I am a scientist/engineer, and I want to thank you for describing what has been gnawing at me since college, when I had a couple of evangelical classmates who were studying the same subject – physics. Even then, when I thought that maybe god did exist, I couldn't help but get annoyed at these evangelicals (the first I had ever met) when they discussed god. It seemed that every time they opened their mouths and spouted something about the young age of the universe, I would look back down at my physics book and think 1. why are they discussing this here, and 2. Are they reading the same book I AM? It didn't matter. 6 years went by and they never seemed to change, even as the subjects got more complex – Thermodynamics, Quantum Mechanics, Relativity. None of these things seemed to turn a key in their heads. I began university with the idea that god probably existed, and left university thinking there's only a 50/50 change at best.
Since I never had a religious upbringing it was hardly surprising that I developed an agnostic position on life; however it was simply the “I'll find out when I die” approach. Although I am not a true convert in the sense that I went from being “highly religious” to the “complete atheist”, I am one that went from 50/50 to the “highly-unlikely-god-exists-and-leaning-toward-atheist” person.
I'm a New England Yankee that now lives in Texas. Let me say that if someone is ever on the fence about believing in the existence of god, then moving to Texas will turn them into an atheist. I come from a secular part of the country, and I have never in my life seen billboards advertising for churches before I moved here, yet there they are – right up there with the other billboard ads for beer, radio stations, laundry detergent, automobiles, and of course – gentleman's clubs. The hundreds of church billboards I have seen since I move here make me think that religion is just another thing people go shopping for – equivalent to shampoo, or a new car. I thought how counter productive is was to bring that which they seem to cherish so much down to such a common level. Then I thought that it was productive for something else – money. People want convenience, and religion in this part of the country seems to be no exception. But 5000-seat megachurches don't get built on prayers, do they? It somehow seems to contradict their own beliefs. These con-artists with a flair for motivational speaking are scamming a lot of decent people down here. However, looking online I can safely say that even Houston has a healthy atheist population, so not all is lost!