I don't like the word atheist because it creates a yes-no duality. Either you go to church and love Jesus, or you believe in nothing. Then belief itself takes on overtones I don't like which is a sort of blind faith in the shepherd. There is a middle ground for nihilists who are not blind to the supernatural but doubt it takes the form of the nomad shepherd god in the sky.
What form does it take? All of these threads are vague pussyfooting around what everyone really believes.
I'll start by describing what I believe to be the general consensus of the regular users here. From what I understand, most of us believe that the general order of the universe - the laws which it obeys - is immaterial, and that matter simply gives form to the interaction of patterns which do not depend on matter for their existence, that is to say they are inherent in reality itself. From this point of view matter does not possess an absolute reality, which is what the majority of modern people (including theists) believe for all practical purposes, a belief which has always seemed somewhat illogical to me ever since I started to seriously think about things. You will notice that this is a philosophical position and not some kind of spacey mysticism, although many members here also believe that the metaphorical content of traditional mythologies has found ways of expressing the mechanisms of reality which are still out of the reach of conventional science, this belief is probably problematic for you but it hardly seems like a massive leap of faith, especially not to someone who studies these mythologies. Once again most of us are concerned with such mythologies regarding their philosophical content and not either a literal or mystical interpretation.
The next part of what I will say is my own position and not the consensus here but it relates to the topic. I believe that the term God, in the highest sense of the word, refers to a metaphysical absolute which is real and not merely an abstraction and is essentially equivalent to the term 'reality'. It is from this that all things draw their existence and not vice versa, the whole remains undivided. This reality is equally well described as pure being and pure consciousness, though conscious it is not personal, it is simply the foundation of all objective and all subjective existence. The whole universe is simply a mode of expression of the laws inherent in this principle, which is why, as quantum physics advances, matter appears less tangible. This position is essentially that of the Vedanta and most Platonists, it is as much philosophical as it is religious. This is a position I have arrived at through serious inquiry and questioning my own assumptions about existence (which were formally similar to yours), not a sentimental consolation because I cannot face my own mortality. I do not really hold any concrete views on eschatology as I believe it is a subject on which very little information can be obtained, I acknowledge that there are a number of possibilities including the total annihilation of the individual as one of the most likely.
Regarding theism pure and simple, its purpose is to maintain the idea of a metaphysical hierarchy in a way which is accessible to everyone. This provides stability to human thought whilst still allowing for the possibility of transcending the limitations of theism through religious esoterism. It is largely due to the loss of an esoteric tradition (a subject on which I will soon post a thread as promised) that Christianity has declined, particularly in the West. In theism, the metaphysical absolute is limited to some particular aspects, for example its function as a creator, which refers to the fact that it is the foundation of existence. This assures a basic level of stability in all areas of human activity, art, science, philosophy etc. When this is abandoned without being replaced by anything substantial human activity can progress in any direction and this is witnessed quite clearly over the past 500 years or so. It is largely the steady abandonment of Christian principles, in favour of either atheism or an 'updated' Christianity, that has allowed for the worst aberrations in human history. Progress has been made in one area only, that is the manipulation of matter, but since we cannot control what we do with this technology and turn it to good use it is hard to see how this can be considered progress at all.
You are right about one thing, religion is natural to man, but this is because it contains the seed of truth, not for some more sinister reason.