I would describe myself as a moderate atheist. That is to say, while I don’t believe in God, and I do think the world would be a better place without religion, I don’t feel the need to be a dick about it. If someone’s religious, provided they’re not causing harm to others, then I have no problem with that.
I get the impression this is a common attitude among non-religious folk in the UK. We’re a fairly secular society. Sure, you get the odd extremist demanding Sharia law or that evolution should not be taught in school, but such people have virtually zero influence in reality, despite exaggerations by tabloid newspapers and the tinfoil hat brigade.
However, that being said, if someone confronts me about my religious position, I will not hesitate to argue in its favour. This was the position in which I found myself on Sunday. While bopping away from Covent Garden, I came across a table full of leaflets discoursing on religious matters. I was particularly curious about one questioning atheism. While reading through it, a fellow came up to me and asked me what I thought about it. I said that I felt the arguments were slightly flawed, in that while they challenged atheist allegations against religion, they did not target the question of God’s existence, which is the very core of atheist beliefs. There followed an actually-rather-interesting discussion concerning the nature of atheism versus Christianity. Probably the most civilised such discussion I’ve ever had with a stranger.
I wish more evangelists were like that. Admittedly, he didn’t change my position, but he wouldn’t have changed my mind if he’d been a total jerk either. I’d far rather have my mind not changed by a nice guy who’s willing to debate properly. For instance, when I’d set out that day, there was a very annoying woman on the way to the station who was yelling about how we were all hellbound, and on the Day of Judgement “God will make Colliers Wood sorry!” I was tempted to reply, “That’s if he can find the place!” but in my experience zealots are a humourless bunch.