Greetings from Ohio
I'm a Music Major soon graduating and pursuing a MA in Music Performance. As you can imagine, there aren't too many atheists in my field of study. There are even fewer who share my love of science. They find it incredibly boring, and it is impossible to have any meaningful discussion with them. This also coincides with them being quite religious. "How can you believe there is no god when there is all this beautiful music?" is something I am asked quite often. My reply "Well the sensation of music is purely a physical phenomena...etc" falls on deaf ears. However, that isn't necessarily the primary thing which led me here. It is essentially a recent change in my regards to the harm religion does to the progress of us as a race.
In regards to my beliefs, I've been at the very least an agnostic since around age 10. I read the bible, and when I asked some of the questions about the absurdities I was told "This is the word of god." At that point I actually convinced my mom to stop making me go to church. Fortunately for me, my dad is an atheist (he actually went into the seminary, but told me he didn't feel how they said he would feel) and fully supported me finding my own beliefs. I've always been interested in science, and the more I read and learned the less I was convinced that there was any kind of deity. I was a full blown atheist by the time I graduated high school.
I always have been one to point out hypocrisy and irony in religious beliefs, but I never considered believing to be particularly harmful. I just looked at religious folks as people who found it easier to have faith than to question things. I thought "sure religion did all these horrible things like the crusades, 9/11 but that's a select few extremists." This was until perhaps a month ago, I was watching a lecture by Lawrence Krauss and came across him speaking at a protest of the Creation Museum in Kentucky.
I never truly believed that people thought the world was 6000 years old and took all that scripture literally. Then I find out they have a museum which claimed to be science. I actually asked a few people I know what they believed in regards to the earth's age/evolution/origins, more often than I expected they believed scripture. That was the point in which I realized religion really does hold back the advancement of the human race. I decided that I needed to at the very least discuss things with like-minded people, and to try to enlighten the ignorant. That is what leads me here.
Sorry for rambling!
"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." -Thomas Jefferson