The question of God is the question of the origin of things. It is a typical philosophical, and more specifically metaphysical, question.
When Richard Dawkins or people like him compare the idea of God to that of fairies, they are hopefully disingenuous - the alternative being downright stupid.
The concept of God is a necessity in one of the two fundamental explanations of the origin of everything. The other explanation is chance. Fairies do not appear in either.
The question of God is also related to the question of what is the ultimate reality: mind or matter.
Philosophers have debated this issue since the beginning of their profession, answering that it is the former in the case of idealists, or the latter if they are materialists.
The vast majority of classical philosophers throughout the ages, including our time, have rejected materialism and think that mind is the ultimate reality. That doesn't mean that all idealists believe in God - although a great proportion does -, but that a simple materialism as the one espoused by Dawkins (I am referring to him because he is, by his own behaviour, the most vocal and visible of contemporary atheists) is generally found deeply unsatisfactory by those whose profession is to critically analyse common ideas and question what is often accepted unthinkingly.
Dawkins is not a philosopher himself. By training and trade he is a zoologist. But when he talks about religion he steps ouside his scientist's boots and puts on a philosopher's hat. Nothing wrong with that, provided he knows what he's talking about.
The first thing to notice here is how much many people, probably taking their cue from public figures like non-philosophers Peter Atkins, Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, have trivialised the issue of belief in God as if it were simply the battle of the old versus the new, the forces of obscurantism v enlightenment, ancient v modern, irrationality v reason, superstition v logic, backwardness v progress, and obviously religion versus science.
The reality is that the battle of ideas surrounding the existence of God has always been present in the history of philosophy, and thinkers have predominantly tended to side with the belief in God.
That Christianity has a solid rational foundation in centuries of philosophical thought is something that - I suspect from the comments they leave in public forums - would surprise many atheists.
That among the greatest philosophers of all time are saints and founders of the Church like St Augustine, St Anselm and St Thomas Aquinas might shock them even more.
But let's get back to the question at the beginning of this article. Numerous - I presume the most naive - atheists appear to be convinced that not believing in God does not entail anything, and that it is just the default non-choice - in the same way as their guide and model Dawkins would consider not believing in fairies the default position.
The reality is different.
There are only three possible answers to the question "Does God exist?".
One, the easiest and probably preferred by lazy minds, is to sit on the fence and declare neutrality explicitly or, simply by not engaging with it, implicitly.
The second is to say that the universe (or universes) have an intelligent designer, God.
The third answer, atheism, in denying the second one is by mere logic taking the opposite view. If there is no design, we are left only with chance. If there is no mind, we are left only with matter.
I'll explore these ideas in more detail in other articles. For now, I'm anticipating that the theoretical, non-observational assumptions are necessary and very strong on both sides of the controversy.
There is no default opinion, no path of less resistance. Both stances require faith, and a belief that has many holes in the evidence for it.
The commonly-held opinion that atheism is not a faith - like a religion of its own kind - is totally unfounded.
Rational arguments live on both sides of the fence, not only one. And so do emotional stances or intuitive statements.
And, if anything, the most logically cogent reasons and scientifically powerful evidence seem to be increasingly supporting the belief of a mind creating all that exists. The progress of science, with theoretical constructs in physics that are necessary for explanation but escape observation, on one side, and the practical impossibility of matter, life and consciousness all originating by chance, on the other, far from supporting the atheist belief seems more and more to confirm the theist one.