I’m going to give a talk next month on atheists and stereotypes next month. It occurs to me that “atheist” is not a natural kind, and I’m wondering if the following analogy might help to bring this across.
People who don’t believe in a God are like people who don’t drink bottled water. Statistically speaking, the group might have some noticeable characteristics, but you’re still lumping distinct subgroups together. People who refuse bottled water might be, statistically speaking, more likely to be environmentally conscious. But only some people refuse bottled water because it is environmentally a bad idea. There are also others who stay away from bottled water for entirely different reasons: because it’s a waste of money when tap water is just as good, because they can’t afford it, because they just haven’t developed the habit, etc. etc. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to generalize about non-drinkers of bottled water as if this was a coherent, natural grouping of people.