It seems a lot of people don’t like atheism. They see it as an over-confidence in the non-existence of something, some even trying to suggest that it is more scientific to be agnostic about unproven things.
I have heard atheists respond with “I am not agnostic about fairies, so why should I be agnostic about a God?” As a theist I always felt that fairies were very different from God. God was a more philosophical concept, an over-arching reality in whom we all subsist. Fairies were just mythical creatures.
The thing is that God is such a flexible concept. It means so many different things to people. If God was simply “ultimate reality”, or even equated with the universe itself, or logic, or the laws of physics, then no-one would be an atheist. However most people imply some sort of supernatural consciousness when they use the word God.
Religious scriptures such as Bible and Quran certainly portray God as a conscious being, a kind of super-human with very definitely human attributes, emotions, and behaviours. As the centuries have passed, the concept of God has become more transcendent and philosophical, and non-doctrinal theists are far less definite in their understanding of God. But the idea of a conscious mind with purpose and intention, as a bottom line, seems to be retained in the God concept.
Is it over-confident to deny the existence of such a consciousness? When it comes to the very human-like concepts of gods, the pantheons of ancient Greece for example, most people now would be as confident in the non-existence of Apollo or Poseidon as they are in the non-existence of fairies. But what about a more transcendent form of consciousness?
Personally I don’t believe it exists, and not because of the lack of concrete evidence for it, but because my sense of reason tells me that consciousness is a biological, evolved thing. I find it amazing and mind-blowing to think of the universe becoming aware of itself through the evolution of advanced consciousness. I understand that our consciousness is so developed that we are prone to seeing consciousness everywhere, even where it isn’t. I understand that this is what makes the God concept so persistent, but a supernatural mind without a brain, seeing all without eyes, hearing all without ears, doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know what the ultimate nature of reality is, and I happily accept that, but I don’t think I’m being unreasonable if I say I’m fairly sure it’s not a consciousness.
I don’t think this makes me arrogant either – I used to be a believer; I can empathise with belief, I don’t think belief is “stupid” and nor do I think it does any harm to believe in a God. I don’t want to take away anyone’s belief in God. So I don’t understand why anyone would want to take away my unbelief and insist that I be agnostic.