I was just starting an episode of Dexter, where he is trying to enroll his son in a preschool. It's Catholic preschool that was recommended to him, and he's checking it out. The nun says to him, "Then Dexter, you must be a Catholic." He gazes at a bloody crucifix of Christ with nails and red paint dripping from his wounds. "No, he replies," while he thinks to himself, "... but I will admit it has a certain appeal."
"So you're not Catholic," confirms the nun. "Jewish then?"; "Nope.": "Protestant?" ; "Ahh, nope."; Then with a befuddled look of concern, she asks, "Muslim?"; "Nope."; "Well what do you believe in then, Dexter?"
This question has always bothered me, made me uncomfortable. I believe it's perhaps an unintended setup that leads to a "Gotcha!" I can never remember this part, and I waited to see what he would say. Unlike me, "He thought pensively, and replied, "Nothing."
Great answer, I think.
The reason is, there is no real intention of inquiring if you believe the sun will rise in the morning. Basically, it's an inquiry about your own woo, which helps the theist justify his own. ie everyone has to believing something. All the better if it's demonstrably silly. Even if you answer, "I think the sun will rise in the morning," or something similar, the next question is, "But how do you know for sure?" And things invariably go no where if not over a cliff at that point.
A good answer can be simply, "I don't believe in anything," because the question hides in an equivocation. The belief being referred to is not the same as the belief a non believer is talking about. The two meanings are more unrelated than one definition would imply. And it requires a bit of mental gymnastics to meet at a common ground and ends up often confusing the issue.
We've had discussions about this before, but this was like an insight for me. "I don't believe in anything," is uncomforting, but no more so than the attempted discussion is apt to be.
You could use it to embark on the semantics of "believe", but that's really a waste of time for both parties, and accomplishes little, except with an astute theist that would try and not change the subject back to, "But there is a God. He's real. Bla, bla. And if you do embark on the semantics you will know where it's going in short order.
I think this helps me because it gives me a better understanding of the dynamics of such a conversation. The resolution of the question remains out of reach, but understanding the dynamic makes it less uncomfortable.