I have to admit it is difficult to openly admit that one is an atheist because there it seems there is a strong resentment by believers toward non believers. Some believers speak of “a war on christianity”. Yet, A church sits on nearly every corner, the influence of christianity is rife in American ambiance, and, most Christians associate non belief with immorality.
Nonetheless, I am certainly a skeptic This is because, I am convinced that there are too many more plausable explanations for many of the Christian propositions of faith. Christianity arose in a manner quite consistent with historic development of other bodies of theugical beliefs. 2000 years ago when Christianity replaced paganism, it was in a superstitious era, the replacement was gradual occurring over several centuries, and it was through a political context and via the sponsorship of Constantine, Theodosious and Justinian. Early Christianity borrowed heavily from pagan practices and struggled with intellectual rationales to come to terms with its doctrines much as paganism did. And once Christinanity had deep roots in Europe, the same persecutions of heritics occurred as occurred under the pagans. Its its earliest periods, as it seperated from Judeoism, it persecuted the Jews as well as heretics under Justinian. Fervent mobs of Christians burned the liabrary at Alexandria. Whatever tolerance practiced by Constantine was lost to later emperors who mid wifed Christianity into the European experience. Of course, once possessed of political backing and might, then it ushered in the brutality of the inquisitions, crusades, witch burnings, the impatience with science for which Galileo paid at least a modest price.
Not that the Christian faith in its origins was any worse or better than Islam’s brutality (which seems now to be in full flower). Nor of the pagans who insisted that the traditional gods be honored and venerated lest the apostates cause the anger of the gods. So, there has never been tolerance by any side. Some beliefs wax and wane with their cruelity, manifesting depending pretty much on how much political power any one set manages to garner. Each expresses brutality with various degrees of fervor at differing times, but, always there is intolerance.
Now as for skeptics…like myself? Skepticism is an absence of belief–it is not belief. It is the withholding of a judgment on a particular proposition until compelling proof causes a different disposition. It is tolerant of any proposition that makes sense and is given credit until it it is shown to be implausable. I am a skeptic as to the question of whether there is life on Mars, and, will be skeptical of that proposition until evidence is demonstrated. I am tolerant of the idea that there may be life there. I simply do not know.However, I tend to discount claims that make no sense. To that extent I tend to be less tolerant because I like to think one should not “suffer fools gladly” For example. the proposition that UFO’s have visited the earth previously and abducted citizens makes little sense to believe because there are much much more plausable explanations for lights in the sky or why some folks might sincerely believe they were taken up by aliens and experimented upon. Psychotic episodes, after all, are more likely than aliens who visit, conduct experiments, leave no physcal trace and without corroborating evidence. I suppose one would have to have what some call “faith” to believe the contrary.
Thus, as a skeptic, I think the possibilities for the existence of a personal God is rather remote. Even so, I greatly appreciate the fact that there are mysteries abounding in the cosmos. The implications arising from an apparently rational universe cries out for an explanation, but, imbuing this mystery with a personality is an anthropomorphic conceit, it seems to me. Consider, for example how ordered and rational is mathematics—but mathematics is not a person. If there were an intelligence that governs the cosmos then why make it into a person? What compelling explanation is there for such a phenonomen? So on this issue I am a skeptic.