Preface: I wholeheartedly expect this post to be cast aside and ignored, but I want to put it out there, and if I get even one person looking inward, then it will have all been worth it.
I live in Salt Lake City, Utah and work at one of the few beacons for the non-Mormon/anti-Mormon counter-culture. A great deal of my coworkers are ex-Mormons that quickly dismiss anything LDS. They have good reason for this. Leaving the church was especially tumultuous for them, and I'm not going to say that I can even begin to understand what they went through with the mutual rejection of their parents and communities.
I'm also a new member of the Atheist Nexus. While I've only read one other blog post and the comments associated with it, it seems like there is similar distaste for religion and religious people represented on this site. Maybe there are similar stories about religious upbringing or maybe members of this site tend naturally to be vocal opponents of the status quo. Either way, I think there are more effective ways to advancing theological discourse than poking fun or bragging about debunking a theist or watching videos about how to shut a religious person down.
What I notice and bemoan is the tendency for atheists to scoff at practicing religious people as if they're wrong to believe what they do. This is not the attitude that will get people thinking about their actions, or their role in the world, and it won't change minds or even get people to listen. Having a respectful and grounded discussion will only come with mutual respect and understanding for other beliefs (I understand it's hard in the context of beliefs as diametrically opposed as theism and atheism).
It's common for people to belligerently defend what they believe in and this goes for both sides of the atheism/theism argument. I have been guilty of it. But after argument upon argument with religious people, I came to the conclusion that I'm not going to change their minds any more than they will change mine. It is a futile and ultimately fruitless endeavor to argue with someone about what they believe. Logic rarely plays into discussions of faith.
The true change will only come if people can understand one another and respectfully disagree with each other. There are a lot of people out there that desperately want life to mean something greater, and will hold on to false beliefs to find that meaning. It's a completely legitimate if not wholly fantastic desire.
Regardless of it's scientific legitimacy, belief in God(s) has the potential to help people be truly to good to one another. Imagine if everyone on the planet loved his or her neighbor and treated others the way they wanted to be treated. Aren't those lessons worth teaching; lessons you want everyone to learn, regardless of belief in the supernatural? Antagonizing someone for believing the earth is 6000 years old doesn't accomplish anything. I imagine a world where being wrong is OK and being right doesn't justify looking down your nose.
If someone asks me what I believe in, I wish in my head there was another word for atheist that wouldn't immediately lump me in with people angrily making fun of most of the country. I agree that the religious walk around with blinders on, but I think we need to start with the understanding that true belief in eternal life is a lot easier for them if they never have to open their eyes. If we meet that blindness with blindness of our own, it will eventually just be a cacophony of "God doesn't exist"'s and "you're going to hell"'s and atheists, agnostics and nontheists will be no better than bible beaters we share a planet/country/city/economy with.
We as atheists can be different. We already are. It's hard for me to imagine a conversation between two religious people regarding why they believe in God that doesn't involve canned affirmations from sermons they've heard throughout their lives. Agnostics, atheists and nontheists ask each other questions like 'why don't you believe in God?' all the time, and receive logical, legitimate answers unique to the person that gives them.
Let's open and listen to everyone, regardless of belief. We may learn something.