I see the usual stuff about atheism being so horribly depressing that no one could possibly believe it that wasn't pursuing the truth disinterestly. That's been, well, debunked more times than I can count. Again, read my latest post on C. S. Lewis to get the classic rebuttal. Atheism is very appealing to pride, a passion so powerful that it heads the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. You get to feel smarter than most of the human race, who still believes, and you there is no being greater than yourself, so far as you know. There is no such thing as sin, no God to offend if you have done something that others might not approve of. There are none of those terribly annoying restrictions on sex behavior to cramp your style. And you can't go to hell either.
Ah, but people are so motivated by that "horror of nonentity" that they will accept anything rather than admit that they will die and rot. Only the elect, those rational enough to leave the fold, can escape this universal passion and see the truth. And you know this how? Lewis said he had no "horror of nonentity" until he became a Christian.
I would like to believe that there is an independent external world, and I have good reason to believe there is one. I want to believe that my wife loves me, and I have good reason to believe that as well. I want to believe that the Suns swept the Spurs in the playoffs a couple of months ago, and they did. I want to believe that Obama is President, and he is. I want to believe that the Democrats control both houses of Congress, and they do. I want to believe that SB1070 was struck down in court, and it was. Intellectual masochism as a way of forming beliefs is no better than wish-fulfillment.
If you talk to sports fans, you will always find the eternal optimist who thinks their team is sure to win the championship every year, but you also find people who are pleasantly surprised when their team finally makes it to the top.