|Perl: the Markov chain saw|
In my own life, I try to distance myself from people that define themselves by any sort of religious devotion. Not saying just worship of a divine nature - but of any nature - most dangerously when it is blind worship.
People that frantically worship Macs, Linux, Windows, Perl, Python, Java, C etc - they all make me just as leery as those that are extreme in their worship of deities. If your belief in something is so strong so as to hate or argue points that disagree with your own... it is something to give me pause and step back when noticed.
Can I still respect/trust/like someone that blindly follows anything? Sure. There are too many people out there that do it to write them off - but when I notice that someone is like that, I make a mental note of it and do adjust how I react to their words and actions.
I think everyone has the right to believe in anything they want - but should allow others that right as well.
My own personal beliefs leave me no choice to be anything but agnostic.
on a somewhat interesting note - in my own personal life, my parents were raised in families with practicing religions, but they raised me to think critically (I don't mean to imply that religion and thinking critically can't go hand in hand). the people that I have surrounded myself through school and after have also been raised this way - so very few of my friends have views that are that far from my own.
As a result, I had the incorrect view that many people thought and saw things the same sort of way since I was surrounded by other open minded people.
But the internet and especially newsgroups and discussion boards on the net have greatly opened my eyes to see how extreme some people can be. People that are very bright in some areas can be very ignorant and/or closed minded in other areas.
If the internet has done nothing else, it has taught me a great deal about assuming things about the viewpoints of people around me (in that assuming things is bad).
I am American, and in light of many recent events - I think it would likely be a great thing if more Americans (and just people of the world in general) could have the chance to have the same thing happen to them - to see that there are many people out there that are dramatically different from yourself and to be more aware of how they think and see things.
Perlmonks is just one small example of such an experience.
(Also, in case it doesn't come across in any of my posts, or even my username - I try not to take the world too seriously. If I can find areas where I see people taking fairly mundane things entirely too seriously - I take satisfaction in scratching/poking those sore spots. My username is one I use on many boards if it is available, and it gives me a great joy when people are offended at a comment that I am making only towards myself.)
There are some odd things afoot now, in the Villa Straylight.