I think what surprises me most is the look of confusion on people's face when you say that you don't believe in God, gods, and the sacraments. It's totally outside of their experience and they are gobsmacked. Invariably they come back with some inane response, like "Well, at least you believe in Jesus, so I guess it's OK."
HA, Just yesterday I had a conversation at the library with someone I work with. Before she got there I found this book at the book sale called the 7 Pillars of Health, written by an MD. So I started reading and realized it was a religious book, but good for someone. If it wasn't for the religious parts I would have bought it. So she comes in and and I know she is religious so I show it to her and say "This looks like a good book but it is Christian" she laughed and said "what are you anti Christian?" I said "no I'm agnostic and I think it might have good info in it but I can't get past the religious parts" So she asked "What does it say?" I tell her " It talks about Yoga, which I know she is taking a class, but it clearly states that he would only suggest Yoga as exercise and never to include the spiritual aspects of it" So she surprised me and said "Oh wow, I'm not even that close minded!" It was funny to me and I always wonder just how devout some Christians are.
We don't really have that problem where I live. Many don't believe and those that do don't really care. My neighbor, a good friend, once remarked when I told her that I was a non-believer "Why do you hate God"? That was all she said and we are still close.
I occasionally house-sit at this 125-year-old log cabin that's on the side of a hill in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. It's safe to say that this is "the boonies," but that doesn't make it safe territory from the door-to-door thumpers, as I soon found out. One day, I look out the door, and there's two women out there, and it's obvious why they're there. I cut them off at the pass by saying, "Sorry, not interested, I'm an atheist." One of them screws her face up in the most cartoonish display of confusion I think I've ever seen and asks in total disbelief, "You mean we're just WORM FOOD??" I just said, "They gotta eat, too," and closed the door in their faces.
Later on, I was sitting on the porch with a cold beer contemplating the sunset and that interchange and got to thinking that it's human arrogance lurking behind much of people's religious beliefs around here. They don't accept evolution because then we'd be descended from apes. There is an afterlife involving us sitting around on clouds being some sky daddy's sycophants into eternity because otherwise we'd be "worm food."
all the time. I try to be very polite about it especially when it's an older person. many times I can see in their eyes how they are truly worried for my soul and they're going to pray for me. when all that begins I tell him it's okay and I know they're going to pray about the heathen they met in town, and to have a nice day. I don't see any point in antagonizing a person who's clearly not of a mind to debate, which would be pointless anyway.
around here you're never asked if you're a Christian, it's always "what church do you go to?"
At the Holiday season, when I am greeted with the "Merry Christmas", to which I oft smile and reply, "And a merry Mythmass to you too"
I get much the same reaction, the puzzled Dog hearing a squeaky fart look, that puzzled brow indicating "did I really just hear that?", which does not fit with their cognitive bias of non believers being hostile or angry, because I am happy and polite.
It's sometimes like that here in the sticks in northern Wisconsin. I can relate to that confused look on people's faces when you say you don't believe in God. I had one lady and she seemed happy, or excited or something, and she said, "I've never met an atheist before!". Kind of like she had just spotted a rare bird in the forest.
Aaaw! It's sweet they are still trying to make you seem OK to their "God," despite your apparent heresy.
I had a similar disbelieving reaction here in Thailand before I could speak Thai, since foreigners are rare in the places I taught.
Students just couldn't comprehend that an adult human couldn't "speak."
If I said I didn't understand them, they'd look shocked, then repeat the question in a different way, or talk more loudly, or slowly, unable to grasp the concept that because I had NO IDEA what they were saying in Thai, those measures wouldn't help.