Bart Ehrman has a post up featuring an interview on his agnosticism. (If you’re short on time, the most relevant part is at the 2:12 point.)
As someone who myself isn’t a religious believer, but who also strives to be honest on what the limitations of knowledge are in this area, I find a lot to agree with in Ehrman’s comments. (Although unlike Ehrman, the philosophical problem of evil isn’t the overriding cause of my non-belief. For me, Biblical issues are definitely one of the factors.)
I long ago lost interest in the atheist versus agnosticism definitional debates, which is why you usually see me refer to myself simply as a non-believer and leave it at that. Most people know what that means and it usually steps around the “faith in no-God” or “wimpy atheist” arguments. When I describe my beliefs (or in this case the lack of them), I typically find that I’m claimed by both camps, which is fine since I consider myself to be both.
My observation is that whatever their epistemological position, people’s preference for one label or another has more to do with their attitude toward religion. I went through my anti-religious phase, but outgrew it, although I remain a staunch opponent of fundamentalism. So I’m not aggressive about my disbelief. If you’re a believer and find comfort and meaning in your religion, I have no interest in taking it from you, at least as long as you can respect that I don’t find comfort and meaning in it.
In general, as a moderately liberal non-religious person, I find I have a lot more in common with a liberal believer than I do with, say, an Ayn Rand objectivist. Even though the objectivist and I likely agree on God, we disagree about so many other things that I’m unlikely to see them as much of an ally just because of that one thing we do agree on. My real opposition is to dogmatism, and I find it in many places besides religion, and that many believers are my allies in that opposition.
That being said, even though I often find myself in disagreement with them, I do have to admit that in recent years the New Atheist movement has been a source of comfort. The idea that there are people who’ve come to the same conclusion I did and aren’t afraid to be honest about it (even if they have a tendency to get carried away), that don’t think my non-belief is a reason for guilt, has lifted a burden of sorts.
I remember a political science professor in college pointing out that radicals of a cause can often make room for moderates in that cause to be accepted. A decade ago in The Atheism Tapes, Daniel Dennett said that what was needed were uncompromising atheists, who might not be accepted by the public at large, but who could open up a space behind them for those who might. In that sense, people like Dennett have performed an important service.