Re: Oh, what a lot of fun.
The TV set buried on Pluto is a good one. I always used a Barcalounger containing a Neanderthal skeleton, hidden in a crater on the far side of the moon. Yours is better.
OK, well, all of us know real things that exist only inside our heads: aesthetic values like beauty, for instance; emotions like anger. Fine.
Some of us know there is a difference between what exists in our heads and what exists in the world we share with everyone else: if you hit your neighbor with a rock it does real-world damage; if you hit him with an aesthetic sensibility it doesn't. (Maybe his feelings are hurt, but those are inside his head.)
Some of us appear to claim that religious faith -- a thing inside their head -- actually exists in the consensual world as a real thing, with real-world attributes like gods and miracles and heaven and hell.
Others of us would like to see some kind of real-world evidence of that. We might say, "If people measure the rate of radioactive decay in identical samples of U-235, it comes out the same in Tibet, the Vatican, and Tokyo. But if we ask religious believers in those places about their gods and religion, the answers come our very differently. That appears to be evidence that religious belief exists in peoples' minds, but has no referent -- no basis -- in consensual reality."
Fine. Think what you like. But the great difficulty for atheists is that many, many religious believers throughout history have insisted not only that their beliefs describe external reality, but that everybody should credit and obey the religious precepts which the believers hold. For example, in my country, Christian Reconstructionism has been attempting, with some successes, to turn the US into a theocracy (or perhaps a theonomic government, depending on how exact you want to be).
Think what you like. Don't expect me to act according to your thinks, though.
Incidentally, the idea that atheists are just as blinded by belief as religious believers is, I believe, something of a strawman. Atheists I know hold an empirical view of the world, and so the discovery of new evidence should always have the potential to change their beliefs. The agnostic says, "I dunno if there's a god or not", my kind of atheist says "I don't believe there is a real-world god because I've never seen one whit of evidence for one" -- the implication being that if suddenly there is real-world evidence, that non-belief could change.
An excursion: How did this whole belief in gods/afterlife/immortal souls get started, anyhow? I have, of course, a theory. Which has nothing to do with Anne Elk's theory on the brontosaurus. I deny that entirely. /Python
Dreaming whilst asleep is a human (probably mammalian) necessity for proper brain maintenance. In a society which has no understanding of this, dreams are mysterious: they seem real, and when in that place you can see and talk to dead people. Ergo, thinks the primitive, there is a real place where people -- or souls, or spirits -- live on even after they are dead. Dead in the waking, daylight world, that is. I think the misunderstanding of the dream state is the foundation of concepts like afterlife, heaven, and hell, and hence salvation, divine judgment, the mystical mechanism of Jesus' sacrifice for mankind's redemption, and so forth. All from a human misconception about dreaming.
I am fairly stupid and quite obtuse, so I also believe that many much more intelligent people than I have explored this idea. Any references from you well-read and sophisticated commentards?