I consider atheism as a political position, not a philosophical one.
I have a strong leaning toward science, and science tells me not to dismiss what I cannot prove nor disprove; a bit like presumption of innocence, if you wish. So, my "natural" position would be agnosticism: there's no proof either way of the existence or not of a god. We might as well be the expression of a self-realizing endo-genetic omni-consciousness, FWIW.
But for practical reasons, I think our world is better off without religious indoctrination. What I usually serve to believers resembles the following:
I'm an atheist: I don't believe in God. I certainly don't believe in anything like an external divinity that human beings would be separated from. My rationale is that there is no need to believe in order to live a healthy, happy, fulfilling life, to bring joy and integrity wherever and whenever possible, to consider everyone else as an equal, to fight oppression, to seek truth and debunk lies, to show respect and nurture fraternity, and embrace wisdom. I don't believe in sins, in Hell nor in Heaven, in life after death nor in resurrection nor reincarnation, in any supernatural or transcendental being or phenomenon. If such a thing exists, I bet it would rather like my position, than the one of a true believer who would sin during the week and be absolved for a fee during the week-end, fear some invisible entity to the point of paralysis and blind acceptance of authority, whether legitimate or not, and hopeful that something better will happen "in the next life". I try and respect others own beliefs as I expect them to respect mine. But I oppose fallacy, hypocrisy, and corruption whenever I can.
Believe it or not, this position makes it very explicit who "got" the "message of God" and who didn't.
I've met a whole lot of believers of different faiths, and some of them are not only happy, but also interesting people involved in progressive matters, even more so than some types of self-righteous so-called atheists who are mere survivors of cult abuses and won't ever recover from being brainswashed. Therefore, I go happily on my way of political and militant atheist, both against the religious establishment and the abusive right-doers of hellraiser-atheism: stupidity is worse than credulity.
I wonder, Wanderer, if that's not a political argument hiding as a philosophical position.
But I also seriously drifted from the original topic, so if you're interested we can continue that discussion in another, more appropriate thread :)
The only political positioning that makes any sense at all from a logical standpoint for an atheist is the politics of "green". The Greens are THE ONLY party that rely on science and reasoning for a vast majority of its positions. Of course, I concede that participants within various green party may be, in theory, just as dishonest as those in all other parties. But in an ideal world, Greens (neither left nor right, nor centre, but logically and scientifically). Within this framework, it is possible that some resulting Green societies might be more communally orientated, or more libertarian orientated, but the foundation of each society would still have a profound understanding of the harms done to ourselves through the harm done to the physical environment and all its inhabitants.
Historically, atheists have been more aligned with left wing politics, I think it's because atheist circles have been dominated by Humanists. But I am uninterested in further advancing the Homo sapiens cause at the cost of all others, so the Humanist manifesto goes against all I think is necessary for human contentment among all other earthlings. We need more balance to achieve some degree of social justice.
Glen, you ask, "Does the individual who has lost her faith also jettison the morality of superstition?"
I wish we would all jettison the IM morality of superstition? I think we are just as selfish as everyone else. We're just smarter. Just think of the biblical teaching that the other animals are here for our use. It's not true, but how many of us have stopped exploiting them? WE often throw out god, but hold tight to those teachings that give us license to behave badly, and feel superior, and justified.
Wanderer, agree completely concerning the nature of atheism. I do however hold out hope that atheists in general are kinder and less apt to embrace various forms of discrimination which are in large measure derived from religion. Of course this cant be fully judged unless and until atheists have institutional power. Islam is more destructive today than christianity simply because it is more powerful among its adherents.
What will atheists do? If an atheistic community forms but political leanings are not defined who can say how politics and mores will emerge?