This article is from the Atheism FAQ, by mathew firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Atheists live their lives as though there is nobody watching over
them. Many of them have no desire to be watched over, no matter how
good-natured the "Big Brother" figure might be.
Some atheists would like to be able to believe in God -- but so what?
Should one believe things merely because one wants them to be true?
The risks of such an approach should be obvious. Atheists often decide
that wanting to believe something is not enough; there must be
evidence for the belief.
"But of course atheists see no evidence for the existence of God --
they are unwilling in their souls to see!"
Many, if not most atheists were previously religious. As has been
explained above, the vast majority have seriously considered the
possibility that God exists. Many atheists have spent time in prayer
trying to reach God.
Of course, it is true that some atheists lack an open mind; but
assuming that all atheists are biased and insincere is offensive and
closed-minded. Comments such as "Of course God is there, you just
aren't looking properly" are likely to be viewed as patronizing.
Certainly, if you wish to engage in philosophical debate with atheists
it is vital that you give them the benefit of the doubt and assume
that they are being sincere if they say that they have searched for
God. If you are not willing to believe that they are basically telling
the truth, debate is futile.