First of all, here are my cards on the table as far as religion goes.
I don't know whether there's a god. The more I see of the world, the less I can accept that anyone sensible is running it. I am unconvinced.
Equally, I can see no evidence at all to say there isn't a god. Evolution doesn't disprove God. Scientists creating microscopic life forms in the laboratory don't disprove God. They're working with what's already there. Life. Where that originally came from remains an unknown. Copying is not the same as creation.
There might be a god, there might not. I used to refer to myself as a non-committed atheist. That's my position. Now, on with the rant.
I won't use that description now. There are atheist groups! They have meetings! They sit around and discuss not-God and don't sing hymns or pray. They ridicule the religious who meet equally regularly and do the opposite. Atheism is the trendy new religion.
To me, that's like having a non-knitting circle. Meet once a week and don't knit.
There is a point to a knitting circle. People meet and share in an activity. There is a point to a religious meeting (I might not agree with it, but then I don't knit either). People of shared belief meet and enjoy the experience.
What's the point of a regular meeting where you turn up and collectively refuse to do something? How can that achieve anything at all? There are far more enjoyable ways to waste your time.
Almost all these groups specifically deny the Christian God. They never mention Allah, or Pan, or the whole range of Norse, Hindu, Roman, Greek, Celtic etc gods. Why? Does it take so much effort to not-believe that they can only deal with one at a time? How many gods can one person not-believe in? Is there a limit? Are they going to have public burnings of non-heretics at some point? It certainly seems to be heading that way.
I can think of nothing more ridiculous than an organisation dedicated to not believing in something. Why do such groups even exist? If you don't want to join that knitting circle, don't join. It's not complicated. Why set up your own non-knitting circle where non-knitters congregate, sans wool? I really don't care if someone else knits or not. Let them knit. I'll wear it (that's a conditional promise. I want to see it first) but I won't knit it. Maybe the knitters have something. Come nuclear Armageddon, those who can make clothes might well be the only survivors. Maybe the religious are right. Maybe they're not. I'm on the fence.
The thing is, if the atheists are right, then it really doesn't matter if people go to church. If the religious are right, then it does. To my mind, those who follow a god might be onto something, so it's safest not to dismiss their beliefs out of hand. Maybe all those gods are real. Maybe none of them are. Why do those who don't believe in gods feel the need to get militant about it? Are they destined to form right-wing non-religious terrorist cells?
I don't ride a motorcycle, but I've never joined a non-motorcycle club. I've never owned a gun but I'm not a member of a non-gun club. Yet those things should exist, if the Church of Atheism exists.
Why stop there? Let's form a club where we sit in closed cinemas and don't watch a film every week. What about non-insurance for your car? If you crash, you pay them. What about an unfriendly society? Wait, I might join that one.
Where is it going to end? I see atheists dropping out of the Church of Atheism. One by one, they'll declare they don't believe there's not a god, and we'll come full circle.
I've watched documentaries where smug professors declare there can't be any ghosts. Their arguments are always circular and start from the premise there are no ghosts. They boil down to 'I'm right because I say I am'. Is that better or worse than saying 'This is right because the Bible/Q'ran/whatever says so'? It's worse. These professors are setting themselves up as the High Priests of Science. Science shouldn't work like that. It won't work, as long as these High priests reign. But that's a different rant.
Still, these scientists are pronouncing their beliefs as conclusive proof of the non-existence of something. Science cannot prove the non-existence of anything. They are speaking from personal belief, and using their positions to decry someone else's personal belief. That's nothing short of disgusting. It's also pointless. Why declare yourself an expert in something you don't believe exists? Why even pretend to study something you don't believe exists?
Atheists are those who are convinced there is no god, and no afterlife. I have no problem with that. The religious are equally convinced there is a god (or gods) and that there is something after death. I have no problem with that either. Believe whatever you want. It doesn't change my life one jot.
I can see why the religious group together. I can't see why the atheists bother. Are their lives really that empty that they need to band together to waste their time (and remember, they believe this is all the time they'll have) in putting down another group of people?
Atheist organisations are the most idiotic idea anyone's had since the inventor of administration. If you're in one, get out now. Join a train-ignoring group or something. At least you'll get some fresh, if slightly diesel-tainted, air.
Rant over. My position remains unchanged. My answer to 'Is there a God' is still 'Maybe, and that's final'.
I'm not calling myself an atheist any more. It's a religion now, and it's not one of the better ones.