One of the top google search terms for this blog is: “What do atheists believe about how life started?”
I have a post on what atheists in general believe (summary: they don’t like the word believe), but I figure, I can pander and answer the question.
Atheists are not a uniform group, but their (our) usual unifier is an inquiring mind that looks for evidence behind a statement. Scientists are often atheists, but atheists are not always scientists.
Science is the means people have used to look for answers in a verifiable fashion. Science has any number of theories for how life on earth began, and all are equally wild.
Did lighting get bunged through a load of organic molecules which had been forming and forming based on the conditions of earth a some time several gazillion years ago, and BOOM, alive?
Did a self-replicating form arise and simply evolve to become more and more efficient, eventually giving rise to life?
Did a meteorite strike contain life forms from another planet (which doesn’t answer the whole “how did life get started?” question, but cleverly avoids it)?
The issue, of course, is falsifiability. People are trying to replicate the conditions of the time in question, in order to see if they can make something happen in terms of creating life from not-life. They are looking for evidence for one pathway or another.
Right now, there isn’t much evidence one way or another, so most atheists are happy to pick a favourite theory and go with it until it gets proven wrong. I quite like the alien bacteria theory myself, though as I say, it doesn’t answer the central question.
This is the issue atheists have with goddidit: people who take the word of the bible as literal truth cannot help us find evidence. They refuse to conduct experiments to look for the conditions under which goddidit. They just say, look, someone wrote it down, so it must be true.
Yeah, well. I won the lotto. See, written down; still, sadly, no evidence for that.