> What I don't understand is why many atheists
> think they are very smart and anyone who
> believes in God is stupid. There's simply no
> evidence for that.
I think it has to do with their greater-than-average scientific knowledge and something to do with the mentally liberating experience of "free-thought" which atheists experience more than theists do. They realize that they no longer have to think about the universe with their more rational thought processes but deal with religion with their less (or ir)rational thought processes. They can think about everything--- nature, Santa Claus, Mom's cooking, God---with the same rational thought processes. As a former religious scientist, I dealt pretty well with this "separate compartments" problem, I thought, but I feel much relieved that I no longer have to.
I have to watch myself when I treat religious people as idiots, because I didn't think I was an idiot when I was a believer. I often feel embarrassed that I let myself be fooled for so long. Obviously, theists are not all idiots. It's a psychological phenomenon why well educated, otherwise rational beings would retain such irrationally-based beliefs.
> The problem with religion is that it's really
> hard to explain what it is all about.
How do you explain irrational beliefs using reason? It's hard, I know. I tried to do it for years. If there is no God it is SO EASY to explain everything.
> Atheists and fundamentalists seem to think it's
> about the literal accuracy of scriptures; most
> people don't see it that way.
Some atheists think that. I think most atheists understand it's more than that. The scriptures are an easy target for the atheists and an important pillar of comfort to the fundamentalists.
> It's enlightening to watch John's obsession
> with the truth about Jesus and Nazareth, as if > most people cared about that. With all due
> respect, he obviously has no idea what goes in
> the mind of a religious person.
It's frustrating, but what you say is true about Christians and Nazareth. Most Christians don't seem to care if Nazareth ever existed or if Augustus ever ordered the absurd "Go Home Tax and Census" or any limited number of falsehoods which exist in the religious mythology. They don't go through with the reasonable thoughts: "The biblical writers made this up. The biblical writers could have made up the whole thing. My belief in Jesus and God is without rational foundation." They put it off. They think "I know Jesus exists because I've felt His power in my life." That's why so many atheists think theists are idiots, they don't think it through.
I'm finding the same is true about Mormons and DNA evidence. Mormons believe the Book of Mormon represents the true history of the American Indians. Recent DNA evidence shows that the American Indians descend from Mongolians, not from Semitic Israelites like the Book of Mormon teaches. Do Mormons care? Some do and reject the evidence as being "false science". Others don't care. They just cubbyhole the problem in some part of their brain as something they can't understand, yet. Will it cause them to rethink their beliefs? Surprisingly, seldom. They KNOW the church and teachings are true because they've felt the power of God in their lives and have repeated their beliefs in Testimony meeting for so many years that they know the Book of Mormon is true. This is why so many atheists think theists are idiots, they don't think it through.
I was a religious person for most of my life. I know that kind of thought process better than that of the atheist. I certainly don't know all different kinds of religious thought processes, just those I experienced and faced as a Mormon.