In her piece on atheist extremism, self avowed Jewess Melinda Barton makes a good case for illuminating the fears and concerns of the devout, however ridiculous and based in nonsense they may be. It is precisely this sort of dramatic posturing that breeds fundamentalism and makes pariahs of the faithless, all of whom really just want to live a good life on their own terms without it having to affect the status quo. Fundamentalists are stunningly hypocritical, blissfully ignorant (if not outright stupid), and wholly baseless on every issue imaginable in deference to anything that isn't a carbon copy of themselves. Fundamentalism is an insidious form of sickness, not unlike Alzheimer's disease, attacking and destroying logic and converting an otherwise reasonable person into an automaton nourished on completely hysterical paranoia. Laid bare another way, not all assholes are fundamentalists, but certainly it can be argued that all fundamentalists are assholes.
I have personally spent countless hours musing over religious subtext, dogmatic law, theological teachings, scripture, and essays/articles/books that are at times scathingly critical of it all. Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Smith, J. Krishnamurti, Aleister Crowley, Anton Lavey, even Camille Paglia and Simone De Beauvoir - both of whom have made observational criticisms of the how and why people believe. As with all critics, philosophers, academics, even mystics and outright con men - there are elements in their assertions where the whole of it comes off as something close to religious fervor, some ascension towards higher belief, a light on a path for us to walk. I personally cannot find the total of anything I've read to be wholly digestible, but that's my nature as a skeptic. I glean from this stuff the things that resonate with me and that I can accept, the rest is inconsequential. That is not to say it is without merit on some level, just that if it doesn't wash then it doesn't wash.
AND YET STILL, this is not why I don't believe in God. It does reinforce my non belief, and it is absolutely what drives my dislike of all self righteous, sanctimonious sheeple - and especially my incendiary hatred of fundamentalist preachers. I don't believe in God quite simply because I think that even the mere idea of God is ridiculous, intangible, and incapable of being proven real by evidentiary support and/or fact. This notion that a truly omnipotent deity that loves humanity but allows for such suffering, conveniently (and also weakly) relegated to "His Plan", and I think that it is anything but divine. Put simply, I have no reason to believe.
I began reading up on Positive Atheism in my late teens. I flew between different philosophies and read as much as I could find in the way of defending my thoughts, as I grew up in the bible belt and trying to achieve intelligent conversations with the general populace was challenging. The thing that most intrigues me about faith is what propels people to believe or not believe.
If you believe in God, why do you believe? If you don't believe in God, why not? Comments welcomed by anyone and everyone.