Do you call yourself an atheist?
I prefer not to use the term. Although I guess I am an atheist. I just don't believe in God. I've always liked Thomas Huxley's term, "agnostic," by which he meant it's an unknowable, insoluble problem from a scientific point of view. By my personality, I'm comfortable with not having the answer to everything. I'm perfectly happy going through my day, thinking, I really wish I knew the answer to that but I don't. I have a very high tolerance for ambiguity. Most people get cognitively dissonant about having uncertainties and need to close that loop and have an answer.
That's from the Salon interview with Michael Shermer, who writes the 'Skeptic' column in the Scientific American. [Caution: Salon requires that you view an ad before you get to the good stuff. This interview is worth it.]
Here's a bit about his early experiences with religion:
I was in high school when one of my best friends talked me into being born again. So I just went along with it, and it seemed to work for me, although my stepbrothers and -sisters always gave me a hard time about being a Jesus freak.
Still, I felt that if I'm going to take this seriously, I should be proactive about it. That includes challenging people and speaking out. I even went door-to-door in Malibu. Although it was anxiety-producing to walk up to strangers' houses and say, "Hi, I'm here to tell you about Jesus." You were also supposed to tell people that you loved them. I remember telling that to a girl who actually liked me. And she took that the wrong way. I had to correct her. No, I don't mean it that way, I mean it in the agape way, the kind of love that C.S. Lewis talks about, the love for your fellow humans. I can't believe I did that. Although I guess in a way I'm doing the same thing, only now I do it through public lectures and books: "Hi, I'm here to tell you about Darwin."