Let's start with double standards when it comes to discussing/debating religion and faith with believers. One of the biggest problems I have with Christians is how they demand evidence from atheists but won't/can't produce evidence for their beliefs. Why is it I'm required to know the bible to debate them, but they won't pick up a science textbook/paper and learn the truth about things such as evolution?
When we ask for proof (and remember, the burden of proof is on the person or point of view in the affirmative), they say it's a matter of faith. And we're just supposed to accept that as proof, which no self-respecting atheist ever would. But when we, as a quick example, tell them evolution proves we are cousins of apes and weren't created instantly as human beings (Adam), they say, "Where are the transitional fossils?" When we show them tons of transitional fossils, they ask for more fossils. There's a running joke in science that every time a new fossil is discovered, it creates two more "gaps" for these creationists to point to for their argument.
Only debaters who are paid to defend Christianity ever take the time to learn science, but even these believers cherry-pick from science what they will inevitably take out of context to try to refute the atheist stance. It's not unlike what they do with the bible, only they cherry-pick what makes their god look infallible and benevolent. And when these believers make their points they continually go back to faith and the miraculous, which brings me to my topic: ridicule.
Recently, someone in my family said they didn't like atheists as a whole because they are always so negative. I love this person dearly, so I just bit my tongue, but it's a huge misconception. Atheists, when presented with discussions of faith, must clearly make their point. When a person is strident and factual about something that uses faith and zero facts, they will come across to the wishful thinker as negative. They actually are just squashing irrational dreams with rational thought, and that's why my family member may feel this way. If atheists seem negative or harsh, it also could be because that atheist has seen horrific atrocities performed in the name of religion to which they can't turn a blind eye and should be appalled.
History points to Jefferson being a deist, meaning given the evidence in his day, he most certainly wasn't a theist and he couldn't be sure how things were created so he chose to think some deity must have made everything. It also should be said his quote was concerning the doctrine of the trinity. Jefferson was obviously a political figure, so while he didn't necessarily shy from taking a controversial stance regarding religion, he certainly didn't want to commit career suicide either.
One person who never shied from controversy, and whose hero was Jefferson, was Christopher Hitchens. He put it succinctly when it came to why such things should be ridiculed.
“It is entirely appropriate to ridicule absurd ideas rather than to treat them as serious and give them respect. Only serious ideas based on reason and evidence are worthy of intellectual respect. The ideas that we critique and ridicule have historically led to or facilitated war, genocide and ethnic cleansing. They have enslaved millions, impeded medical and scientific research and are now draining vast sums of taxpayer dollars to propagate more of these ridiculous ideas. These ideas have resulted in untold amounts of violence, death, torture and suffering as well as the profound intimidation and physical molestation of our young. Ridicule and even sneering condescension are about the mildest critical reactions that we can have for the enormity of the mind-boggling injustices perpetrated in their name. I can readily empathize with those of us who consider the behaviors prompted by these dogma to be illegal and criminal.”
So, are atheists negative? No, they just oppose what most of the people on this planet believe in, so it only feels that way, but it couldn't be more wrong. If believers would just do some critical thinking and research they would see that.