In the preface to his magnum opus, F. H. Bradley observes that "Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct, but to find these reasons is no less an instinct." (Appearance and Reality, Oxford 1893, p. x) The qualifier 'bad' is out of place and curiously off-putting at the outset of a 570 page metaphysical tome, so if, per impossibile, I had had the philosopher's ear I would have suggested 'good but not rationally compelling.' Be that as it may, the point is that our basic sense of things comes first, and only later, if at all, do we take up the task of the orderly discursive articulation of that basic sense.
Thus atheism is bred in the bone before it is born in the brain. The atheist feels it in his bones and guts that the universe is godless and that theistic conceptions are so many fairy tales dreamt up for false consolation. This world is just too horrifying to be a divine creation: meaningless unredeemed suffering; ignorance and delusion; the way nature, its claws dripping with blood, feasts on itself; moral evil and injustice -- all bespeak godlessness. There can't be a God of love behind all this horror! For most atheists, theism is not a Jamesian live option. What point, then, in debating them?
This deep intuition of the godlessness of the world is prior to and the force behind arguments from evil. The arguments merely articulate and rationalize the intuition. The counterarguments of theists don't stand a chance in the face of the fundamental, gut-grounded, atheist attitude. No one who strongly FEELS that things are a certain way is likely to be moved by what he will dismiss as so much verbiage, hairsplitting, and intellectualizing.
But for the theist it is precisely the horror of this world that motivates the quest for a solution, or rather, the horror of this world together with the conviction that we cannot provide the solution for ourselves whether individually or collectively. Evil is taken by the theist, not as a 'proof' of the nonexistence of God, but as a reason, a motive, to seek God. 'Without God, life is horror.'
I should add that it would be pointless to seek God if any of the atheist arguments were rationally compelling. But none are.
In fact, no argument for any substantive conclusion in such fields of controversy as philosophy and theology is rationally compelling. Reason is a god-like element in us, but she is weak, very weak. As I see it, the infirmity of reason is itself part of the problem of evil.