A while back (quite a while, actually) I read a post on some forum or other describing atheists as "devil-worshipers" and "evil".
Well, being an atheist who doesn't worship the devil either (I like to be even-handed) and I tend to be guided by what I feel is right, I simply had to respond. The subject of that response I include below but first, if only for its entertainment value, I'd like to share what happened next.
Within a week or so of posting my response, I began to receive unsolicited emails from some atheist organisation (I no longer recall the name) informing me that I am part of a growing "Atheist Community".
Well, the reason I am an atheist is because I do not have a belief system. I am fully aware that there is something far greater than I would ever be able to comprehend. I cannot deny that I am part of a cosmic process but I make no pretense of knowing what that might be.
I do not believe in a God that loves me or gets angry at me or worries about what I believe in. I do not believe in a God who is prone to such human failings as anger, jealousy, vengeance and a megalomanic obsession with being worshiped.
The "Atheist Community" struck me as just another belief system and just as evangelical as any religion I have encountered. What on earth can an atheist community actually share except not believing in God? And why is it so important to share this absence of belief? What do they do? Do they have gatherings where they don't pray together? Maybe not sing a few hymns and possibly even not have a collection afterward? Who knows?
It seems that the main objective of this evangelical atheist community is to prove there is no God.
As an atheist, I am not saying there is no God. I am saying that I do not feel within my heart that the God described to me by every religion actually exists. I didn't choose to not believe in God and I cannot choose to believe. All I can do is be true to my heart. However, it should be born in mind that, had I not seen a duck-billed platypus with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe in those either. I am too aware of my capacity to be completely wrong to say that I know there is no God.
Religions identify this force, this process that is beyond comprehension as something that fits into an explanation. To be a devout observer of any religion is to say This is what I know to be true. I cannot in all honesty make that claim. In fact, the only thing I know for sure is that I don't know anything for sure.
I don't want to convert people to my views. I would not want a devout person to abandon their faith on the basis of anything I have said. I am not against religion. In fact religion has played a vital role in our development regardless of what one may feel about the conduct churches and religious institutions.
I just feel that I do not have to Know the forces that move me. I don't have to name it or explain it or worship it.
What I do have a problem with, however, is the vilifying or persecution of anyone because of their belief (or lack thereof). Why should I be branded as "evil" because I don't happen to believe what some people think I should believe? Would I be less "evil" if I pretended to believe? I'm afraid I put a higher value to my honesty than that.
I never responded to these emails from the Atheist Community and eventually, they stopped arriving. No doubt, they have written me off. I don't know if my name ever comes up... "Ron never got back to us, did he? Ah! He hath fallen by the wayside!"