The problem I have with celebrity atheists like Richard Dawkins and his ilk is the way they try to get their point across. Apart from the usual condescension that comes from their supposed erudition, they ridicule everything associated with faith and push their atheistic beliefs(yes, the irony !) that sometimes makes it hard to differentiate them from their sworn enemies, the religious fundamentalists. It almost looks like the sole purpose of this breed today is to provoke a reaction by pissing the masses off and outrage when it receives its share of abuse. Not surprisingly, Dawkins is often accused of being a preacher at best and a militant atheist at worst.
The definition of God has evolved with civilization. Initially, we were scared of night, day gave us comfort, we worshiped sun. With time, we discovered the fire, invented agriculture, started depending less on the Sun, started establishing societies. Each society set its own norms, rights and wrongs and we elected leaders. The rights and wrongs were different based on society’s own experiences that were fundamental to co-existence. Leader or a king was an enforcer of the rights and wrongs, but we needed someone at the very top to complete the hierarchy. It is here that God takes the place. It is a social requirement primal to maintain social order and sustain civilizations.
It is easy for atheists like myself to see through the fallacies of faith practiced by many. Creation is real, visible, why do we have to assume there was a creator? It is totally possible that creation was a process triggered by the unknown, more like an equation or an execution of a computer program. When the creation is of a magnitude immeasurable by mankind, why the assumption that like a programmer behind a program, there is someone pulling the strings from behind. We are inadvertently humanizing God/Creator(if any) by assuming he/she/it exists or has to exist for creation to have taken place and assigning emotions like anger, forgiveness,bribery etc. and expecting a transactional relationship like quid-pro-quo which are all human emotions and acts respectively. It is this paradox which is baffling and often seems nonsensical to atheists.
Despite what appears to be sound logic to disbelieve religious faith and worship, good things happen, shit happens. When shit happens, atheists hope for the good, which is essentially surrendering to entropy of the universe, people of religious faith having the same weaknesses and feeling the same amount of helplessness, choose to acknowledge their lack of control by praying, promising to do good things etc. If the net outcome of the whole exercise is goodness exhibited by the individuals, I fail to understand why atheists of the Dawkinsian variety have a problem with this. God is an essential public good is how I see this.
Atheists often blame religion for the countless wars and killings we have indulged ourselves in. Even though, religion is and was the centerpiece in many wars, the causation is debatable. This point is as poor as the conclusion that godlessness caused the Communists’ downfall in Russia. My personal opinion is that men often felt the need for wars either for control, insecurities or egos and would have waged them anyways , religion or not. On the contrary, societies without religion, but just rules would be non-sustaining and collapse into chaos.
On a personal note, I was raised a Hindu, grew to be a non-believer late in my teens due to my own experiences. I know lots of people who derive strength and feel good by visiting temples, praying and believing that there is someone to look out for them. When I am in a crisis is when I feel very lonely, for I have no one to blame and nothing to pray for, but blame myself or the uncontrollable universal equations. But I had a choice, I chose to not believe. It is only fair that the future generation has that choice to make it when they come of age.