Many atheist activists take the time to debate and discuss religion with theists while others often assert the futility of such discussions. I spend a good amount of time in discussion with theists and aside from the fact that I truly enjoy this type of discourse I personally find that the exercise is more often healthy for all parties involved than not.
Consider the following three examples:
Here in the deep south, in a small town where there are almost as many churches as people – many believers have never been exposed to such fundamentally differing opinions as my own rejection of the faith worldview in exchange for a naturalistic and evidence based approach to determining truth. In my discussions with “real life” people here I’ve come to realize that the vast majority of believers are under-prepared for this level of debate and in many cases find themselves admitting that they are ill-prepared and under educated in the tenets of their own faith. Most of the time I’m the one that has to explain what the Bible says about any certain topic and I think that this fact has had an impact on many local believers in-so-much that they frequently commit themselves to better understanding their faith and even other view points.