I've just made a big decision. I'm no longer an atheist. My stand against religion is simply not sustainable. It's defeated me.
It's just too absurd that a person should be defined by what he doesn't believe in, rather than what he does. Nonsensical, in fact. And since God is just one of many things I don't believe in, I've now become an apifflist.
For people who don't know about apifflism, let me explain...
The world's population is pretty much divided into two. On one side there are people who believe in piffle. On the other side there are apifflists, who don't.
Atheists are defined by not believing in God. My list is longer than that.
I don't believe in the earth monster who lives in the centre of the world and causes earthquakes every time he sneezes. Nor do I believe in his brother the fire monster who causes volcanos to erupt every time he belches. Nor in their cousin George the super-sized purple chicken who lives in the sky and causes it to rain whenever he pecks the clouds. Nor in Father Christmas. Nor in the tooth fairy. Nor in ghosts, seances, palmistry, Old Moore's Almanack, magic potions, miracles, or God. In other words, I don't believe in piffle. Which makes me an apifflist.
What got me started on all this was a particularly nasty column by the Telegraph's religious correspondent, Tim Stanley. In it he called Richard Dawkins 'an arrogant chimp' 'a talking monkey' and 'a coward', simply because Dawkins had dismissed the idea of having a debate with American evangelist William Lane Craig.
Craig calls himself a philosophical theologian and Christian apologist. Alternatively you could call him a brain-tangled, logic-crushing, re-interpreter of science who steam-rolls over reason and "proves" the existence of God by quoting fairytales from the Bible. To put it bluntly, he talks piffle. But with good oratory.
In one of his debates, Craig justified an Old Testament story in which God ordered the massacre of a city of heathens, by saying, "We must not forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven's incomparable joy."
Richard Dawkins decided he would be unable to debate logically with a man whose brain was so severely piffled, though he found a more polite way to put it.
Tim Stanley's piece, sneering at Dawkins' decision, was snide and intolerant. So much so, I decided to go to his blog and find out more about him, which is where I found this gem...
"When I have children - and so help me God, I will have a million - I will indoctrinate them all in The Faith. I'll bludgeon them into it with Sunday school and prayers at nighttime. I'll have them memorizing Psalms and spitting at the Heathen that live across the street."
Take it with a pinch of salt, perhaps, but it's the perfect description of "piffling the innocent". How to turn children into little bigots; teaching them morality by rote, not by social understanding. They'll grow up thinking they know right from wrong yet all they've done is learn it like a maths table.
In his column, Tim Stanley went on to complain that "The most frustrating thing about the New Atheism is that it rarely debates theology on theology's own terms."
Nor should it. Because there's no logical argument to be had with anyone where religion is concerned. And although Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens are forever giving it a try, they're wrong to do so.
People with piffled minds have no understanding of logic. They respond to fact with fable, to data with dogma, to morality with myth. Their belief in whichever of the world's great piffles has infected their brains blocks their ability to reason clearly or to accept scientific and historical fact; all of which makes them impossible to argue with. Even if you're Richard Dawkins.
Perhaps, following his refusal to debate William Craig, we'll see Dawkins moving away from his strictly atheist stance to re-define himself under the broader term, apifflist.
I hope so.