All religions have come to us through hearsay. Everyone is talking about the god who is there, but where ? No one knows what it is, where it is, how it is or why it is, but they talk about it just the same, as if they knew.
No one ever experiences god personally. We listen to other people talk about it and read books ; other people tell us what to believe, they interpret our subjective feelings as "god", but we can never know for sure, because god is hidden.
Nonbelievers are expected to accept hearsay as valid evidence for god. That is how god ( if at all he exists) wants us to know about him. He won't come directly to us; he sends his messengers as mouthpieces, and his holy books as instructions, whether it is the old testament, new testament(Bible), Koran, or in our own Hinduism : the Upanishads, Vedas and Brahmasutras for the philosophically inclined, and Ramayana, Mahabharata for the dim - witted. When we question believers, we realize that they know nothing beyond what they have been told by someone else or read in a book, written by men !
I am often reminded of the story of the " Emperor's new clothes " by Hans Christian Anderson. If you have read it in your childhood, you may recall that the emperor commissioned two scoundrels to make him a set of new clothes from the finest fabric in the world, invisible to ignorant and stupid people. When the emperor found he couldn't see the cloth, he knew he had to keep his ignorance secret. He then paraded his new outfit in front of the populace, confident that only stupid people would think he was naked. All the people admired his clothes so no one would think they were dumb. But a small boy, as children are more honest and forthright, stood in front of the throng and declared," The emperor is naked !". The boy was scolded, but gradually everyone began to agree that the emperor was indeed naked. The emperor, too embarrassed to admit the truth (that he had been swindled), continued on his merry naked way !
Atheists are like the honest boy who didn't understand why everyone was claiming that there are clothes when no clothes could be seen. The adults didn't appreciate his honesty because it forced them to question their willingness to believe. Atheists don't want to pretend we see things that are not there just to keep believers from feeling threatened.
I can't help that I don't believe what the religious people believe. I can't help that I have come to think of their religion as a lie. I think they are wrong, just as they think I am. They believe their position is correct as strongly as I believe mine is. Our only options are hatred and intolerance or love and acceptance.
I don't think that the religious people are stupid, as I have been accused by some, behind my back. I only think that they are credulous and gullible -- willing to believe more easily than I am. I am more skeptical. I don't know why; I just am. That doesn't mean there is something wrong with me or that I am bad. It also doesn't mean that I am better than the believers, or even that they are superior to me. We are just different. That's it, we are just different.
Yet. There is a lurking suspicion in my mind that I may be more accurate about the truth than them!