their belief in mythological elves. Sometimes as you get older, all you can do is laugh so that you don't cry at the immense human tragedy of it all.

And sure, you're used to it, it doesn't really bother you most of the time because you just don't think about how totally fucking nuts the people around you are or what easy prey they are for the shameless predators of this loony jungle, as long as they're kept from hurting you or enacting their crazed legendary tenets into law and screwing up your life, but it's every damn place you go and it's getting worse and worse. The Santa Clausians are becoming more demanding, more powerful, more delusional and more arrogant every year. You grew up swearing your allegiance at the start of every school day that America was One Nation Under Santa from kindergarten on, and now some people are questioning the usefulness of that tradition, and pointing out it could be seen as blatant brainwashing, and they're being attacked day and night by Santa apologists and compared to pedophiles in the process. The entire Congress shuts down to pass a unanimous amendment supporting saying Santa in the Pledge in School and recites it on the steps of the capitol, shrieking the word Santa out, playing to the cameras and the demented Santa believers on the other side of the optical pipes they're attached to. Which is more comforting? That the leaders of the nation are lying and pandering to Santa believers? Or that they actually believe it also? Hell of a choice, eh?

It starts getting uglier: Imagine that one very loud group of Santa believers regularly demands that you move to another country and/or that you be prevented from giving or receiving gifts or having Christmas Day off because you don't believe in Santa, while members of the same group are attacking you in an even louder voice claiming you are trying to ruin or cancel Christmas, and they demand that you be forced to celebrate it and participate in each and every Santa Claus ritual they personally deem requisite. It's pretty clear to you now: These seemingly normal people are not just fucking insane when it comes to Santa, they're incoherent, dangerously unbalanced, demanding mutually exclusive sets of behavior from you that would be impossible to comply with.

Now imagine: Just two or three-hundred years ago it was totally SOP to take folks, men, women, children, who didn't believe in a specific version of Santa and stick red-hot steel objects into their rectums and vaginas, boil their limbs, beat them senseless with padded clubs, tear them apart with teams of horses, cut open their stomachs and rip out their intestines while they're still alive in front of their loved ones, or slowly burn them alive in public; all in the name of Santa's good will and often on the mere anonymous allegation from some two-bit ten-year old kid or a crazy deranged nutcase suffering from schizophrenia that you once said you don't believe Santa can really fly. Now imagine that that still goes on in some parts of the world AND there's a whole bunch of people in your country who are clamoring to bring that all back.

Imagine that when your mom or dad or heart surgeon or teacher or your best friend tells you they firmly, devoutly, believe in Santa replete with the flying reindeer and the ability to get down every chimney in the world in one evening, that you'd better believe also or you won't be getting a damn thing in the will or in life from them ever, or maybe they'll just treat you like shit in front of the rest of the family, AND THEY'RE NOT KIDDING IN THE SLIGHTEST ABOUT ANY OF IT.

You are under a barrage of Santa believers from the cradle to grave who act everything from shocked to disgusted that you don't believe in Santa, they're getting increasingly militant, yet not a one of them has the slightest bit of evidence that an entity called Santa really exists; not one of them is willing to explain why the North Pole is nothing but a barren, frozen wasteland, except maybe to vaguely explain that the "Workshop" is incorporeal or not meant to be taken "literally"; a claim which other Santa believers disagree with vigorously. Not one of them offers up the slightest tidbit of convincing scientific rationale for how reindeer fly and tow an arial sled, or how Santa reads the minds and keeps tabs on 2 billion kids, and visits them in a single 24 hour period once a year to deliver toys built at his workshop by magic miniature toymakers. Not one of them can offer any compelling real-world reasoning for why Santa would want to do this anyway, what he gets out of it, how he obtains supplies, feeds himself and his workers, treats disease, avoids old age and death, or how they all came to play this role in the first place. And yet you are portrayed as an imbecile and one chip short of Adolph Hitler for not believing it.

Pretty ridiculous, huh? A world gone bonkers, populated and completely run by a majority of people who are frankly clinically insane, dangerously immature, often violent, historically monstrous, completely irrational, closed to any internal questioning, convinced you're either stupid, evil, or dangerous, and hoping for all they're worth to infect you with the same mimetic virus. Can you even imagine how whacked it would be to have to deal with that kind of shit? To have to go through life walking on eggshells on the subject of Santa lest you offend a believer and they blow their stack at you, target you for persecution for political purposes, and/or question your worth, your job, your very life?
Well, if you can imagine all that, you know for just a few moments how it feels everyday to be a grown adult surrounded by wishful childish thinkers clinging to nonsensical myths as if they were real and insisting, in fact force feeding, that mythology to you; people who sometimes turn quite violent, get downright nasty if you express the slightest disagreement with their specific version of the Jolly Old Guy; people who happen to wield incredibly powerful arsenals of WMDs and massive traditional military might as well as running everything from the local police department to the IRS; people who are now are reopening torture chambers and gulags with armies of pundits cackling with delight at the very thought of returning to the good ole torture days.

It's not like we're living everyday in mortal fear, but it's nevertheless a little nerve racking that we find ourselves surrounded, defenseless, and at the mercy of hordes of people that for all the world appear to have lost their minds. And it's a bit depressing that this is the best the human species and/or our own nation can do or has done in millennia, especially now given our potential and the technology/knowldge now at our disposal.

And in the end, you can either pretend to be a Santa believer, basically live a lie 24/7 and try to avoid any showdowns over it that would expose you. Or you can be yourself, embrace reason, live truth, and take your chances, thanking your lucky stars the whole time you don't live in the past or somewhere else in the present; hoping to hell that the Santa believers don't completely dominate everything and go on some kind of anti-Santa purge.

That's kind of what it feels like to be an atheist. If you try and imagine further why you don't believe that Santa is real regardless of how nice a story it is or all the nice things about Christmas you enjoy, you'll be ahead of the game for tomorrow's post on why I don't believe in deities, including yours. More then...

What It Feels Like to be an Atheist, Part 2
by DarkSyde

Life is a gift to all of us. And yet, when one is an atheist, they are sometimes bothered by perhaps well meaning but nevertheless annoying theists, who accuse them of not caring about the life of anyone or anything. It's an odd reaction, because for the atheist, this life is it. In our view, we humans get a few decades on average, a tiny arc of consciousness across the infinite ocean of space-time, a blink of the cosmic eye, in which the universe can be uniquely aware of itself through each of us. And accepting that there is likely nothing afterward, nothing but the comforting non-existence that preceded conception, makes this time far more precious to the atheist, than many theists seem willing to contemplate.

Once again, a fair warning to all, this might be offensive as hell to some. Just try and understand that even though I think religion may be crazy or irrational, that doesn't mean I universally dislike religious people or that I think everything they do outside of religion is worthless. Point of Fact: This two-part series came about last evening during a friendly e-mail exchange with a Kossack friend who is definitely a believer and s/he happens to be someone whose integrity, character, and compassion, I greatly admire.

Now a foreword and a suggested code of conduct since the post got so distended: Take some time to decide if something is really worth your time to respond to, there will be trolls on both sides looking to agitate you anyway they can.

Your religion may be inspiring to you. It may have stories that are inspiring to me. It may have mnemonic value; critically important value at that. It may be rich in tradition and culture, it may encapsulate important events in human history. It may offer hope to people who have no hope left. It may serve as a useful insight into human nature. Humans may indeed have a preexisting facility to acquire belief systems similar to the one for language. It may provide a valuable ethical and behavioral framework. It may spread like a virus and mutate like bird flu. I don't necessarily think you are weak minded for buying it, I think enculturation and peer pressure is some powerful gumbo. But this diary isn't about any of that.

This is about why I am an atheist, not why you should be one. And by atheist I mean that I strongly suspect that the core, underlying, supernatural claims of religion are nonsense. If you want me to not be an atheist and share your particular flavor of supernatural belief, you need to be able to perform the magic or produce the supernatural being you claim exists and subject that creature to a battery of tests under controlled conditions.

That's it folks. That's the criteria if you want me to believe that your underlying supernatural being or beings are for real. Spare me/us word games, meaning try and avoid twisting words into unrecognizable states of vague meaningless mush. EG: The assumption that Cap'n Crunch exists and the assumption that dogs exist are not on the same rung in the ladder of 'faith'. One requires extraordinary faith and the mind of a child or a 'tard, the other only requires a trip to my backyard. Same for redefining atheism as a religion. You can call atheism anything you want, but you may just confuse people if you do so. Because if atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby and baldness is a hair color.

And please, try and limit any long-winded philosophical explanations of why your particular deity or supernatural claim is untestable or perfectly resembles one that does not exist; if it cannot be tested and happens to perfectly imitate one that does not exist, skeptics are not going to buy it. Same for excuses that the magic doesn't work when a skeptic is present with a camcorder. It doesn't matter, even if it's written in a book that it worked once upon a time. Same for demanding I prove your magic wizard/dragon/powers/sea monster/pantheon doesn't exist or 'you win'. This is for your own good: You don't win anything outside of exposing yourself as logically clueless.

Speaking of which here's an exhaustive list of Logical Fallacies many of which were known to even the ancients and most of which are required topics for a degree in philosophy. If you regale us in comments with your philosophical prowess or try to snow anyone in that regard, and go onto commit even one of them, you will probably be laughed at and ridiculed by people who have real training in philosophy or formal debate.

Why am I an Atheist?

In my Santa Claus analogy I mentioned near the end to imagine why it is you don't literally believe in Santa and his North Pole factory. I bet for most of you, it's not because you hate Santa, I mean who would? It's probably not because you hate Christmas or despise giving or receiving gifts. I doubt it's because you detest having days off or eating kickass food with your family and friends. You probably can't prove there is no Santa and even if you try, I assure you from long experience in dealing with creationists* I can offer a counter argument.

No, none of that is the reason: Your disbelief in a literal Santa Claus, flying reindeer, nocturnal visits, toy factories, elves, etc., likely centers on three concrete objections:

1. "It" makes no sense
2. There is no evidence for "it"
3. We're adults who can get by fine at Christmas time and enjoy ourselves without "it" having to be true

Evidence by far is the key. Something might not make sense, like Quantum Mechanics, but we accept it because of the evidence. OTOH something might make sense, like the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, but we don't accept it as valid, yet, because we have no evidence. The reason for this asymmetry is, as the late Carl Sagan said: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Combine a bunch of bundled extraordinary claims that have no evidence to support them, not even mediocre evidence, with the fact that the set of claims don't make any sense at all kinds of levels, and that's a real problem for someone like me to get past.

Simply substitute "it" for religion in the above three points and you understand the framework of why I'm an atheist. Since most of the people who ask me about this are Christians and that's the religion I know the most about, I'll address that particular tradition under the three qualifiers I mentioned above. With the understanding that I don't think your religion is any sillier than any other as it can easily be extended to cover other supernatural cosmogonies.
It makes no sense

There is so much in the Bible (And the Quron and everything else) that makes no sense, it's pretty hard to pick a place to begin. I suppose a good enough place would be the beginning of the book: It makes no sense to create some kind of paradise in which man and woman have no inkling of right and wrong, and then hold them responsible for doing something wrong. It makes no sense to hold their descendants for all time responsible for them doing something wrong even if they did in fact have some mysterious way of determining right and wrong prior to being taught how to distinguish right from wrong.

It makes no sense for YVHW to kill off every living thing on earth with a flood or any other psychotic method of genocide if he can do whatever he wants and his goal is to engender love for His masterful and benevolent rule. It is in fact an act far, far, to the right of Hitler and Ghangas Kahn combined; it makes those two pikers look like candy-stripers. And the flood is just one of many monstrous acts.

It makes no sense to talk about an immortal being dying, because by definition immortal beings cannot die. It's like talking about a square circle, or an even number that is not divisible by two; it's nonsensical words strung together in a transparently vacuous parody of meaning.

Speaking of which, what generally makes dying such a big sacrifice in the first place is that you stay dead, forever. Another thing that makes torture and execution such an unpleasant experience is that you're utterly helpless throughout the ordeal. Being the omnipotent Creator of all space and time kind of takes the edge of that, and it makes no sense that someone would try to pitch it as a big sacrifice.

This example of what I feel is nonsense bears special emphasis by graphic comparison: Casey Sheehan was sacrificed; Pat Tillman was sacrificed; People in New Orleans were sacrificed; Every fireman that ran into the WTC was sacrificed. What makes those tragedies a sacrifice is not just that we know they happened or the cause they died for, but that it meant they were gone forever. OTOH, being unconscious for three days and then coming to as the Immortal Ruler of the Universe is not a sacrifice, it's a stunt. And the consequences for the stunt man are the sweetest deal in the history of mankind.

It makes no sense that God would disguise himself as a human, fake his death, and expect us to drop to our knees in abject awe at his 'sacrifice', because it pales in comparison to the ones we mere mortals face. In my view, it's frankly a grotesque insult to humanity to try and pass that off as anything close to the fear, horror, and pain that real people have to deal with under torture and execution. And it makes little sense to me that a being which creates Quasars and butterflies would come up with such an empty and downright bizarre stunt as a solution to problems they intentionally created in the first place and expect us to whimper in admiration at their sense of compassion. Especially since by all accounts they could have remedied it with the snap of their supernatural fingers, or just not let the problem happen in the first place.

This is how sense works imo, using the Bible itself: Either Jesus died and stayed that way in which case he did not rise and Christianity is built on an erroneous premise, or he did rise in which case he did not die and there was no sacrifice, and Christianity is built on an erroneous premise. It really is that simple.

It makes no sense that an omnipotent being who wishes so much to be recognized and loved would conceal its existence with a sustained vigor well beyond the designation of paranoid. It does makes sense that if H & R Block can open up a branch office in every small town, that a motivated, omnipotent being could do the same, and personally man it himself 24/7 with angels out front serving food and drink.

It makes no sense that a perfect being would need to create the universe or mankind, because by definition a perfect beings needs or wants for nothing.

Hell, even their own beliefs don't make sense as purely cultural precepts: Morality under God is absolute, never relative--> It's immoral to destroy children at any stage after conception because it is an absolute, regardless of what good may come of it for individual people or the society they live in, except it's perfectly moral we're told by wingnuts, to drop bombs on children in Iraq, precisely because of the good that may come of it for the individual or the culture; this is 'absolute morality'? Well, It Makes No Sense.

In general, and this one applies to all Abrahamic Faiths and most others: It makes no sense that the oral histories of a few bands of rival roaming shepherds during the bronze age would harbor the one and only true secret of how the Cosmos came to be. It's far, far, more likely that they made this shit up over many generations, and we can tell that is probably exactly the case, because again, it makes no sense at all, and there is a long line of historical antecedents in ANE Mythology leading right up to the early Christian version. We can literally read old scrolls and accounts and see the various components of the God of the OT come together from other deities.

And even if the entire universe turns out to be an artificially manufactured object made by Intelligent Agency, as fascinating as that would be, it makes no sense to automatically assume the entire 10^36 cubic light-year Cosmos was made exclusively for us.

It makes no sense to me that I have this indestructible, undefined, supernatural attachment called a 'soul' which gets reincarnated or goes to a vague 'afterlife'. And if that soul existed before I did, has little or no recollection of my life while I'm alive, does not interact with me in any discernible way, and retains little or none of what makes me 'me' after I'm gone, I have news for you: The soul and have very different agendas to say the least! It doesn't make any sense to me that I'd give a hoot what happens to it, it's an unsubstantiated supernatural parasite as far as I'm concerned and its future welfare is about as important to me as an imaginary tapeworm.

Lastly, no matter how sophisticated one's apologetics are, it makes no sense that a being can be simultaneously omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient, while evil and pain exists and still provide us with free will while at the same time expecting us to choose door number two or be condemned to eternal torture. All those qualities and conditionals taken together are mutually exclusive in more ways than I can count. If you argue otherwise, no matter how slick and polished your arguments, you're arguing that circles can be squares. And it makes no sense to me that such convoluted apologetics would be required in the first place to reconcile all these crazy inconsistent claims, or explain why these supernatural creatures happen to exactly imitate ones that were made up, if all this stuff was The One Truth of the Universe.

That's just a handful Biblical claims that make little or no sense to me. I'm not saying they didn't happen or that they're impossible, only that they make little or no sense To Me. I'm sure others can provide other exemplars that make no sense to them in comments.

There is no evidence for it

I don't know how the Bible, or the Quron, or a Native American Creation Fable, could mean anything else other than literally happened ... when it states clearly that something literally happened. Make sense?

With that literal interpretation in mind for the OT then, there is no evidence the universe is a few thousand years old and a shitload of evidence that it is much older. There is no evidence that there was ever a Garden of Eden and there is a mountain of evidence that neither humans or many other species descend from a single mating pair in the geologically recent past. As would be predicted by both the Garden Story and the Ark Story.

And without that Garden and the whole bit of blaming Eve for disobeying before she knew what disobeying was, which remember makes no sense to start with, and blaming us for all eternity, which again recall makes no sense, there is no original sin and thus no need for salvation from it, which means your entire religion is built on something for which there is no evidence for. (And no I didn't invent this, Young Earth Creationists have used it for years as part of their spiel)
There is no evidence for a global flood involving trillions of cubic kilometers of water which somehow completely disappeared without a trace in the recent past, or in the distant past for that matter. And there is massive evidence against it.

No matter what kind of tests I propose for the existence of supernatural critters, the respective adherents always shoot it down as unworkable. But that's where you're stuck imo. Because there is no testable, reasonably clear evidence for fairies or invisible dragons or Zeus or any of the Gods, Godesses, Godlets, demi-Gods of any kind, and those are all extraordinary claims which therefore require ___ __ ?

I'm an adult

And just as a child must abandon comfortable fantasy, like Santa, if they're going to be a productive member of society and deal with real life, we as a species must abandon comforting fantasy, like YVWH, and face the cold hard truth if we're going to deal with it. The truth is, by every measure we can make, we're fragile, ephemeral sacks of meat just like every other animal species. The truth is, by every measure we can make, our minds, our sensation of love, hate, taste, sight, morality, science, sense of consciousness, everything, are all utterly dependent on the proper functioning of a mass of neurons housed in our skull weighing less than four pounds. And, if any significant portion of that mass gets heavily traumatized, it's bye-bye birdie for the owner. Asking where you 'go' when that structure ceases to exist, is like asking where your files on your hard drive 'go' when you melt it into slag. They don't 'go' anywhere, they no longer exist.

Yes, it would be nice if there was a magic invisible sky wizard who took care of us when we die and redress injustices committed against you while alive by others. It would be nice if your kid or your mom or your loved one who was cruelly cut down by painful lingering cancer was still 'out there' somewhere. It would be nice if there was a Santa Claus, and I don't mean that to sound flippant; Who wouldn't want there to be a Santa Claus? For that matter who wouldn't like to be able to think themselves into the air and fly like a bird at will? Well, it doesn't matter how nice the idea of Santa is, there isn't a real Santa, and you can concentrate for all your worth and flap your arms for days, you will not fly.

It doesn't make sense, there is no evidence for it, and I'm an adult. I deal in reality as it is, not as I wish it would be, so that I can perhaps change that reality. And that's important. Because if I could be said to 'believe in' anything, it's that I believe in the human potential for progress, problem solving, and flexibility. That's how we've managed to solve problems in the past.

If we put that proven methodology to work, I think probably, one by one, diseases will fall or be engineered out of existence. I think using that methodology we can get a handle on hunger, poverty, war, greed, natural disasters, and on and on. One day it may happen that we will conquer aging, that we can record and share our minds. Maybe, sooner or later, we will even eliminate death itself; or at least postpone for practical eternity.

This "we" I'm talking about is no doubt a very different we than exists now, this is our remote descendants. They may have linked minds, be cybernetic, meld machine and biology, design themselves at the molecular level. Their consciousness may be carried by silicon, nanodevices, ensconced in exotic dark matter, or housed in something we cannot even conceive of. These descendants might ply the ocean of space time as easily as you drive to the store, make planets, create stars, build black-holes and farm them for gravity waves. They, our children's children, might learn to reconfigure the entire universe.

But a spark of us will still burn in them, all down the ages, just as a vestige of the first hominid, the first tetrapod, the first cell, is part of us. And unless there is some kind of serious disruption in record keeping, they'll probably know that they came from a single planet orbiting a small yellow star, where generations of their ancestors busted their asses so that they could be free, truly free. If so, they'll probably be able to retrieve data on the 21st century, know there was a thing called the Internet, that on it there were blogs, maybe even know about the Daily Kos: They might be able to pull up this very post.

For the last few paragraphs I've left the world of the known and engaged in some pretty far out speculation, but I see no reason why it cannot be that way, or close to it, in the distant future ... IF. IF we want it, if we make it happen.

The quicker we accept that no one is likely to just hand us these wonderful abilities and gifts, the quicker we'll get to work developing it for real, on our own. Because ultimately, we are responsible for us. What becomes of us is not in the mythical hands of invisible Gods-- as best we can tell and for better or worse. It's in our hands; and it's high time we all started accepting that wonderful gift of self determination. Hell, we should be dancing on the rooftops that we get the chance to determine our destiny as a species, because we're the only one on earth that can!

We owe it to try, to shoot for the stars, for all the people who came before us and helped pull us out of the pit of animal savagery. We owe it to the wonderful diversity of life on earth of which we are a part and which gave birth to our species; an unbroken lineage stretching back four billion years of which we are the managing agent. Is there anyone who doesn't feel that's special enough?

We owe it to ourselves to keep that flame burning, keep pushing the boundaries, so that each and every generation will more and more inherit the promise of what can be, while leaving the grimmer world of what was behind. I may reject the deities that human intellects have cooked up, but I don't doubt the potential of that intellect. That's what I 'believe in' if I could be said to 'believe in' anything; I believe in our future, because I believe in us. I believe in you.

And that's why I'm an atheist.