Religious belief of all kinds shares the same intellectual respectability, evidential base, and rationality as belief in the existence of fairies.
This remark outrages the sensibilities of those who have deep religious convictions and attachments, and they regard it as insulting. But the truth is that everyone takes this attitude about all but one (or a very few) of the gods that have ever been claimed to exist.
No reasonably orthodox Christian believes in Aphrodite or the rest of the Olympian deities, or in Ganesh the Elephant God or the rest of the Hindu pantheon, or in the Japanese emperor, and so endlessly on – and officially (as a matter of Christian orthodoxy) he or she must say that anyone who sincerely believes in such deities is deluded and blasphemously in pursuit of “false gods”.
The atheist adds just one more deity to the list of those not believed in; namely, the one remaining on the Christian’s or Jew’s or Muslim’s list.