I deem agnosticism to be the mushy middle, whereas Buddhism and non-traditional spirituality are two aspects of the radical spiritual center.I call myself an atheist primarily because I do not see any reason to think God, traditionally described, exists. I might cast my self as a pantheist in the model of Einstein but don't on linguistic grounds; Einstein stretched the word too far. Also, though some religions are non-theistic, I see no reason to suppose a belief system is particularly likely to be true just because it is old.
I anticipate these kind of debates might proceed in the following manner. I feel kind of sorry for the theists, especially if they adhere to one traditional religion. Such a straw man--the atheists will beat it to death.
However, once the theist relinquishes traditional religious notions, especially western ones, the theist, if skillful, becomes a much more formidable opponent.
If moderately skillful, the theist, can at least force the atheist to a draw. If more skillful, he can win--in the following manner. Western religion proposes ludicrous kindergarten level metaphysics. Atheism denies metaphysics completely: an unlikely position which cannot answer basic philosophical questions and which asserts that no fundamental paradigm shift will occur in the sciences though many have occurred before...
I can only take so much before I start mocking the Christians for their "baby metaphysics," and I harrass the atheists for their pyrrhic victory. Congratulations for you have convinced yourself that the only purpose in the world is the one you make up, and that we live in a souless heartless void. Kudos, o random product of horny competition, whose fundamental being would be altered if but a moment's delay occurred in thy conception. And then I would berate them further. I mean, look if you're going to die anyways, there are better metaphysics for a sensualist. Just claim God is horny like the Greek gods. That way you can be rewarded with eternal hedonism for your own hedonism...
What I consider the core of theism is the belief that there is some higher benevolent structure to the universe. So with this view, it is easy to be a theist yet hold very few traditional beliefs. I like to consider my thoughts on this as an argument for why it is highly likely "something else is going on" as opposed to your traditional "proofs" of God's existence.
Simply put, you can be a theist if you believe that there is some higher something-or-other at work in the universe. You don't have to believe in things like vicarious atonement or the virgin birth.
The weakest points of traditional theism are (1)inability to deal with other religions (2)inability to deal with science (3) inability to address the problem of evil (4) and internal contradictions. Well, they can deal with them, but it looks like a lot of hand-waving and unconvincing rationalization.
The weakest points of atheism are
(1)inability to deal with consciousness (2) inability to deal with humanity's long history of spirituality (3) inability to deal with fundamental philosophical questions (4)inability to explain why we have the physical laws we do. Oh, there are responses to these objections, but they are more hand-waving. At base, imo, atheism is very depressing and requires no less hand-waving than its alternatives...
Adam talks of rejecting traditional religion for eastern/non-traditional religion, even though Buddhism is older than Christianity. In spite of the rejection of "tradition," however, the interest in Buddhism speaks to a misguided reverence for what is old. Would anyone say that finding philosophical truth is merely a matter of deciding between Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and the Stoics? No, they try to mold the best philosophy they can, largely without concern for keeping within ancient schools. (As an aside, I think the attempt to find centrist religion is also mistaken).
Whatever may be good in, say Buddhism, I see no reason to think it even somewhat likely that it is all good. For example, I cannot believe, as Buddhism and most religions do, that we survive bodily death. The mind may not be the brain, but it seems likely dependent upon it. Memory decays when the brain does. Perhaps we survive in some sense to be reincarnated without our old memories, but without things like memories, it becomes difficult to say that a certain soul is the same as the one that inhabited a certain body.
Rejection of God as normally conceived and lack of respect for ideas that are merely old: atheism need mean nothing more than that. It is not, to me, the silly arrogance of scientists who think they know everything, as scientists have been doing for a long time. Of course there are great unanswered questions in the world. There is a great discovery to be made, a "paradigm shift" if you will, in explaining consciousness. Yesterday, my philosophy teacher told us it has been argued humans aren't smart enough to understand consciousness, but even this acknowledges there is something to understand. Similarly, the existence of the universe is a profound mystery, though I'll stick with my inability to answer it as every attempt I've seen ends in paradox.
The key is to have only one standard for belief: is it true? If this means being left without an answer to profound questions, so be it. Better confusion with hope of understanding than a fictitious, unsound solution that only distracts from the hunt for meaning