First to get the obvious out in the open, I am an atheist. That is to say that I happen to beleive there are no gods. No Jehovah. The pope is not the representative on earth of any supernatural being. No Vishnu, Jupiter, nor Thor. Bibles are just books full of old stories. If there was a Christ, he was just another regular person with some nice stories and wild claims who convinced some gulible people to make up even more stories about him. And there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster either.
Notice I stated it as a personal belief. Yes, to me science and logic are more convincing and incompatible with religion and superstition. I don't see it as proven that one or the other or the other has had the final word but it certainly looks to me like science and logic have a huge lead, based on evidence, over superstition and religion. Still it is possible that I am wrong, I just don't BELEIVE I am wrong. I might die and find my spirit/soul facing judgment of some form but I don't BELEIVE it will happen. It seems to me like the odds are vanishingly small that there will be any life after death whatsoever.
The fact that I admit I might be wrong no matter how small a probability/posibility I beleive it to be might make me an agnosic in some people's eyes rather than an atheiist. Well, to me an agnistic is one who has not decided what to beleive in. I have come down quite decisivly on the side away from religion. The fact that I leave a morsel of doubt is actually part of being a scientist.
Albert Einstein said it was possible that relativity was simply a local phenomena. This means we can only rely on our observations to a certain point and that which is outside our experience, perhaps a few galaxies over or the other side of some light speed horizon will have other rules to follow. That doesn't mean we have to give up on relativity as a rule for working with what we have here and now. We should use it and it seems we can rely on it and other "theories" until such time as we find we either need to expand or abandon them.
Note that science also refers to a "theory" of gravity but it doesn't mean we expect it to be overturned. Its just that we in some absolute sense do not know the basic whys and hows of gravity and cannot be "absolutly" certain that gravity will not be overturned, perhaps some new technology will give us some sort of antigravity ability not allowed by current "theory". It is not to say that we expect the earth to fly apart into space tommorow morning, just that we can't really prove it won't happen based on our imperfect understanding of the phenomena. Note that, in a scientific sense, the fact that something has never happened in the past is not a proof that it will not or cannot happen at any time in future. It is evidence, not proof.
And so we come to the theory of evolution. We have LOTS of evidence that it did happen and is happening all around us here on earth. The evidence presented against it consists primarily of the stories in some of the oldest sections of the old testament. Arguments of "intelligent design must be true just because the world is so complex" have alternative explanations (stories) which do not require supernatural premises. Humans actually have a myriad of creation stories and we could lump many of them into an intelligent design category but they are not science and they share a lack of evidence. The Flying Spaghetti Monster (google it!) is no more convincing and has about as much evidence as Genisis.
So in summary, I happen to beleive religion and superstition are wastes of time and effort but I acknolege that people will persue them regardless of my beleifs. Religion's beleivers will claim to gain internal strength from such beleifs and some will inevitably even try to convince me that their beleifs are somehow better than mine and I should abandon mine. Fanatics might even think I should be killed for expressing beleifs contray to theirs. I very much doubt I will ever change mine and might even become hostile to missionaries who accost me.
I was once approached at my front door by a pair of missionairies, one quite young (20ish) and one somewhat older (40ish perhaps). The young one opened the conversaion with a typical question about my opinion of God. I replied "I beleive there are no gods" with a slight emphasis on the plural. The young fellow opened his mouth to join the battle but the older guy recognized something in me and laid a hand on the young man's arm forstalling him. The mature missionairy bid me a nice day (and maybe even wished God to be with me or some such) and led the young guy away. He had recognized a hopless case or at least a case beyond those two's powers of persuasion and took their efforts off to find more fallow fields. I respect that. He may be wasting his time but at least he saw clear to not provoke me to waste mine further.
Lloyd Miller 2006 June 29