Oh, man am I SOOOO sick of the "Atheism is a Religion", meme. If atheism is a religion, then NOT collecting stamps is a hobby, and bald is a hair color.
You could never get away with the stupid shit people say about Atheism if it WERE a religion. Try telling a Muslim that they actually worship the Moon god or some such other bullshit and see how far it gets you. And yet every time I'm in a conversation about religion, people try to tell me what I think.
Listen up, Atheism is NOT having faith in the idea that there is an absence of a god. No faith is required except the kind you use every day: the faith in your ability to perceive the world around you and make conclusions from those perceptions. Atheists don't believe in God the same way we don't believe that there is a cosmic doughnut floating somewhere between the earth and the sun, or invisible, intangible pink unicorns are living in our closet.
Both the dougnut and the unicorns are currently untestable ideas, but we don't have to suspend judgment on weather or not they're there. You can reject them out of hand because there's no evidence to suggest them, and there are plenty of things that we DO know by the merit of evidence that conflict with the Doughnut/Unicorn theory that we can say both are wrong with confidence.
So what does God have to do with Dougnuts and Unicorns? He's quite a bit more unlikely.
The Cosmic doughnut is, in principle, verifiable/defeatable claim. All we have to do to know for sure that there is or isn't a doughnut floating in space somewhere between the Earth and the Sun and we're set. But in the practicality of it it's impossible to test. The size of the space we're looking in compared to the size of the doughnut means that even if we knew within 99% accuracy of where the doughnut should be we'd never find it. And we don't have to waste our time trying. We know that a Doughnut is man-made and that it's stupid to think someone wasted secretly launched one into space and it established a hidden solar orbit.
God is like the doughnut because he too in principle, is a testable claim, people say life is SO complicated it MUST have been intelligently designed. If that's true, all we have to do it find the "Joe T. Deus" signature somewhere on us and Presto! Proof of god. That signature just has to be something in nature that works as is but less complicated forms couldn't. Like a Wheel. You'll never find animals on wheels because when you take a wheel apart it's individual pieces are useless. Have we found rollycats? No. Also intelligent design is absurd, if were WERE intelligently designed, why our our sinuses such a ridiculous mess? If they were a strait drainage chamber from our ears to our nose no-one would EVER get sinus headaches. And our spines are weirdly curved to let us walk upright, why not just straight up and down? And what the hell is an Appendix for?
Science has answers for these questions, God doesn't.
God is also like the Unicorns because he's a logical paradox. The Unicorns are Invisible, intangible, and pink. HOW the hell can they be PINK if they're INVISIBLE? And while they live in my Closet, by merit of their invisi-intangibility I will never see or touch them, but people claim that I should think that they're there?
Like I said in a Myspace Blog that I have yet to edit and post here:
God, by the common definition is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. Within this definition alone we can find a HEAP of problems, some more mentally-masturbatory (Can he make a rock he can't lift? If he knows what he's going to do next Tuesday at 3:26am can he really change his mind? Etc.) some more real and, in my opinion far more compelling (the problem of Evil & Suffering)
For Richard Dawkins, the big clincher is "Ok, if everything was made by God, where did he come from?" That's a real hum-dinger -though not the only one. No theologian I've ever hear of has ever produced a satisfactory answer, the leading bullshit responses are variations of 'It's turtles all the way down!!' or 'cuz'.
But for my money, the problem with god I can never get past is the problem of Evil. If there were an omnipotent father-figure up in the sky, how can he allow so much suffering here on earth? The favorite answer of the theologian is 'free will' but surely SIDS, earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes have nothing to do with a choice anyone has made here on earth. And if it's as Pat Robertson and other assholes love to claim, a punishment meted out for some misdeed of other (usually something done in the bedrooms of consenting adults) then why cant he cut back a little on the 'collateral damage' and perhaps own up to the abuse he (back)hands down to his children on earth?
Either god is A) Not all-powerful and apparently very busy, so some evil gets though.
B) Not all-good but rather nucking futz and an evil child-abusing bastard.
C) Not there at all, and these things are a result of the natural structure of the world we live in and the best thing to do is learn how they work and how we can deal with them.
Of the three, C is the answer that makes the most sense to me. It also inspires me, we as human beings have a great thing going. And if we don't screw it up, we might just be able to keep it going forever, or at least a really, really long time.