||Let's take the word 'atheist' not as a statement of one's positive disbelief in a god. Let's consider it as being, as best we can, a statement of a cosmopolitan, culturally neutral, neutrally skeptic position; as being informed by a less parochial viewpoint than, perhaps, those advanced by the likes of John Knox, Martin Luther, St Thomas Aquinas, and Dante. Let's make the point, right here, that religious or not, no one can any longer make the claim that the holy texts of any religion are a reliable guide to the natural world. What little cosmology there is in the Christian Bible, for instance, is plainly the cosmology of a middle-Eastern tribe without an advanced knowledge of astronomy.
The debate is not to take place over the grounds of the historical veracity of holy texts. Even literally miraculous historical accuracy would not be sufficient grounds for believing in a god, because belief in gods requires us to discard the idea that naturalistic explanations can possibly be complete at all. The debate is not to take place in the a posteriori world at all. The debate will have to be philosophical because, except for the god of the gaps, the gods have no place left to go in the phenomenological world. (Someone less merciful than me would say that, once the gods were driven from the phenomenological world, we would have to ask ourselves if the gods we are considering have any relevance to the idea of the gods as conceived in antiquity.)
And, in fact, when reduced to this level, there is nothing left for the religious to say. Myths and legends, phenomena of a different consciousness as they are, are almost incoherent in a modern reading; Abraham's sacrifice being no less a mythic expression than the wooden people turning into monkeys in the Popol Vuh. Of course, we can map our own truths on to these old texts, because the old authors were human beings too. That doesn't make them infallible guides to action or unbreachable frontiers on inquiry in modern thought.
If there is an absolute, it must be universal to humankind: nihil humani generis a me alienum est. To say otherwise is to render the idea of an absolute incoherent. If it's not absolute for all, it's not absolute for anything. There are fundamentals to human nature, but they are not to be found in slopeheaded worship of a past which, like all pasts, brings forth oppression in the guise of morality, cruelty in the name of the family, and viciousness in the name of justice. We must instead seek the truth within, in the only way it could possibly be obtained; and we must do it one by one. The idea of a particular god is therefore not only meaningless but pernicious and dangerous.
Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.