There is this idea I see from atheists a lot that my post title is a statement I should not make. I should instead say "I do not accept any God claims" or something more along those lines. The purpose is related to the burden of proof, if I reject the claim of the theist, then the burden of proof is clearly on them, and I am claiming that they have failed to meet this burden, whereas if I try to claim that God does not exist, I am taking on the burden of proof. While there is a time and place for this kind of care, in general I do not like it. It feels a little disingenuous and I don't think it helps in a discussion with a rank and file Christian. I don't think pussyfooting around advances our cause.
While it is true that I reject every God claim that I have heard, I can also honestly say that I believe that nothing like a God exists. Do I have proof? Do I claim that I know for sure that God doesn't exist? No, of course not, because that is impossible. But until I have evidence to the contrary I will continue to believe that God does not exist. By the same token, I can't prove that we aren't in the matrix. It is possible that we live inside a simulation and we will never know it, we can't prove that it is not the case. This is an interesting conversation to have, which I actually think is a quite fun exercise, but if you were to ask me if I believe we are living in a giant holodeck, my answer would be an unequivocal no.
I think this really started to bug me a few weeks ago, when I saw another atheist going completely out of his way to avoid saying he believes God does not exist. Q: "Do you believe God exists?" A: "I reject any God hypothesis that I have ever seen" Me: "for fucks sake, just say no!" I don't really understand what the fear is here, the next thing they will probably fire back with is "a ha! can you prove it" in which case you can just say "no, because it is proving a negative. I can't prove he doesn't exist any more than you can prove Allah, Zeus, Xenu, or santa doesn't exist" Then you can follow up with "but my reasons for not believing in God are as follows..." It leads to an interesting conversation and your reasons for being an atheist will come up quickly enough, why not just let it go there?
Another aspect of this that sometimes gets on my nerves, is the question of which God we are talking about. Sometimes, atheists will refuse to say outright that they don't believe in God because it is an ambiguous term that can mean many things. While this is true, I don't think anyone arguing for the existence of God is talking about a deistic God, everyone seems to be arguing for a God that is very powerful, who cares about us in some way or another, and interferes in the natural world. I feel comfortable stating in no uncertain terms that I think all such Gods are made up. If those Gods were real there would be some evidence of them that would hold up to the light of day. Suppose I proclaimed that Santa does not exist, then someone came back that he saw santa yesterday in front of macys collecting money for the salvation army. Would I be embarrassed that I made too strong of a claim and I should have qualified that what I meant was the santa that flies around the world giving presents to kids? Of course not, when I say santa doesn't exist, it is understood that I am talking about the magic fat man. In the same way, when I say God doesn't exist, I'm talking about the genie God who looks after us and answers prayers, not the neutered one who set the universe in motion and then spent the next few billion years picking his nose.