Don't tell me you never had this question asked to you, subsequently to your, usually politely, explaining to whoever asks about your religion, that you're an atheist and do not believe in any god; you're an atheist and do not believe that a god exists; or whatever combination of words you choose.
That's pretty much how it goes.
Even people who know that atheists do not believe in a god will sometimes still assume they share a common set of beliefs or principles, and have common political tendencies.
"So, what do atheists believe?", is their question.
If you ask me, I've had a wide variety of comebacks, depending on my mood at the moment, most of them facetious, but most likely, after explaining that atheists (as a group) do not have a common set of beliefs, I say that *I* believe in love, in humanity and our good faith... just to keep it simple... because, quite frankly, we don't "believe" in science - we find it verifiable. We don't "believe" in the universe and its wonders, we have seen them through amazing telescopes. I guess you get my point.
So what do you, fellow atheist, believe in, or what do you think is the best answer to this question?
Side note: This discussion is focused rather on the best comeback to the question in it, which in this specific context, is always asked as "opposed to your non-belief in god, what do atheists believe?"
Ask them if they accept gravity as a scientific fact. (The scientific theory of gravity explains the observed fact of gravity in the real world.)
Creationists are very sly in in their attempts to get atheists to say that they "believe in science" in order to falsely place creationism and evolution on the same level of discussion.
I agree. Seeing as most schools don't seem to do it, I guess it's up to atheists to explain the differences between "scientific theory" (ie, the best falsifiable explanation that we have for what happens in the real world - eg, the theory of evolution), "theory" as used in common speech or by specific non-scientific groups (ie, an idea - eg, creation theory), and observation (ie, what we can actually see in the real world - eg, evidence for evolution). It's usually an uphill battle, but keep at it.
"detrimental to the progression of humanity"
You really hit the nail through the hand.. er.. on the head. Perfect way to put it, dude.
I believe that the scientific method gives us the closest approximation to the truth that we can ever possibly get.
I believe that a secular society is the best way to build a multi cultural society, where you can basically do anything you want under the law... if you chose to impose more laws on yourself (e.g. religious laws) then you can do that (to yourself!).
I believe the climate is changing due to the MASSIVE amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. I also believe that nature will either adapt or correct this problem, with bigger storms, melting ice, w/e.
I believe that evolution is another one of those natural things that we can copy... it will provide good answers to questions (not necessarily the best possible answers).
I believe in being a nice person and not wilfully negatively impacting another persons life. Small things like holding the elevator door open for 5 seconds to let another person in, instead of letting the doors close and making that person wait a couple of minutes for the next elevator.
Oh what? you meant what do I believe about God? I don't believe in God...(note the very careful wording here)
Actually, hard-line atheism is just another belief, like any religion. You can't factually prove God doesn't exist. Thus, agnosticism ("I see no evidence of God") is a far more defensible position. It's a belief, too, but not the sort of belief that paints itself into a corner with a statement that really can't be proven. I tell people I'm an atheistic agnostic. I don't believe God exists based on the absence of evidence, but I'm open-minded enough to consider new evidence, though I can't even imagine what it could be.
"Actually, hard-line atheism is just another belief, like any religion. You can't factually prove God doesn't exist."
I can't agree with those statements. Atheism is a LACK OF BELIEF in invisible entities of any form. The onus is on the person who states something does exist. Science is not in the business of proving negatives.
No, it's a DISbelief. When stated as "God does not exist" (as many "atheists" do) it is a statement of belief. A lack of belief isn't atheism because that is also the state of someone who really hasn't ever thought much about it. I would hesitate to call people like that even agnostics, much less atheists.
It always frustrates me when anyone equates atheism with belief. And saying that agnosticism is a much more defensible position is ludicrous. When someone asks you, "What do you believe?", do you respond with, "I don't know"? If so, you have absolutely no concept of your own core value system! To not know your own beliefs is impossible. If you believe something, you believe in it wholeheartedly. You cannot "half-believe" something. To have a belief in something is to assert to yourself and the world that you hold something to be true, regardless of what anyone else says. This is why there are no such things as agnostics. Nobody is going to say that they don't know what their own beliefs are. You can answer "Is there a god?" with "I'm not sure", but this would make you, by definition, an atheist. I say that because, in demonstrating a lack of belief, you declare yourself an atheist. That's it. There's no magical formula for becoming an atheist; once you have doubt, you cease to believe. You can't believe and doubt at the same time. Therefore, I can say that I truly do not know if there is a god, but I do know that I have seen no concrete evidence of any. If that were to change, I would change my answer to the first question. "Yes, there is a god, because I have seen proof of him/her/it/them." This is proof of atheism. People seem to think that in order to be an atheist, you have to assert that you KNOW there is no god. This is untrue; all you have to do is doubt-and doubting is easy.
When someone asks you, "What do you believe?", do you respond with, "I don't know"?
Like you said, if you believe something, you believe it wholeheartedly. A strong hard-core atheist who is willing to engage in arguments over it is obviously a believer of sorts.
Agnosticism admits of various stripes. I'm an agnostic myself, an atheistic agnostic. I do believe that God doesn't exist, not because I have a proof, but due to the absence of credible evidence and the flaws in the arguments offered on behalf of his existence. It is my current state. I find it hard to believe anyone could change my mind, because it'd have to be based on evidence, but I like to think my mind is open.
If your position is merely that you "doubt" his existence, well doubt is a state of confusion in which one notion and its opposite are equally believable, or where insufficient information exists to make a choice. Doubt is actually indecision and it isn't a stance.
Atheism is a stance.
You seem to me to be an agnostic.
Your self-appointed label has one word too many! If you say you are an agnostic atheist, you should just say that you're an atheist! You can't "not know" if you believe in god or not, then label yourself an atheist in the same breath! If you believe that god doesn't exist, you're an atheist. Regardless of whether or not you KNOW if god exists or not, which nobody can, if you say that you don't believe in god, you have become an atheist. I fail to see what is difficult about this logic. You don't have to say, "I KNOW there is no god" to be an atheist. This seems to be the hang-up. I don't see what is so bad about declaring yourself to be an atheist instead of an agnostic-atheist when both stances are saying "I don't know" to different variations of the same question. Atheism is saying "I don't know" to "Is there a god?", while agnosticism is saying "I don't know" to "Do you believe in god?". There is a difference in the two only in the fact that the atheist is more self-aware. I'm not bashing agnostics here; I used to identify myself as one. All I'm saying is that, in most cases, if you're identifying yourself as an agnostic, you are most likely an atheist who is too timid to admit it.
I believe in that which is reasonable, logical and/or is supported by scientific evidence.