Why they bug me so much
For reasons too boring to go into, I spent some time today considering how I would explain my aversion to religious types to some reasonably intelligent person who didn't share it. Indeed, I can respect people who aren't as averse to the god-monkies, because I realize that while my disbelief is a rational thing, the intensity of my feeling about that disbelief is emotional, and the result of events in my life rather than merely common sense. So anyway, how would I explain to someone who didn't share my feelings why I do believe as I do, and to the extent that I do? Well, here it is.
Morality springs from choice. If I throw a rock at someone, that act has moral meaning. If a rock rools down a hill and hits someone, it has no moral meaning- the event was random. So as long as you're an atheist, things like hurricanes, plagues, and earthquakes have no moral meaning- they're ranom, horrible events. We can lament them, try to protect ourselves against them, but we can't talk about them in terms of good and evil, because those terms simply don't apply. If you're not an atheist- if you think there is a big thingy in the sky pulling all the strings, choosing for all of those events to occur, or at least choosing not to prevent them, then those events take on a moral character. That is to say, they become evil acts. Sure, you can point to some natural events, like the existence of life itself, and say, 'well, here is some good stuff to balance that out'. But that simply doesn't cut it. Being the progenitor of life does not justify the endless cruelty in which life is forced to exist. If there were a creator, then the acts attributable to that being would contain so much evil, that describing that being as anything other than pure evil or utterly inhuman would be absurd. But that is precisely what religious people do- they put this being at the centre of their morality, and claim it is the source of all good. It is this moral absurdity that makes me so disgusted by religion and those who embrace it.