Most people, even religious devotees, don’t know what they are talking about when they talk about God. Rejecting the existence of a divinity due to lack of empirical evidence, or because His existence contradicts rational intelligence sort of miss the point and do nothing at all to disqualify theological arguments for God’s existence. Suffering in the world, lack of empirical evidence, or irrationality are not disqualifying arguments. God is a mystery, and the God that most atheists claim to reject bears no resemblance whatsoever to the God of the Bible. The God that most atheists reject is a straw man, a fabrication that nobody believes in or ever advocated in the first place.
Additionally, atheists vehemently rail against the long history of depravity among organized religions. They are both right, and have a right to do so, but once again their legitimate criticisms are less disqualifying than motivational - an invitation for the religious to do better.
The question “Do you believe in God?” presupposes the existence of God. The question is a red herring meant to confuse the issue, and I think it reveals confusion among the interrogators. Because when people ask if you believe in God what they almost always mean is what you believe about God, not whether you believe in His existence as such. The question presupposes His existence. And, incidentally, it is theologically dangerous even to say that God “exists” in any way that humans can comprehend. This leads some theologians actually to advocate atheism as a way to conserve God’s divine nature. God is spirit, not form (although He can and has assumed form) and He transcends our comprehension.
Animosity and love are not mutually exclusive.
When debating divinity with atheists we cannot start by arguing God’s existence. That kind of talk goes nowhere. Instead, we have to begin with a discussion of the human condition, establish that there is a need for what Christians call “atonement,” and then argue about how faith in God - and, for Christians, faith in the teachings and the person of Jesus Christ - 1) satisfy the need for salvation and atonement, and 2) establish that the way of achieving salvation and atonement are ways revealed by or inspired by a metaphysical being, a divinity, not devised by humankind alone. Once these are established then we can approach the question of God’s existence and what His nature must be in order to satisfy the need. In other words, there is a God-shaped hole in our psyche. We first have to discover the hole, avoid mistaking it for something it is not, and second discover what can be done about it.
People are not wrong to be angry at God, to blame God for the terrible suffering in the world. But remember that a relationship with God is reciprocal and there is plenty of room for back-and-forth animosity when animosity is called for, and for love and adoration when those are called for. Animosity and love are not mutually exclusive, and it is a mistake to let anger lead to rejection because humans usually (wrongly) use the existence of God as a crutch to avoid moral responsibility. Framing God as an evil moral accomplice in suffering - and therefore self-disqualifying - liberates people from accepting their own moral culpability. So rejecting God for His moral failure loses credibility if it is actually a device for avoiding our own moral failure.
No matter how hard you try … you cannot have faith - which is absolute certainty that God exists, for instance - without God’s grace.
The thing is that God doesn’t know you if you don’t expose yourself to Him. Similarly, we do not know God unless He exposes Himself to us. It’s reciprocal. If you search for God then God will search for you. If you turn to God then God turns to you. God is with you when you are with Him in both good times and bad times, like a marriage. If you reject God then God rejects you. God’s existence, belief in His existence, faith in His teachings, etc. are not a guarantee of good times. They merely establish a path or Way to follow in life come what may.
No matter how hard you try … you cannot have faith - which is absolute certainty that God exists, for instance - without God’s grace. If you ask, "How do I know I have received God’s grace?" the answer is: If you know with certainty that God exists, then you have received it; if not, not.
Religious faith does not mean intellectual belief in preposterous propositions. Faith means trust and hope in relationships - relationships among people, relationship with the unseen God - and hope in the Way. Belief in God means cultivating undefeatable hope.