Is the atheist conclusion that matter preceded mind from the very “beginning” of the universe more plausible, evidence-based, or rational than the theist conclusion (that mind preceded matter)?
I say no.
Here’s why. As a matter of logic, if you reject the existence of God or mind prior to matter and believe that atoms rustling in the void wholly accounts for all that is, then matter must have always existed or it must have come from nothing.
There is no third option. On the matter of ultimate origins, if you’re a strict materialist (matter precedes, and has always preceded, any appearance of mind) then you’re faced with Aristotle’s law of the excluded middle. Matter came from nothing or it is eternal. Either way, you are in the same conundrum as the theist with regard to this question:
Where did the mind of God come from?
If it is question begging for the theist to say, “The mind of God came from nothing,” or “The mind of God has just always existed,” it is also question begging for the atheist to say, “Matter came from nothing,” or “Matter has just always existed.”
Be an atheist if you want. Just don’t pretend that the grounds for your belief enjoy more evidence, or are any less implausible or mind-boggling, than the person who says that she has chosen to believe that the mind of God precedes matter.