My (only slightly) tongue-in-cheek response to the question is from the gospel of South Park 10:12 (Go God Go).
The Stone and The Parker sayeth unto you:
"By this time, Eric Cartman has become cold enough to enter suspended animation, and a freak avalanche buried his body. In a montage that spoofs the opening credits of the late-1970s TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, it is revealed that Cartman ultimately remains frozen for over five centuries, until being discovered and thawed out by members of the Unified Atheist League (UAL).
In the year 2546, the entire world is atheistic and dedicated to rationality and science. Atheism is divided into several denominations. People go to war and courageously fight to defend their country in the name of Science and Almighty Logic. This is different from the atheist world thought by Dawkins. The UAL explains everything of what happened to him and that his family and friends have been dead for over 500 years, but he doesn't care about it. However, Cartman is horrified to learn that no one in the future plays video games, including the Wii.
On their way to the Ancient Technology Museum in search of a Wii console, the UAL comes under attack by a rival group, the United Atheist Alliance (UAA). After a fierce battle that leaves all the UAL members dead and Cartman a UAA hostage, the group is contacted by yet another faction, the Allied Atheist Allegiance (AAA) -- who are super-intelligent sea otters at war with the humans of the UAL and UAA over world domination and the best name for atheists. The Otter King threatens to smash Cartman's skull "like a clam on my tummy."
I'm not a natural skeptic. I believed in god and just about anything until about my mid twenties. Even Von Daniken. But then I started to question everything and now in my fifties I realise the "evidence" for such things is very weak and can't be taken seriously. Even theists are Atheists because they disbelieve in every god but theirs. Atheists just go one god further.
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?