I was wary of joining this site for a long time because of this very discussion. I don't want to define myself as an atheist. I'm Ryan. My name is the last label I should give myself upon introduction. By defining myself, and being part of a group, I am placing myself in a box no different than any other label. It's a very frustrating habit.
No, I do not think atheism exists. I try and make it a habit of saying when I talk to other people in the context of religion, "Others would call me an atheist," making a specific point that I do not use that term to describe myself (even though I catch myself in the trap from time to time). I am as extreme towards labels as I am towards religion. Labels do not grant any sort of power to the speaker, but to the listener, and that pisses me off.
Most of us go through this phase . . . we reject the negative connotations of the label, "atheist". But in the end, you either believe in God or not. Atheism does not require denial of God: just the acknowledgment that God is exceedingly unlikely to exist.
There's nothing wrong with the label of "atheist". Just as there's nothing wrong with the label of "Democrat", "conservative", "vegetarian" or "omnivore".
I have a question for you Fred. It would seem as if your life experiences have taught you certain conclusions. Conclusions that we can safely say now shapes your world view. Do you think that your experience has afforded you a clear perspective on the world? You don't have to answer me here, you can message me if you please. But I am rather curious to hear your answer.
Yes we know your name is Ryan, but Ryan believes something. And the thing that Ryan believes, Ryan becomes. You live your life according to your belief system. Right!? So Ryan lives as an Atheist. Or Ryan's life is Atheism. You are a believer of the church of Atheism. Does that sound better?
You said you were wary of this site, so why did you come back? Is it curiosity or is there something you want to affirm by coming back?