I dislike militant atheists. If you asked me about my beliefs regarding Gods and higher powers you would most likely conclude that I am an atheist*. However, it matters very little to me to convince others that they are wrong for holding beliefs that stand in contradistinction to my own regarding this issue. You may coax an answer from me if you were to ask me what I thought of the belief in God. I will say that these beliefs are unfounded, unsupported by evidence and irrational, more or less. Yet, I will also defend irrationality, not as an explanation but as a description. Because irrationality never leads us to an adequate explanation of our world, but it is often a suitable description of how we try to unsuccessfully explain it. But I will not say that a believer is stupid. Of course, stupid people do believe in God, but there are surely many very intelligent people – much more intelligent than me – who believe in God as well. To call someone stupid for faith is to overestimate our own mental processes as infallible and is downright arrogant.
When confronted with naturalism, a lack of inherent meaning or intrinsic value, skepticism, nihilism, mortality, the never-ending questions that accompany existence, that humans are not a logical necessity of all possible worlds, etc., adopting irrationality may be the most rational way in which to preserve the remainder of one’s sanity (the remainder of one’s rationality). Perhaps faith is an evolutionary adaption/advantage. Myths guide a person through life’s milestones and ease them through the scarier ones. And what is more down-to-the-fiber-of-one’s-being scary than the supposition that nothing really matters? Felo de se amplifies to felo de totum.
The preceding comments concern individuals and their faith. Religion is different from, though potentially overlapping with, individual faith. Individual faith is not dogma or doctrine, per se, even if it can be informed by them; and individual faith does not have the pecuniary characteristics of modern, major religions. I purposely left the word religion out of this discussion – hostility toward religion, especially as enterprise and systems of control, is a lot more understandable.
*This highlights the obsession with labeling everything: ‘I am x, y, z…’ As if the more things we can predicate about ourselves then the firmer, more delimited, more stable our identities become. Or, as if the more objects we can collect and stuff in our identity sets then the less likely we are to have to come face to face with a countenance grimacing crisis. Stuff the sack until the seams burst. All these things we say about ourselves and the groupings which we employ are not natural kinds. They are artificial and contingencies but they function – do they function better en masse? Is who you are the more you can say about yourself and the longer you can talk? A term such as atheism is interesting in that it stands in contrast to term(s), viz. theism and its parts, which it needs for its meaning. Had God never entered the minds of men atheism would not make sense. So, it is odd to attribute atheism to one’s identity. I do not wake up in the morning and think of myself as an atheist. Just as much as I don’t wake up in the morning and think of myself as a non-panda, a non-chair, a non-non-entity, etc. It trivializes identity if we bombard it with negative terms – what we are not, rather than what we are.
Finally, as an aside, I am fonder of the term apatheism. And here lies my identity.