The mixture of incredulity and contempt with which [the interviewer] keeps asking questions that are to the effect of, "Seriously, you want to say that the God that gives all these people meaning isn’t there??? How can you dare say that???"
Which represents a common sentiment, against which I give a frustrated sigh and silently respond:
Religion has never given anybody's life meaning. Religion has only given people the illusion of meaning, but real meaning can never come from an imaginary God.
In response to this one might say, But there is no meaning without God. If God is imaginary, and the meaning that comes from God is imaginary, then meaning itself does not exist.
Have you ever been in love? I have. The happiness and well-being of my spouse has a great deal of meaning to me.
Writing this blog, and all that goes in it, has meaning, I hope. I can only hope because the meaning to be found in writing this blog is in its contribution to making the world a better place than it would have otherwise been. I must acknowledge the possibility that my claims are wrong and my writings do more harm than good. However, there is a difference between the possibility of real meaning and the near certainty of imaginary meaning that religion provides.
We do not have children. However, to say that, to the parent of a child that the welfare of the child has no meaning is an absurdity.
Now, imagine, if you will, a set of parents devoted to raising an imaginary child. They shout for the child to get out of bed first thing in the morning and they set breakfast on the table. They clean the child’s bedroom – though this is such a well-behaved child that he keeps his own room very clean. They do his laundry, though they have not been able to figure out why the child must be folding his dirty laundry back up and putting it in the drawer. They meet with their child’s teachers. The child, of course, goes to a special school – a school whose administrators have found is profit in 'teaching' these imaginary children.
One of the things about these parents is that they do an amazingly good job of covering up for the fact that this child is not real.
They come up with excuses for everything.
Why is it that the child does not eat breakfast? Well, he must be eating at school.
Why is it that you have never seen this child? Come now. Of course I have seen my child. I feel his presence right now. Just this afternoon I caught a glimpse of him as he ran in the back door and up to his room. In fact, I heard him up there just a few minutes ago.
And if you take the parent up to the room, open the door, and see that the child is not there and the room is exactly as it was left that morning, then, He must have gone out again when I wasn't looking, and he has always been a very neat little boy.
What amazes many atheists who are not caught up in this delusion is that talking to a person who insists on the presence of God is just like talking to the parent of the imaginary child above.
Of course, part of the reason for this is that the imaginary child has been made the most important thing in the world to these parents. There is nothing that these parents will not do – no sacrifice that is too great – for their imaginary child. This is why they cannot give up the idea that their child exists, and this is why they grab so tenaciously to the rationalizations and excuses to get around the evidence that there is no child.
The ultimate argument being, of course, that, "You cannot prove that my child does not exist."
Which is true. All I can provide is that there is no evidence to show that the child does exist.
Then, when the author of a book called, The Child Delusion goes on the air to talk about his new book (a different book), the interviewer asks with a mixture of incredulity and contempt, "Seriously, you want to say that the children that gives all these people meaning aren't there??? How can you dare say that???"
Not only is it the case that the children in this example do not exist, the meaning and purpose are just as imaginary as the children. Insofar as these parents are finding meaning and purpose in their imaginary children, they are not finding any real meaning or purpose at all.
Some of them may also have real children or other real-world concerns. Many have real spouses in which they have really fallen in love, and real friends and family with which they have shared their real lives. Some have real-world concerns to feel real people who are really hungry, and to provide real medical care to people who are really sick or injured.
In these cases, the time and effort they devote to their imaginary children are even more of a waste, because that is time and effort that they could otherwise spend doing something of real importance.
However, all the real meaning and purpose is to be found in the real-world. Nothing ever done for the sake of an imaginary child or an imaginary God has ever provided anything but imaginary meaning and imaginary purpose.