Both Luke at Common Sense Atheism and Sabio at Triangulations have presented taxonomic breakdowns of the sort of differences one finds between atheists. I thought it might be worth laying out my own position. See their blog posts for some of the other alternatives in these categories. I have not used all of their categories, but the following covers the most important points:
I’ve discussed some of these before. I prefer to call myself a humanist. I am also an atheist, agnostic, skeptic, and freethinker.
Level of certainty:
On Dawkins’ scale of 1 (strong belief in a god or gods) to 7 (strong belief in no god), I generally fall around 4. For most specific claims that I’ve heard made by particular religions, I fall closer to 6 or 7.
Level of affirmation:
I am an implicit (or “weak” or “negative”) atheist: I withhold belief in the apparent absence of evidence. I do not assert that there is no god; I simply decline to assert that there is a god.
Broad – I apply the same lack of belief to all god-claims I have encountered.
I am open about my beliefs, though I am cautious around new acquaintances and certain family members. I am (obviously) quite open online.
Degree of action:
I affirm my beliefs, I blog about them, and I donate to humanist-themed charities.
Degree of enchantment:
I am a very enchanted naturalist. I find the natural world (including all of us) to be a truly wonderful place, and am delighted to have some time to experience it and grow to understand it.
I am somewhat mystical, as I understand the term. Although I enjoy knowing and understanding things, I find a certain amount of delight in thinking about things that my understanding doesn’t (or cannot) penetrate.
I incline to believe in an entirely natural universe, with no transcendent personal nature (no god or ur-consciousness). I am flatly agnostic on the question of a prime mover (the deists’ god).
View of reason:
Reason is the discipline that most reliably allows our deeply-held values to be expressed in effective action. It is indispensible for leading a fully authentic life.
In the absence of proof (or even the possibility of proof in principle), I believe that my perceptions are caused by real objects and events. I believe that the past is a generally-reliable guide to the future.
Stance toward religion:
I am relatively indifferent toward beliefs. Though I am often curious what people believe and why, I am rarely inclined to condemn beliefs in themselves. As for religiously-motivated actions, I respond to on their individual merits (as I do actions in general).
I attend a weekly Unitarian service. I sing along to most of the hymns. Is that religious participation? Not to me, though I guess that largely depends how widely you define religion.
I am a lifelong non-believer. I’ve “tried out” Paganism, Mormonism, and more mainline Christianity. That is, I have explored them as different ways of approaching the world, and dipped my toe in the practices associated with each. But I never adopted the beliefs though (so far as I can recall).
Theory of religion:
I am far from certain about this, and am content to leave explanations to those who study it more rigorously (sociologists and psychologists, that is, not theologians). From what I understand of their findings, I suspect that the existence of religion in the apparent absence of supernatural reality is due to some combination of adaptive cognitive biases and historical accident.
Degree of secular superstitious thinking:
I have bad habits, and habits that are not harmful but are not grounded in reason, but I don’t know of any that could be called superstitious.
I hope that this has helped to clarify some of my positions, and perhaps further elucidate what I mean when I call myself an atheist. As with any such declaration, I reserve the right to change my mind about things as I learn more about myself and about the universe around me.
How about you? How would you fill in the above categories?