i have never been religious; i have never believed in any gods, not for as long as i have been able to think for myself, and that was at a very young age. however, i consider myself a nontheist rather than an atheist for several reasons:
1. "atheist" is an anti-theist term. i am not anti-theist; i do not honor the question. also, i do not reject only the traditional judeo-christian god; i reject ALL gods: past, present, and future. they are not nice, and they bring out the inherent evil in believers.
2. "atheist" is what people of one set of beliefs call people of a different set of beliefs, although both sets profess a belief in god/s. i do not wish to be part of that melange.
3. "atheist" seems to refer mainly to the "great" judeo-christian god (who is not), while i do not limit myself to only one. the prefix "a-" is a negative; the prefix "non-" is a more comprehensive and at the same time less negative term. it is a rejection without a fight.
4. atheists are considered godless, while i look upon that word as an inherent negative. i prefer to look upon myself as god-free, which is a load off my back and a happier thought. i am not less because i have no gods in my life; i am free of dogma of any kind. it is exhilarating to be positive about it rather than working from a negative terminology.
i agree with Sam Harris that we should not have to call ourselves anything at all, but until that day comes (and i do not see it coming in my lifetime), i will be god-free, not god-less; nontheist rather than atheist.
i consider religions anathema -- they bring out the worst in people. they spread moralities that are at the very least suspect; at the most, destructive. obligatory altruism is not a good; faith is not a good; belief without evidence (faith) is actually bad for homo sapiens. even animals are smarter than that -- they have to be, in all practicality, or they will be eaten.
in our culture, it is those who are god-free who are eaten, but that will inevitably change, as Man matures. religion is for children who need father-figures and who are afraid of death. i am an orphan in the maelstrom, and not unhappy with that thought. i had one father; i need no more. even the "founding fathers" i prefer to call the "Framers," for that is what they did.
religion was invented by men who craved answers to questions. i prefer questions; they are more interesting, and even the interesting answers only lead to more questions, ad infinitum.
finally, i want to thank you for your eloquent and fervent arguments in favor of nonbelief. i am a fan, of course, and i loved "god is not great," "the missionary position," and "the values of the worst family." (hillary the enabler is my least favorite, but bill the perjurer and sexual harasser comes close behind).
keep up the good work. i wish we could have lunch together; we would have a great conversation; of that i am sure. i would like to break bread with, e.g., socrates, voltaire, and ben franklin -- compare those companions to oprah winfrey's obsequious choice: jesus. what a bore! i would be inclined to include thomas jefferson, tom paine, and mark twain, but i self-limited to three.
thank goodness for you.