I feel that the abuse of language is at the root of many needless confusions and arguments.
I know that many like to use the word "atheist" for the same reasons that some like to use the words "christian" or "american" - the emotionally evocative nature of the terms for these people.
If you substitute the term "good" for any one of those terms, you'll see that people who use language in this very plastic amorphous way are much less concerned with a discussion of facts and ideas and much more concerned with their irrelevant feelings.
I'm opposed to the old maxim "I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care."
I much prefer "I don't care how much you care until I know how much you know."
I find that most "atheists" and most "christians" feel too much, think too little, are inconsistent within themselves, their lives, their behaviour and their arguments.
They also seem to be rather touchy when it comes to having this pointed out to them.
Back to the term, "atheist".
The usage of the term suggests that the person has taken up an unassailable position, and that he or she is not open to discussion.
The natural response to this sort of self-presentation is, "Have you always "felt" this way? What path did you take to arrive at this position? What is your exposition on the impossibility of the existence of these higher entities?"
What then follows is an affirmation of your suspicions as to the rigid mindset, with a flippant, emotional snarl "Why should I have to prove X? The default position is X." These then reveal the depths of their ignorance of the reasons for these discussions in a manner simply the mirror image of the close-minded bible-koran-talmud thumping fundamentalist.
Why continue discussing anything with someone like this?
I suppose if you just want to explore and catalogue emotional reactions on the part of people taking up various positions, this might be worthwhile, but if you're not doing any research along these lines then it seems to be a collosal waste of time.
Sure, everyone engages in this sort of thing, but after some time a wise person, a person capable of learning will be saturated with this sort of experience and move on to seek alternate stimulation.