I just had done some freestyle thinking and thought I may share my insights. Perhaps somebody will be able to take this to another level ;)
When I think of a word "atheist" I have in mind a person that does not believe in supernatural beings, a person that questions everything.
The plural form of this word would describe a group of people that share their views in this matter and those views have it's own name, which is "atheism".
The existence of this term makes everyone following the ideology able to be included in charts that show what portion of population believes in which particular religion and which does not (and are marked as "unbelievers", "no belief", "did not derlare any belief" or "atheists").
It is good that we can be included in those charts - at least we see that we are not alone and we make up for a strong group of rationally thinking human beings.
On the other hand should we even get included in this kind of a chart? Or maybe the proper way of doing it would be to not line up atheism with all major religions of the world but to push it out to a separate chart where there are only two options - "natural" and "believer".
The reason why I used the word "natural" is that early in the childhood everyone of us is something called "tabula rasa", which basically means that our memory, our hard disc drive contains only a clean system and a program called religion may get installed but the system will run without it perfectly. In other words a mind without any belief is in natural state. There is not much to prove this point of view - just take a look at how many religions there are in the world - despite the diversity people thrive somehow so religion is just a program like Open Office or Microsoft Office.
So why would a clean system land up in a chart that is comparing office packets? That is quite an absurd thing to do.
We got used to call ourselves "atheists" while there is nothing to be named. We do not belong to any group because we do not believe in anything and it is actually like being "neutral" to all parties. A "default" state.
It is like giving a name to nothing...
This leads to a conclusion that in between the "atheists" we should not call ourselves "atheists" - we are just normal people without any extra crazy software installed in our heads. We are not part of any organisation, cult or religion so we are nameless.
Now as we, natural people, are unfortunately a minority in the world we may use the name "atheist" when talking with the "believers" who may have a hard time grasping onto the idea how can somebody belong to nothing.
Or should we? Perhaps we should say that we are "normal" and you are not?
That would mean that we say stuff just as any other follower of any religion tells outsiders - we would be interpreted as saying that only our "religion" which is the lack of religion is right. While in fact there is nothing to be right about. Being "normal" is just having a void in the part of the brain the religion is usually stored.
How to reach the other guy that believes in something that you can have that void? By giving it a name? Then it is no longer a void! And we are just another "religion" called "atheism". Maybe that is what we are doing wrong? Maybe we need to stop saying "I am an atheist" when we are asked about our believes and just say "I do not believe in anything", "I have no connections to any religious groups", "I am not under influence or part of any party". Maybe we need to state the existence of the void in more understandable and obvious way?
So many times one can hear someone saying "atheists claim that this and this and this", but something like "atheists" does not actually exists! There is nothing that connects us other than belonging to species called homo sapiens. We congregate on AN only because we need mutual protection of our natural state of mind and that is it about it.
I think it is worth giving a little thought that in case someday humanity in majority accepts reason we should drop using the word "atheists" or naming ourselves in any way altogether. And wether or not it is wise to actually disconnect ourselves from feeling as being a member of something called "atheism" right now and start propagating the void instead?
ps For me, "nonbeliever" is related to the Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series of novels by Stephen Donaldson.
Stephen Donaldson had religious parents and knows all about the misuses of religion, and there are many quasi-religious aspects to his novels.
I prefer to go with atheist. As the Onion says "Stereotypes save time". If there is nothing that you can find in common with that person beyond being myth informed why waste your time?
If there is nothing that you can find in common with that person beyond being myth informed why waste your time?
The Socratic method, which Peter Boghossian teaches in A Manual for Creating Atheists, is useful in many ways in life, not just in discussions with religious believers. Very often we come across people who are making unjustified assumptions, and the Socratic method is good for exposing and correcting hidden assumptions.
Also, everyone interacts with religious believers to some extent. You can interact with them in a way that tends to get them to question - which is PB's aim - or you can interact with them by antagonizing them or pushing them away. Antagonizing them just solidifies their belief and worsens the problem of unjustified belief; pushing them away doesn't do anything about the problem, just prevents you from being bothered by it for awhile.
I like the Socratic method because it's concise. I don't want to get into arguments with believers, and the Socratic method avoids arguing.