berk wrote:To clarify why most college students make the decision to be atheist:
Meanwhile, in the real world, seventy percent of college students say that religion is an important part of their lives
Pros of being an atheist:
-Conforms to liberal political philosophy
Liberal political philosophy is that philosophy which emphasizes individual rights and tolerance of change and dissent. This has nothing to do with atheism, or with religion. As you so precisely stated yourself, liberal political philosophy is political philosophy, not theology.
which is also "the norm"
21% of Americans describe themselves as liberal (politically). This rises among young people, but not to the extent of becoming the norm. In fact, among Democrats
under the age of 30, only 48% describe themselves as liberal. There are also Republicans. 
and pressed upon you by your peers and superiors.
-Easy to defend, especially when you are in a group.
Things that are easy to defend are that way because for a reason. The most common reason things are easy to defend is because they are correct, but we must of course acknowledge that this is not diagnostic for correctness. Nevertheless, ceteris paribus
, if something is easy to defend, it is more likely to be correct than something difficult to defend.
Two atheists actually discussing spirituality with a "believer" without resorting to exclusion-tactics is more rare than two birds colliding head-on.
We have a forum here called "Serious Business." In that forum you will find several threads in which atheists and non-atheists discuss spirituality without resorting to exclusion-tactics. I have also been fortunate enough to have many discussions on the topic of atheism and religion, both with atheists and non-atheists. Perhaps your lack of experience with such conversations is caused by your own lamentable failure to employ the LR-a type of rhetoric (as defined by the late Wayne Booth in The Rhetoric of Rhetoric
[Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004]).
-Requires absolutely ZERO additional thought or self-exploration.
As "additional" to what? It is a true but vacuous statement that the amount of thought or self-exploration required to become an atheist, beyond the amount of thought or self-exploration required to become an atheist, is zero. On the other hand, the same statement could be made about any alternative form of spirituality.
Cons of being religious:
A deconstructionist might take the opportunity to note that the word "con" has a double meaning that may be construed as a Freudian slip.
-You face ostracism by your peers (in the majority of universities)
I am unwilling to disclose the name of the school I attend on this public forum; however, it is generally regarded as a very liberal institution. Nevertheless, I face no ostracism for my religious beliefs, and I am not an atheist. I am also not an agnostic, a "weak atheist," a pagan, a neo-pagan, a Shintoist, a pantheist, or a Buddhist. The idea that a non-atheist would face ostracism, at this university or at any similar institution (which category includes the so-called "Ivy League" schools), is absurd.
-You will be generalized as a "right-wing nutjob" (redneck, anti-abortion, hates minorities, loves George W. Bush and Reagan, etc)
This sentence portion rails against "generalization," and yet it uses the verb "will." Therefore, the assertion in this sentence can be refuted by a single counterexample. It suffices to consider the counterexample from the previous paragraph in this post (namely, this post's author's own experience). I must once again consider the possibility that your differing experience is, in whole or in part, caused by a failure to employ appropriate forms of rhetoric, particularly listening-rhetoric.
unless you are a minority member
I am not a member of a minority race, ethnicity or sexuality, which is the sense in which you used the word "minority" when you wrote the above-quoted post.
(which breaks their fragile generalization system).
Those of my friends (and enemies) who are members of the latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, theist-bashing egghead liberal elite caste generally consider Clarence Thomas to be a "right-wing nutjob [sic]," despite the indisputable (and not unnoticed) fact that he is a member of the African-American community (better known among right-wing nut jobs as "blacks"), which is a minority group.
-If you are lucky enough not to be rejected, you will still face constant pestering by people trying to either ridicule you or change your mind.
I seem to recall that in a previous part of this post, you lamented the alleged fact that atheists had no need to reexamine their beliefs. Ah, I have found it: "[Atheism] [r]equires absolutely ZERO additional thought or self-exploration." Perhaps the hypothetical person subjected to "pestering" should take advantage of the pestering as an opportunity for self-exploration. As for "ridicule," I suppose that no religious person has ever called atheists "ostriches" 
or said that "[t]hey are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good" (Psalm 14:1). But then again, the sieve always says to the needle, "You have a hole in your tail."
-Introduces deep philosophical questions into your mind
Atheists consider the same philosophical questions that non-atheists consider. Many people become atheists when they carefully investigate philosophical questions like the problem of evil or the Euthyphro dilemma.[/quote]
that you cannot be answered, only accepted.
I quote G.K. Chesterton (who, by the way, was devoutly religious):
[W]herever you find men ruled merely by mystery, it is the mystery of iniquity. ("The Purple Wig")
I know from experience that unanswered questions drives young, critically-thinking people crazy.
You have a redundancy in this sentence. One should leave out the word "young." If we look past this, however, it should be pointed out that in the face of critical thinking, questions do not often remain unanswered for long. Recall (if it is not too difficult) the Chesterton quote, above, if you find yourself wondering why it is a good idea to leave as few questions unanswered as possible. Of course, one must make sure that the answers to the questions are correct, which is the purpose of critical thinking.
berk wrote:After all, in the end, to put it bluntly... We don't know shit.
We know nothing -> Assume nothing until shown otherwise
Null hypothesis, I choose you!
This falls under the same category as "You cannot prove we are not living in a Matrix-esque system".
No, it does not. In fact, you ("berk") are the one engaging in thinking along the lines of "'You cannot prove we are not living in a Matrix-esque system,'" when you state that "[w]e don't know shit." Notice the similarity between these tropes: "We don't know" and "You cannot prove." The other poster ("Yuri2356") has, by contrast, made a different assertion: "'Assume nothing.'" "Yuri2356" assumes that we are not living in a Matrix-like system; this is, of course, a logical assumption.
By your argument, wouldn't the fact that some people think they have been "touched by God" proves the existence of God?
No... because God, if he exists, obviously exists beyond the boundaries of human perception.
This is not obvious. Christians believe that Jesus (a man, ergo, an object existing within, not beyond, human perception) was God. Therefore, the thing that you have asserted is "obvious" is categorically denied by the single largest religion on earth. I would venture to claim that this makes it non-obvious.
Logic/the scientific method does not apply to unanswerable questions.
The scientific method applies to unanswerable questions. It prescribes the course of action generally known as "Occam's razor."
You cannot prove or disprove the existence of God through any observational means.
However, many arguments used to argue for the existence or non-existence of God can be addressed through observational means.
If you could, why would they call it FAITH?
Perhaps because "faith" is defined primarily as "religion: a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny" 
falls to fundamental realism vs idealism
One cannot refute a point by stating the names of two philosophical concepts and placing them in opposition. For example, if a person states that "the earth is 5000 years old," I cannot refute that point by saying that it "falls to fundamental evolution vs creationism." To refute it, I would have to give a well-reasoned argument, which is something you have shown little ability to do so far in this post.
, and is inherently paradoxical. We don't know shit.
Because you have not yet assembled convincing evidence for your point of view, you have resorted to circular logic. This is fairly typical among apologists for extreme skeptical positions, but that does not excuse it.
I do not hold the decision that people make against them, however, I can hold the REASONS they make that decision against them.
This would be a more useful basis for judgment if there were any way you could identify the reasons a given person made a given decision. However, the evidence for telepathy and other psi powers is very much lacking, so it is a reasonable assumption that you cannot know these reasons. Therefore, I advise that you rethink this position.
In conclusion, I have demonstrated that, despite a relative paucity of the grammatical and orthographical errors that characterize so much shoddy thinking on the Internet, the above post by "berk" is nevertheless an example of poor thinking. As I have speculated above, the cause of this is perhaps a poor understanding of the concept of listening-rhetoric, combined with a lamentable lack of curiosity about the ways in which people other than him perceive the world. It would be necessary to analyze more material by the author to draw a firm conclusion on this point, but it seems likely that such material will not be forthcoming, owing to the fact that moderators on the fora here are generally very good.
P.S.: I'm still not an atheist.
EDIT: The above post contained a closing "quote" tag in an incorrect location. It has been removed.