So... I was reading the other thread on Mensa and it brought back some scenes from my childhood (it's actually an ongoing childhood, let's just says scenes from before). For purposes of this anecdote, I'll simplify my de-conversion as follows: I was a catholic until I was about 14, then an agnostic until a few years ago. I can still remember my views on atheism in general, prompted by some encounters with a handful of atheists.
I met one when I was about 11, he was some boy my age. He was quick to blaspheme and make fun of religion. Other kids saw him with awe, like the bad kid who will do mischief while the teachers not there. I just thought he was trying to show off, and that he really did believe. I now think he probably was an atheist, but he also wanted to show off. I met several other similar people, and I always thought the same of them.
By the time I got to highschool, as an agnostic, the atheists I met seemed arrogant and especially insensitive to the beliefs of others. I did not personally feel offended, but I must confess I was pushed back from entertaining thoughts on atheism simply because these people seemed like real assholes. Even now that I'm more open about my atheism, I would not think about looking for them, cause I still think they are.
So, I know it's wrong that based on a few encounters with atheists, I dismissed the idea of atheism. It was intellectually dishonest and as much as it hurts me to say it, it was one of the big bumps I had to deal with before realizing I was an atheist. And since I skipped over to the dark side, I have met lots of nice atheists. My question is this:
For de-converts: Do you remember how you saw other atheists while you believed?
For those who never got into religion: Were you one of those assholes who was all arrogant and stuff?
And for all: Even though it shouldn't, the impression we make as atheists could actually push people like me from coming to terms with their beliefs. In the end, I think I would have accepted my atheism sooner if I hadn't met any atheists. It doesn't matter if we're right, it doesn't matter if we are being arrogant. If others see us as arrogant, we could be doing Reason a disservice. Could this be same hint of a tactic?