I’m afraid this might not help with your final, but the question is a bit wrong.
For comparison: do religious believers give reasons they don’t believe in other gods, say Zeus or Odin?
People don’t generally need reasons not to believe in something. Not believing in things is the default position; it’s the position we’re all born with. This is implicit atheism – not believing in god(s) because no one has ever suggested to you the idea of a god.
The other answers, with which I largely agree, give reasons are those of explicit atheists – people who’ve thought about at least one conception of god and found the ideas unconvincing.
These are probably similar reasons why you don’t (presumably) don’t believe in fairies, unicorns, alien abductions, etc. Perhaps that analogy will be useful in your final. It might depend on whether the exam is looking for reasons that atheists give for not believing or the reasons that believers think that atheists have for not believing in their god.
In my experience believers either assume or are taught that atheist don’t believe because:
a. They don’t want to be told what to do by a god or religion.
b. They find religious believers annoying.
c. They hate God. (This one doesn’t even make sense. How can you hate something you don’t think exists? Do you hate Thor?)
Actually, the exam may be looking for arguments against the existence of god(s) – explicit atheism again. My guess is that the following answers would score full marks.
1. The problem of evil (how does a good god allow evil and human suffering?)
2. The problem of religious confusion (so many religious make contradictory claims that cannot all be true)
3. The problem of divine hiddenness (If god wishes to be known to humankind, why is his/her/its presence not clear and obvious? If you think it is obvious, see 2.)
Really these are reasons that specific religious claims are wrong, the detail of “We don’t find any religious conceptions of god convincing.” – but it is probably what the question wants you to say.
It might be worth reading more about those three arguments, and there are many more. You can start here.
So I hope that has been some help. If you actually want to understand atheists – good for you – see answers from real atheists. To get the points for the exam, I’d suggest 1, 2 and 3 above. If you want to suck up to a narrow-minded believer, try a, b, c – or be a hero and educate them about real atheists! :-)
Posted: November 10th 2012
See all questions answered by Eshu