Not to start with a trite cliche, but ... some of my best friends are atheists. It really is true, and has been for a long time - back to my college days, actually. There was a time in my life, back when I was a fundamentalist Christian, that that would not and could not have been the case. But as I matured and allowed myself to explore worldviews besides my own, I actually came to respect thoughtful atheists.
Early on I read Ingersoll and was greatly impressed. Ingersoll was technically an agnostic, but he did not believe in God. Then I found myself almost as greatly impressed by the writings of Bertrand Russell and Antony Flew.
Later I was a coworker and then became a close friend with an atheist. We not only debated theology over beer on the weekends, he also introduced me to some of the intricacies of quantum physics. At this time I was no longer a fundamentalist, but a Deist. He tried but never converted me to atheism.
I say all the above to say this: I like sincere atheists and have been greatly influenced by atheology. Atheists can help those of us who still feel the pull (seduction, some of them would say) of the spiritual worldiew. Atheists, I believe, have helped highlight areas of theology that need more thought and better expression.
Then there is the less helpful variety, the arrogant mocker who patronizes the rest of us by suggesting we just haven't quite outgrown our childhood and need of invisible friends. Ah well, if it makes them feel better....
While reading a newspaper article about an atheist billboard that, as it always does, created some controversy and discussion, I noticed one of the less helpful type of atheists posted the following:
YAY, finally some real advise (sic). God was only created because the normal human being was so scared at the thought of living their life "alone" they created "god" as well as all mythology but decide god was more feasible to believe so it stayed. If you actually took time to do some ACTUAL research, you would be surprised about a lot of things you find out about what you think you know.
I might suggest that commenter should take his own advice. It is possible he might not know as much as he thinks he knows either.
It seems to me, after years and years of thinking about the merits of the God question both pro and con, that a humble agnosticism is more in order. I believe our feelings about God and spirituality are highly personal, that is we believe or disbelieve in a spiritual worldview primarily for emotional reasons. And then we seek out the arguments that best support our bias.
I find myself cornered into the position of being an agnostic believer. Of course I recognize the strengths of the atheist position. But I don't find them overly convincing. More to the point, they don't jibe with my intuition and deeper feelings. Beyond that admission, I think that all we have emotional reasons for following or dismissing altogether a spiritual worldview. I therefore think it absurd to write off all nonbelievers as wicked or all believers as stupid and childish as is so often done.