When Atheists are asked why they don't believe in God, it is somewhat common that the answer they give is that they have never seen good proof of God's existence, or that they have never heard a good argument for the existence of God. I have been thinking about this answer and while I think it is a good answer it feels quite incomplete. For someone like myself who is an atheist but was born religious, I think it makes sense to split the question into 2 parts, why are you an atheist now, and why did you become an atheist in the first place. The answer to why I became an atheist in the first place is the story of a long journey. For me it was a long process (which I have talked a little bit about in this series of posts) in which I basically questioned the ideas I grew up with and found them lacking.
The answer to why I am still an atheist can be fairly summed up by saying that I have never seen sufficient proof to believe in a god. In my mind, there is a long back story of struggle and thought that spanned a decade leading up to me deciding that there is no good evidence for God. Somehow I think that is lost when the simple answer is given to the question. Just saying "there is no evidence" can make it sound like it was a snap decision based on almost nothing. It could sound like "meh, never came across any evidence, never really looked, never really cared, whatever". Hell, for some people this is surely the case, if you weren't born into it I could imagine this being exactly your attitude (now that I think about it I have friends in this situation, I envy their childhood). But for me, when I say there is no evidence I mean something more like "I looked, a lot, I wanted God to be real and I tried to believe, but the more I looked around the more my belief felt hollow until it fell away completely."
I think when we give the succinct answer we need to keep in mind that there is more behind it that is probably not coming through. When appropriate, we need to make it clear that even though our answer is short, it does not mean that we are not taking the question seriously.