Re: Collective Delusion.
@Stevie, et al:
I looked up the definition of religion and found it wanting. For the first time in memory, the OED disappointed. Previous definitions that I was familiar with made a subtle distinction between belief and worship, and organized ritual practice, with the latter being a key attribute of religion..
That this is a useful distinction seems clear, given the long history of different sects who believe in and worship the same God slaughtering one another under different religious banners. But, the OED, being divinely inspired and inerrant . . .
Atheism is not a religion, but it is--in a very real sense--a theological position. (Namely, that there ain't no Theos.) This is a position that a rational person can take. However, other theological positions can also be rationally taken.
In that regard the statement
The real difference (for me) between anyone's religion and my atheism is that I *never* stop to say "this event could only be possible in the complete absence of a creator"
strikes me as less a statement of difference between believer and atheist than a fine distinction between authoritarian fundamentalism (on either side) and willingness to confront what Einstein characterized as "the central mystery" of the universe on its own terms. As a general rule, I've found most atheists to be of a fundamentalist mindset, asserting proof for the non-existence of anything transcending human knowledge. Nice to learn that there is a more open-minded breed of atheist out there.
I think on the whole the normal distribution of humankind tends to the authoritarian end of the scale. Their belief in the authority is categorical proof of the rightness of their belief. (See [St. Paul] [Dawkins] says right there that . . . ) As a result they tend to be the most numerous and loudest voices in any theological debate.
This tends to drown out the voices of millions who are open to wonder and to the idea that there may be mysteries that transcend human understanding. (Not talking New Age crystals, here. Rather, those unanswerable whys Stevie raises--Schoedinger's Cat is dead, but WHY did it die? We can't know and that's a main point of that thought experiment.)
That's why, without being evangelical on the point, it seems to me that devout agnosticism is the most constructive metaphysical position to assume.