I recently had one of those inevitable FB discussions with some right-wing conservative Christians in which I was lumped in with atheists. I tried to explain that my lack of religion is no more a rejection of a deity than an independent voter's lack of party association is a rejection of government.
Here's part of that discussion in which I explain how my appreciation for the vastness of time and space tends to make it difficult for me to accept any form of religion as we know it:
Many people don't quite understand why people make a conscious decision to not identify with or follow a particular religion -- or no religion at all. Most of us did not reach this point without a great deal of contemplation. Many of us simply can't reconcile any of the existing religions with our understanding of the cosmos -- not with good conscience, anyway. We are not bad people. Morality can and does exist outside of religion.
|13.8 billion years condensed into a calendar year|
To discount such an acknowledgment is to deny the realities of the history of the cosmos and any and all life within it. We're a tiny blip on the timeline of the cosmos, as well as on the map of the cosmos, which contains at least 300 sextillion suns. That is a 3 followed by 23 zeros.
Perspective is a good thing.
I don't deny the existence of a deity. I simply acknowledge the reality of the vastness of time and space, and logic dictates that one religion which has only existed for a very brief sliver of time on one of billions (trillions, more?) of potential life-supporting planets, is probably not the one 'true' brand of religion. If it is, it's a very strange thing for a deity to do -- to drop a needle in an infinite haystack -- the one needle that will guarantee eternal life -- yet it is only available to the tiniest sliver of living beings (and only a portion of those, since many of them follow another religion due to geographical and historical influences, heritage, etc.), who happen to live on this one very extra-special planet (one of sextillions, likely many more) during an incredibly minuscule sliver of time -- also, let's drop this nugget on a small group of isolated desert-dwelling people who don't (can't) write things down.
If you were a deity, that would maybe be the absolute worst way possible to inform a cosmos (which you created) about your existence. It's hard to imagine that a deity, if he/she/it exists, would be that short-sighted, or that bad at marketing him/herself.
And if a deity made it possible for me to think logically about these things and it led me to being open-minded about the possibility of other paths of being a moral creature in this world, and I honestly gave it a good go for a good decade and a half, and continue to be as moral and ethical as I was then, why would he/she/it punish me eternally? Wouldn't he/she/it appreciate a well lived life of philosophical contemplation, empathy, and a determination to reduce suffering?