O taste and see that the Lord is good!" -Ps. 34:8 [RSV]One final thought on the theme of atheism vs. faith:
If a key point is free will, then an even greater point is simple experience. What I mean is this: The atheist proclaims that God does not exist, or that God is dead. The believer replies, "I'm sure you are mistaken, because I just talked to Him!" God has become, not a feeble wish or a cerebral notion, but as real as any human friend, perhaps the Realest Friend of all.
Sound logic and reason may lead one to the brink of faith, to the valley of decision. In the end it takes a raw act of the will, a deliberate choice, to make the leap. This leap, regardless of how reasonable, is often rather frightening. Sort of like jumping out of the moving airplane. You're pretty sure the parachute will open, and yet your heart is in your throat as you take the plunge.
What happens when you take the plunge is what I mean by experience. You jump, half doubtful and frightened, and -- you are caught safely in the Everlasting Arms. Once that happens, you can never be the same. You may turn aside, (backslide, as the Baptists say), you may doubt, you may end up rejecting the love once keenly and joyfully received. Or you may grow daily in that love and in the depth of your faith. For most believers, life becomes a messy quagmire of sometimes rejecting and sometimes growing. But once you've had an experience of God, you're never the same. You walk with the Lord, not just because it's logical and reasonable, and not merely because you've chosen to. You simply know that it's real, beyond raw will and beyond rational cogitation. You just know. You no longer know about God; you've met Him, and know Him as a person.
They say the proof is in the pudding. The Psalm verse cited above is an invitation to taste the pudding. Go ahead, take the plunge, and see for yourself.