Why is it that using your brain has become a thing to be embarassed about? What is wrong with people showing intelligence and expressing intellectual points of view?
I have noticed a lot that if you shift a conversation away from the normal everyday stuff, last nights game, the latest soap news, celebrity, which are all very entertaing topics (I hope Chelsea beat ManU today!!!) that you get castigated and called a nerd, smart arse, or know-it-all.
I read a lot of scientific, psycological type books/mags and every now and then I can use what I have learned to throw light on a conversation. But once you mention 'a study' or 'a theory' people at best switch off at worse mock you for it.
I remember once there was a conversation about a vodka dispenser in a bar that had a slide made of ice so that as the drink was being delivered to the glass, it cooled it. Someone asked would that not freeze the drink. Another guy knew the answer and the reason, but to protect himself from being mocked he delivered it in a fake, nerdy professor voice. It was clear that he was afraid of losing his 'cool'. But I remember being saddened by it but I understood why he did it. If he had said it in his normal voice he may have gotten "OOoooooo Look at Mr. Smarty-Pants!!"
Since when is being intelligent something to mock? Since when is a bad thing to use your mind?
(and here is the tenuous link to Atheism)
In my opinion, this needs to be overcome before Religion will fade away and become nothing more than an interesting historical/sociological subject. People need not to fear using their minds and showing intelligence. Reading, Documentaries, open discussions, positive debate. These need to be encouraged in a way that people will want to learn and listen and question and THINK.
Now of course the manner in which you show it matters too, and it's all too easy to slip into smugness and arrogance if you do happen to know more about a topic than others. But if the debate/discussion can be kept fair and proper, well who knows. We may have people coming to us asking us about our beliefs rather than having to try and spread it.