Apparently, John Gray believes there are different flavors of Atheism. I am sure I can come up with more then Gray's five. Wasn't it Christopher Hitchens who proclaimed Protestant atheism, or something to that effect, when asked if he was a Catholic non believer or a Protestant non believer? It appears that even Atheists are at odds with their beliefs and religion.
Gray identified five strains of Atheism:
1. Science-Oriented Atheism. An atheism that grounds itself in scientific modes of understanding, and the discourse of science. My notes are unclear on this point, so I won't say anything more.
2. Ultra-Protestant Atheism. This kind of atheism rests strongly on the idea of individual autonomy, and holds that one shouldn't take anything on authority. Gray thinks this is rooted in Protestantism.
3. Non-Humanist Atheism. Arthur Schopenhauer, Gray says, is a good example of this orientation. Schopenhauer didn't like Christianity or the churches, but he also believed that atheism is its own thing, and owes nothing to science. Science and atheism are, to use Stephen Jay Gould's phrase, "non-overlapping magisteria." One doesn't have anything to do with the other. (It's my sense from reading Gray's work that this would describe his own position -- this, combined with Naturalistic Atheism, see below.)
4. Anti-Liberal Atheism. Friedrich Nietzsche, for example. It as actively anti-liberal, and contemptuous of liberal values. In Gray's view, this is completely logical. Liberal values - ideals of toleration - come straight out of Judaism and Christianity, says Gray. Nietzsche viciously attacked liberalism precisely because of its Christian values (it pitied the weak, for example, and was a slave religion that honored what was contemptible in man, in Nietzsche's view).
5. Naturalistic Atheism. The idea that religion is a normal part of life, that if you try to eliminate the religious sense from life, you're going to get repression of natural instincts. It's a benign or favorable attitude toward religion as a natural expression of what it means to be human. It's interesting to reflect, says Gray, on how atheist regimes -- Revolutionary France, Soviet Russia, the Third Reich -- have quickly adapted a secular sacerdotal gloss, becoming political religions with their own pantheons of saints and sacraments, to speak to the religious sense within man. This sort of atheist isn't threatened by religion, and in fact sees religion as satisfying an important instinct within human beings -- but it must be kept in its place.
Gray added that Atheists cannot deal with the fact that atheism in power has been horrifically deadly, because it would deny the basic dogma of their faith: that atheism leads to liberation and redemption, and that their project of liberating people from their traditions and their history also severs them from their humanity.
Do you have another category that you follow? Maybe you all should have a council of sorts, like Council of Necia, to determine what is, and is not, to be believed.
As a Christian I enjoy being identified by what I believe. It must be horribly difficult to be labeled for something you don't believe. That list is too extensive for me. Proclaiming to be a Non Santa Atheist, for example, seems to be a pointless label. So does Atheism for that matter.