Life is a struggle and the struggle does give validity to life and my viewpoint.
Both camps will point the finger at the other camp and cry persecution! Both camps have their crisis of faith. Both camps will struggle within their faith.
I've been in both camps and it is easier to not believe in a god and not worry about the moral implications than it is to believe in a god and know that in the fullness of time the wrath of God's holiness will judge an unholy humanity. I do not care to consider the horrors of the nonexistence and emptiness felt when banished from the love of the Master because of inexcusable disobedience.
I was religious once, a long time ago, back when I was a child. It was an interesting experience. I did worry about the strength of my faith because it was always paltry compared to the faith that others possessed. I remember when I took communion for the first time I was concerned that I didn't "believe enough" and as a result I would be punished by god for taking part in such a sacrosanct ceremony. That was pretty horrifying.
Then I became an atheist, and I felt as if I saw the light. I was practically a born again atheist, I had fun telling people things like "god doesn't exist" and I never really considered the implications of that and how it affected me, as much as I reveled in putting down other people's points of view now that I knew there wasn't an airtight basis for them (unlike what I was taught to believe in church and by my religious parents). It was a reactionary period where I lashed out emotionally over the betrayal of trust I experienced by everyone I went to church with in how certain they all sounded when in the end they were simply spouting the gospel they learned in the same way they were trying to implant it into me.
Finally, I became an agnostic. I realized that as an atheist I was reactionary, angry, and definitely not helping the cause of lessening the suffering in the world due to religion (or gaining acceptance/tolerance for myself). This was the hardest position of all for me, because I found myself stuck between two camps of fervent believers being the person waving the flag of "I don't know" while trying to convince other people to moderate their confidence in their own ideology.
I wouldn't stop there, eventually I became an agnostic-skeptic, which requires even more. No longer is it acceptable for me to rest on a particular viewpoint, now I have to constantly question my own assumptions and the logic behind every decision I make. I want to remain objective and open to all possibilities because it's the best way to actually end making the right choice and believing the right things in the end. The problem is, that constant self-questioning is very exhausting, and it sometimes does mean having to change my point of view. This is taken as a sign of weakness, uncertainty, or a lack of intelligence often, especially in today's culture where certainty (religious and otherwise) are practically virtues. As a society we practically worship people of great faith; that stubborn unwillingness to see the faults in their own views and to try and doubt/detach has became a badge of honor. It is the opposite of objectivity and the essence of bias.
Never settling, always questioning, and being willing to change your point of view also changes the focus of debate. It's not about winning or losing, it's a search for the truth. A lot of people feel a smug sense of superiority when they profess their beliefs, and I don't have that luxury. Saying you don't know is the ultimate humbling position, because face it or not, people like people with answers. Claiming you have everything figured out is the fastest way to get people's trust and respect if it appears that you're telling the truth.
But at the end of everything I wrote I realized something: arguing which group has it better or worse is difficult, if not entirely irrelevant. The ease or difficulty of accepting a belief has nothing to do with its validity. The human brain is wired for religion. We are encouraged to engage in magical thinking by the very architecture of our being. That does not make religion right or wrong, it only accounts for why there's such a disparity in numbers.
Persecution, and which group faces more, is another subject entirely and a debate I'd be more than willing to have with you. but if you think that members of the majority suffer more persecution than those of the minority, I don't think you understand human nature very well.
I say ENOUGH of the pointing fingers and defensive posturing.
Join together and view the creation around us to see the struggle of life, to see the wonders of the processes that give us life and the world we live in and marvel in the complexity and beauty of it all.
The butterfly must struggle from its chrysalis to pump blood into the wings for it to survive. From the butterfly's point of view the struggle is everything for it to live.
The path of least resistance gives us beautiful waterfalls and etched canyons and rich fertile sediment on which life can survive.
My viewpoint has validity to me because it is my viewpoint just as your viewpoint has validity to you.
I do not judge your viewpoint to be less valid than mine. Why is mine any less valid than yours?
There was no effort to understand my analogy or consider it. There was no effort to discuss that possibility.
Instead their was a defensive posture which implies to me a fear of attack which was certainly not my intent.
I was relating the whole issue to the analogy of a writer and his story hoping that those here, as intellectual writers could understand from the common point of view of the science and art of writing.
One must always have the an empty cup to continue to learn and not stagnate in intellectual and emotional pride and arrogance.
I agree every viewpoint is valid, in that it could be potentially true, but that doesn't mean that every viewpoint is equally likely. The fact is, the evidence gathered by science shows that our universe is capable of being a closed system without the need for a god. There isn't anything solid that has ever been observed by humanity while accounting for confirmation bias and other human-observational fallibility that necessitates the existence of god. That is why god remains an ad hoc hypothesis, despite the fact that he/she/it could very well still exist, thus drastically lowering the likelihood of his existence (which I think is what Hawking was trying to say after muddling through it for this long).
Now, I don't have a problem with people who believe in unlikely things except when they misrepresent the odds and make a virtue of their faith. Certainty leads to lack of change, and if there's one thing that the past 3.5 billion years since abiogenesis has shown, it's that change is the engine of progress.