Conundrum: a question or problem having only a conjectural answer
Conjecture: an opinion or idea formed without proof or sufficient evidence
I've been an atheist since 1994 a total of 20 years, and I was an extremely fundamentalist Pentecostal evangelist for a total of four year from 90' to 94.' Throughout the years of discussing the reasons why I have left the faith with theists of all sects and denominations; I have noticed that there is one divide that separates atheists from theists. The theists insist upon it and the atheists refuse to accept it. That divide is founded on the concept of faith. If you discuss the idea of faith with various theists you will immediately come to know that you will probably get a bunch of ideas about what faith is none of which will agree with the other.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
According to the definition of faith and the many examples of faith in chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews faith is synonymous with hope but not just hope in the ordinary human sense of the word but in hoping against all odds or the seemingly impossible. Faith from the Jewish/Christian/or Muslim perspective is not dependent on objective or empirical evidence but rather on subjective evidence; namely hope that what you believe is absolutely true. Theists have many reasons for believing. Some claim to feel God's presence, others claim to have been healed from some ailment or malady through faith, others claim to receive answers to their prayers, etc.
Faith does not question beliefs; it is faith coupled with subjective experiences and fervor that reinforces irrational beliefs. You can't rationally explain how a man who allegedly lived 2,000 years ago, was executed by crucifixion, placed in a tomb, and somehow against all logic rose from the dead. Even more incredible is the belief almost two thousand years later that this same man will come back to earth to redeem his church!
Contrary to what some theists want one to believe there is nothing mysterious or esoteric about faith. In it's simplest form faith is the same as conjecture: an opinion or idea formed without proof or sufficient evidence. Faith requires that you first make the investment of belief without requiring evidence or leaning to your own understanding. Contrary to what theists believe that initial investment of belief without evidence is what is commonly referred to as a leap of faith. But before faith comes a belief in God.
without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes
to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who
earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
In order to please God you must first be willing to accept that he is; believe that he exists. Once you believe this then you must believe that he will keep his promises as outlined in the Bible to his people and those that seek him. This is all that faith is; the assurance that God exists and that he keeps his word and his promises. Here is the biggest stumbling block for an atheist such as myself: I can't believe in God without evidence of his existence and having read his so called word (the Bible) four times thoroughly I can't bring myself to believe that he exists.
After having read the Bible three times in English and once in Spanish I found that it was full of self contradictions and incompatible representations of God. I was taught that God was good, loving, righteous, and just. He was often compared to a human father figure and his love for his children. In my mind God was the ultimate good and his integrity was unquestionable. But as I read the scriptures I read about some of his actions against humanity and no matter how I tried I could not justify mass murder, misogyny and slavery. Just because other people chose not to believe in God in my mind was not sufficient reason to kill them. I came to the conclusion slowly but surely that this god was not a good god or a moral god but rather a monster and a tyrant.
Today I view the God of the Bible and the Koran as morally bankrupt and as a corrupt tyrant. Their favor is based on your complete and utter surrender to them. There is no free will when your only choice for good is to submit body, mind, and "spirit" to a deity whose existence is for the most part improbable. Failure to do so carries the threat of consequences that even follow you after your physical death! That's not love, that's tyranny!
Theists insists on the absolute truth of their beliefs and want to force those beliefs upon everyone else. Like their God they too remind you of his threats for disobedience and when they were in charge they demonstrated that they were willing to kill, torture, and maim all those that refused to accept the absurdity that is their beliefs. Some states want to make atheism illegal even today!
Unlike theists, atheists insists on logic and reason before committing to a belief system or doctrine. We recognize that in order to be a Jew/Christian/or a Muslim we would have to suspend the use of our minds. We would have to betray reason and dispense of the use of logic to believe in the absurd without evidence. This is where theism and atheism clash and the one place where we will never see eye to eye.
The Christian conundrum also applies to Jews and Muslims and any other religion that insists on the existence of gods whether personal or impersonal as real entities without evidence. What is that conundrum? The fact that logically and reasonably the gods of any religion cannot be proven to exist empirically or objectively. The only one that could prove the existence of God in the case of the religions of the book is God himself. Unfortunately for believers either he doesn't want to do so or he simply can't because he just doesn't exist.
As soon as we abandon our own reason, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our troubles. Bertrand Russel, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish
Never, never do violence to your rational nature. He who in any case admits doctrines which contradict reason, has broken down the great barrier between truth and falsehood, and lays open his mind to ever delusion. William E. Channing, Thoughts
Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures and all word definitions are taken from the online version of the Merriam Webster Dictionary.