I just came across this, so I'm posting it, partly because it seems to me to nicely encapsulate what a lot of fundamentally decent people feel (although I don't wholly share those feelings) and partly because it makes a couple of good points that are very relevant to this whole debate:
In your book, you write about your faith. How do you feel about religion, and particularly Christianity, being attacked by militant atheists?
It does make you think you ought to stand up and be counted, but I'm not remotely evangelical. It has been a great comfort to me and is a strong part of my life, but it's rather like trying to explain to somebody who doesn't speak Italian how wonderful that language is. It's up to them to find out, and if it doesn't suit them that's fine. But I feel saddened that faith is so often assumed to be coupled with a lack of intellect. It's sexy to be an atheist; it's not hugely sexy to have a faith, certainly the Christian faith.
Are you wary of being labelled a "Christian"?
Yes. Because I suppose I don't want to be one of those earnest, rather boring people who say, "I'm a Christian!" It's a complex issue really, but I do believe quite deeply, quite profoundly.
Alan Titchmarsh, interviewed by The Guardian, 09/24/09
Take #1. "It's sexy to be an atheist; it's not hugely sexy to have a faith, certainly the Christian faith."
This opens up a whole can of worms about why people have the ideas they have. Do they have them because they really believe in them, or because they think those ideas enhance their image? Well, I guess a few cynical people do consciously and deliberately choose ideas for the second reason. But for every one that does, there are dozens, hundreds, who do it quite unconsciously. If they knew what they were doing, the probably wouldn't. It's often regarded as dirty pool, looking at why people think what they think rather than sticking to what they think and debating that on an intellectual level. But let's do it anyway--let's expose them.
Why is it sexy to be an atheist? Well, it's still a bit daring, like the first time you used the f-word in front of your parents. Just like teen rebellion, it makes you feel decisive and important and more interesting than all the old fuddy-duds. After all, it's only recently that the faith that dare not speak its name became the faith that won't shut up. Once you've got past that, you can strike heroic poses with it. Try JUST ME ALONE BEFORE A HOSTILE UNIVERSE (we have the Subnietzschean model for a cool $29.95). Or what about THE PENETRATING MIND THAT SEES THROUGH ALL THAT OLD CRAP? Both in their different ways guaranteed to make you feel good the way a good faith should. And after all, if there's no God then we're the tops, the cream of creation, the highest form of being in the universe. Like most revolutionaries (there are honorable exceptions), atheists want to become what they seek to overthrow.
And on the other side, there's the unsexiness of believing a bunch of stuff that's been around a couple of thousand years. No, there's no contest on the sexiness front.
Or #2. "One of those earnest, rather boring people who say, 'I'm a Christian!'"
Again, it's worth noting that this kind of Christian is just like our New Atheists. Both are socially tone-deaf. Both suffer severely from LJHS*. The source of this is ego. These people love themselves more than others, they haven't any real feeling for how other people feel but that doesn't matter because they are right and other people are wrong. This of course is why you can't simply write off Christianity (for all its faults and weaknesses) because true Christianity (as compared with the shoddy imitations that nowadays mostly pass for it) must include sensitivity towards others and would never seek to proselytize unless sure that this would be welcomed by their hearers.
In passing, but not without some relevance to the above:
Christian jokes are lame
NPR jokes are lame
I've never heard an atheist joke
*Remember Little Jack Horner? Well, his Syndrome is neatly encapsulated in the nursery rhyme: "He stuck in his thumb /and pulled out a plum / and said 'What a good boy am I!" (Atheist version of the LJHS" "What a clever boy am I!")