I am not psychic at all, but I predict this year will be the year of the atheist. What prompts me to believe this? Looking at the Reddit.com website, there are many articles about atheism in the news today. And the popularity of Richard Dawkin's book The God Delusion, which reached the top ten (ironically at Christmas time), seems to confirm it.
I have no problem with people who have other beliefs than me, or no beliefs at all. But why do people find it necessary to try to remove the faith of others? Do these same people relish telling children there is no Santa Claus? Do they look forward to divulging that the Tooth Fairy is a myth? Yet, by my using these examples maybe I am putting God in the same category, which will not truly defend my beliefs. I am by no means a child believing in some magical entity. I am an adult who has given much reflection and study to define my own spirituality and determine who or what to believe. And I believe in Christianity, in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, Mary as the Blessed Mother, the Saints, the whole bit. I do believe that much of the Bible was distorted and some important texts were omitted and altered. But the fact that these texts were even found is, in itself a miracle and only proves that maybe this was God's way of having the truth come out.
What is the difference, really, between an atheist and a skeptic? An atheist is defined as a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings. Part of the definition of a skeptic is a person who doubts the truth of a religion, esp. Christianity, or of important elements of it. And for the record, an agnostic is defined as a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. So the main difference between these three labels is that atheism is flat out saying 'no, no way' while skeptics and agnostics leave a little wiggle room for the possibility, exhibited by the words 'doubt' and 'unknown'. The only way an atheist can become a believer is if there is definitive proof of the existence of God, a skeptic would need some evidence to remove all doubt, and the only way an agnostic can believe is if the existence of God becomes known, which, like the other three would result from proof or evidence. But isn't faith believing without total proof? And wouldn't the atheists, skeptics, and agnostics still question the validity of the evidence? Look at the people who don't believe the Holocaust ever happened. There is evidence, there is proof yet they don't believe it. I think there are some people who, no matter what will choose to stubbornly deny things in order to be right or to be so narrow minded that no other opinion but their own can be the truth.
I may someday read Dawkin's book, borrowing it from the library as I don't wish to put money in the pocket of someone so aggressive in his disbelief.
All I'm asking is for tolerance towards one another, and keeping an open mind. I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the end your right to an opinion. Just don't force your opinion on me.
UPDATE: Here is an article that shows the increase in popularity of atheism:http://businesslogs.com/web_20/digg_and_youtube_powering_atheism_20.php