Atheists come in all shapes and sizes. Some are atheists because of some bad experience or whatever, others are atheists because they changed from theists to atheists. Some base their views on science, others not so much. Some call it a nonbelief, others call it a belief. Some spend a lot of their time thinking about atheism and their lack of beleif in god and about theists, others don't really spend too much time if any thinking about any of that. Some would like to see a world without theism, others are pretty laid back and easygoing about the fact that most people are theists. And so on. So I'm sure we can all agree that atheists, as well as theists, come in all kinds of varieties.
Although I've not really involved myself in the discussions, I notice for example that ILOVEYOU has gotten a lot of criticism (apparently criticism of character) in quite a few threads. Not just criticism, but I dare say hostility. I've skimmed through some of the discussions to try and get the gist of it and I can't work out what the cause of the hostility is. I don't want this to be all about ILOVEYOU, but he / she is a good example of what I'm talking about, so I'm just using it as an illustration.
I would like to think that in real life people of different viewpoints are mostly cool with each other. Certainly from personal experience I haven't really encountered any major rows or hostility between atheists and theists, except perhaps when alcohol is involved, and even then usually it's pretty much just banter anyway. I sometimes wonder if the rows here and elsewhere are just banter or if there's actual real resentment involved. It seems to me that the latter is more often the case.
My point is, it's one thing to have a major fundamental disagreement where two people's basic premises about reality differ hugely, but the way a discussion is conducted (from a human behavioural point of view) is something else entirely. I understand that some people may live in the bible belt or other parts of the world where some form of theism or another tends to be expected, and where some atheists may have had their troubles for whatever reason, however I don't think this is an excuse to lower one's standards in terms of conduct.
Presumably most of us are either related to theists or have theist friends, so I can't understand how such relationships can be maintained whilst harbouring hostility towards theists in general.
I would very much like this discussion to not be about the existence or otherwise of god, or anything like that. This is more about the way the discussion is held. My understanding as well as my experience is that the way a discussion is conducted heavily influences the outcome, and who gains what from it. I personally like discussion that are win win, and the first thing that comes to mind when I think of win win situations is when two people learn something from each other, and I do believe that there is always something to learn from others no matter the differences. I don't often see discussions between atheist and theist turn out well, and I do find it quite exasperating to witness the same scenarios playing themselves out repeatedly. Not only that, but the fact that very few seem to notice the trend or want to do anything about it. I believe that this rigidity in approach is counterproductive.