Atheism - It is remarkable how many people insist I am not an atheist

It is remarkable how many people insist I am not an atheist. It seems obvious to me that I do not believe that any god exists, and that makes me an atheist. Nevertheless, here these people are, so insistent that I cannot possibly be an atheist. "You're too nice," they say, or "You really believe, you just don't know it." (How's that again?) Sometimes I hear something like "You believe in something, and that is really God" or "you are still looking, but you'll find Him." (He is invited to stop by my house at any time.) When I have the time to converse with these people, however, it usually comes down to this: I am really an agnostic, they say, because I am willing to admit that I do not know there is not any god. It is apparently so important for people to believe that I am "really just an agnostic," that I find this to be a haunting sign of the hold religion has on people. It is tragic that the mere thought of a good friend or relative being an actual, avowed atheist is so horrible that it must be denied.

Sometimes I have the chance to explain that I am an atheist not because I know there is not a god, but because I do not believe there is. If someone insisted that their pet fish could talk, I really couldn't say I knew it didn't, especially if I could not go and see for myself, but it would still be fair for me to say that there are no talking fish. The relevance of this is that I do not believe god exists any more than I believe fish can talk. Certainly, I have not examined all species of fish, nor every single fish for that matter, nor could I ever accomplish such a feat, but the claim that they exist is so contrary to my own personal experience and reliable facts that I simply will not believe it unless very definitive proof is provided. Of course, if I visit someone's pet fish and it talks to me, I am still wiser to test the possibilities of trickery or insanity before believing it can really talk. But if I found many fish that talked, trustworthy people confirmed it, scientists published carefully researched papers about them, and newspaper headlines read "INCREDIBLE DISCOVERY: TALKING FISH!" then it would be more than reasonable to believe that they existed. No one really disputes such common sense, until it is applied to religion.

I have never seen or talked to a god, nor seen a god do anything unmistakably godlike. People insist that they know one exists, but most of them really say they only feel it, and do not offer any other proof. Indeed, it is odd that even the believers brand those few who honestly offer the more genuine proof of actually hearing god talk insane, Believers are probably right about that, but their own "feeling" that a god exists isn't any more convincing to me. Anyone might "feel" that fish could talk, but that

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