In her book Doubt: A History, Jennifer M. Hecht suggests a very useful way to think about and talk about one’s belief or lack thereof. She feels that “it is easier to force yourself to be clear if you avoid using believer, agnostic and atheist [which is relatively new terminology] and just try to say what you think about what we are and what’s out there. Hecht explains:
Divisions that seem more historically stable might include: the sectarian, who accepts the stories, rituals, and rules of his or her own religion as true; the “one-of-many” religionist, who believes all religions are equally true and relate to a thinking, creative force; the meaning and science spiritualist, who interprets the universe as having some force that unifies life and perhaps gives it meaning; the Skeptic, who doesn’t believe we can know anything about anything; the perplexed, who believes knowledge is possible but who identifies him- or herself as personally unresolved; the ritualist, who thinks the universe is a natural phenomenon and we should celebrate our humanity in the ritual and allegory of traditional religion; and the science secularist, who thinks the universe is a natural phenomenon and that religion adds more bad than good. All these people can be doubters — open to the idea that they do not know everything.
I know and respect people in each of those categories, but wish that more people were doubters.