Imagine yourself in the midst of a great city, surrounded by people of all kinds. Above you is a bright, beautiful blue sky. You turn to a person near you and say: “Isn’t that a beautiful blue sky?” and the person just looks at you funny and walks hurriedly away. Confused, you turn to the next person and ask why the other person reacted so strangely to your comment about the blue sky.
“Blue? My friend, the sky is green. Can’t you see? It’s completely green in every respect.”
Dumbfounded, you stand there, unbelieving. Is it possible that your eyes are damaged in some way? What could you be missing here? The person smiles a comforting grin at you, as if placating a child, and walks away. You pull a dollar bill from your pocket – you know for a fact that your money is green, and it is not the color of the sky. You walk to the park, and you see trees, and grass, and yes, those things are green. Obviously. You look from the tree to the sky and back again, and there is very clearly a difference in color. There are a lot of people enjoying the day in the park, and you go up to a man who is wearing a green hat and a green tie, and you ask: “Sir, please, can you tell me what color that tree is?”
“Well it is quite plainly a green tree.”
“And the grass?”
“Green as well.”
“And what color is the sky?”
The green wearing man looks back at you with a smoldering look in his eyes. “Look sonny. I know where this is going, so don’t even bother. I’ve been persecuted my whole life because I follow the path! The sky is green, and that is that.”
“But you’re wearing a green hat and tie!”
“They’re not the same color as the sky!”
“I don’t feel like debating this,” the man sighs, “because I know the truth.” By this time, another man has come by and shouts at the man wearing the hat: “You’re a fool! You think the sky is sea green, when it can only be forest green. Why can’t you accept this??”
The two men argue, and it becomes quite heated. You step back, again incredulous at the exchange. The men eventually come to blows, and people around them start gathering, but no one moves to stop them. You look around and desperately grab someone and say: “Please! Please tell me that you can see the sky is blue!”
And the person you grabbed looks at you and wavers and says “Well… what does it matter anyway? Why not just follow everyone else and call the sky green? A lot of other people say the sky is green… so, you know, just in case those people are right, I say it’s green too. It’s better that way.”
This is what it’s like to be an atheist.