It's an odd day that Wired Magazine says something that I think is insightful and important, but that day is today - Battle of the New Atheism is an excellent article reviewing differences between hard atheists (to which I belong), religious folk, and liberal agnostics/atheists who want to reform (liberalise/remove fundamentalist aspects) but not necessarily eliminate religion. As I've talked about this often on my blog, I'll simply drop the most interesting quotes..
from page 3:
This type of conversation takes place ... on the West Coast, among technical and scientific people, possibly the social group that is least likely among all Americans to be religious. Most of these people call themselves agnostic, but they don't harbor much suspicion that God is real. They tell me they reject atheism not out of piety but out of politeness. As one said, "Atheism is like telling somebody, 'The very thing you hinge your life on, I totally dismiss.'" This is the type of statement she would never want to make.
Typical atheists are hardly the rabble-rousing evangelists that Dawkins or Harris might like. They are an older, peaceable, quietly frustrated lot, who meet partly out of idealism and partly out of loneliness. Here in Los Angeles, every fourth Sunday at 11 a.m., there is a meeting of Atheists United. More than 50 people have shown up today, which is a very good turnout for atheism. Many are approaching retirement age.
The New Atheists never propose realistic solutions to the damage religion can cause. For instance, the Catholic Church opposes condom use, which makes it complicit in the spread of AIDS. But among the most powerful voices against this tragic mistake are liberals within the Church -- exactly those allies the New Atheists reject. The New Atheists care mainly about correct belief. This makes them hopeless, politically.
By and large, I fit more in the theoretical of the first quote (in that I totally dismiss religious claims) than the second (although there's a bit of both in there for me - atheism makes dating different). On the third, I'm not sure if it describes me well - I do care pretty strongly about what I see as correct belief (in contrast to some friends of mine - I think humanists might be said not to care about it as given in the Secular Humanist charter, which suggests a focus on practical rather than philosophical matters), but I also care about Enlightenment Liberalism (as I understand it) and Marxism, and I think it's important to find common cause when prudent with those that are good on some but not all of these axes in order to try to advance all three.