Okay, belief-wise. Here is a question I have. As a non-believer.
Religions sprang up by the many hundreds back in the old days. Very localized religions at first, then some of them spread via conquest. Others stayed local or died out. Christianity was spread by a variety of means, and so here I am in America, thousands of miles from the Middle East, and yet Christianity predominates.
Not counting scientologists and a few of the newer Christian sects, such as Mormons, Christian Scientists, Seventh Day Adventists, etc, Christianity and the other surviving religions are very old. Old in the sense that nothing new has been added by their gods in recent centuries. In recent millennia, for that matter. Which means that when a Christian asks me to become a believer, he or she is asking me to accept some rather far-fetched tales if I am shape-shift into a believer. Of course, the level of implausibility varies. Some Christians tell me that the earth is 6,000 years old and that not only have we had literal talking snakes, but literal floods and literal man-eating whales. Other Christians tell me that those particular stories are often allegory or metaphor or aimed low for the uneducated masses, and oft-times those Christians accept the scientific dating of the universe and our planet and merely insist that their God was involved.
I became an atheist in around 1962 when I realized that the Bible stories from church sounded pretty much like the Greek and Roman myths I was being taught in grade school. I had gone to a community church for several years when I was a bit younger, and calmly accepted the existence of a God simply because adults were telling me that he was real. But once I saw the similarities between what Christians were telling me and what Romans and Greeks were telling me, along with a variety of other myth sources, I concluded that the God story was just as ancient, and just as silly.
Fast-forward to now. I just checked the RSS feed of one of the science news sites I follow. I checked it before bed last night and clicked everything as read. Fourteen hours later I have 74 new science stories. A quick perusal tells me that palm oil plantations are isolating ant colonies and eliminating their natural territorial overlap, that scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider are about to present the latest results at a conference, that Hubble has found something else new and that Australia’s climate is heating up ridiculously fast thanks to global climate change.
In the meantime, my friend George is still very upset because I’m not saved, hence he believes I’ll spend all of eternity in hell. An afterlife he cannot detail other than telling me it will include free brimstone. Nor can he detail heaven, though he’s pretty sure the streets will be paved with gold. And that's about all he has to say. One thing a day, at best.
So while some Christians are asking me to believe what sounds like a myth just in case it is true, science and my reality in general coast along nicely without having to include a god in the mix. So what possible reason do I have to start believing one specific religion, and one specific interpretation within that religion? You have a god that stopped interacting with the locals 2,000 years ago and who, if I am to believe believers, loves me or else. While in real life, I have an actual world that doesn’t appear to need, let alone reflect the existence of, any god whatsoever. And in the meantime, far better explanations for many of lifes mysteries have been provided by people who were more curious about reality than they were about stories. And they tell me about what they’ve found daily. And while I’m pretty sure Edwin O. Wilson, Lawrence Krauss and other currently living scientific researchers don’t love me specifically, They share a common appreciation of the universe with me, which is far more fulfilling than a semi-dead child who fulfilled his fathers ambitions by, as I see it, taking a long nap then flying away.
Why should a non-believer believe? I see no evidence that any of the stories from any of the religions that make claims about gods and the children of gods and half-human/half god gods, or any other possible combination that involves deities, is true. I don’t yet know which version of Christianity you adhere to, so I can’t yet be more specific. But why should I believe?
And if one religion is true, how the heck am I supposed to sort it out from all the false stories if the true story sounds exactly like the others?
Just to let you know, I’m not the slightest bit interested in personal salvation and living forever, unless someone can prove, by my standards, that toasting forever is definitely my fate. And having seen absolutely no sign that it is, I’m not in the mood to play games based on the minimal chance that any of it is real. Which means that the oft-repeated phrase “But Jesus LOVES YOU” is of no value. You’ll need to think of something else if you want my rumored soul.