So what is a true atheist? An atheist simply is one that does not believe in a divine being or creator. Can he/she prove this belief? No. But neither can the Deist. If god exists, it cannot be seen under a microscope nor from the strongest telescope. Yet the Psalmist proclaimed, "The heavens declare the glory of god (elohim - mighty one)." That is from a Deist. The atheist would say, the heavens declare natural law in motion - no need for a god. I'm really not sure if the problem is in the belief or non-belief in a god, or if the problem more lies in the religions that represent this god. Our religion comes from our culture. Culture is based on what a people believe at any one time. If the Psalmist knew what we knew now in science, maybe the Psalm would have read differently. We can't blame the writer - he was simply a product of his times.
Can science actually/positively say there is no creator who jump started everything we see in this universe? No. Can religion prove the existence of a god? No. Humans are not content unless they can find some kind of box they can climb into that identifies them for what they believe. So, should I be in the 'atheist' box, or the 'deist' box? Most people I believe walk that middle path that we call 'agnostic.' It seems the safer of the two, yet both atheist and deist would consider the agnostic a weaklink, someone who will not make a stand either way.
I take no pride calling myself atheist, deist, or agnostic. I am a human being whose leanings may sway from day to day. Most deists have moments of doubt. And so do atheists, if they are honest. How can one be absolutely sure that what they believe is right? We can't. We walk by the knowledge and understanding we have at any particular moment. Some moments I may want to praise something beyond myself. Other times I may want to curse this same entity or idea. History shows that a mad atheist can be just as destructive as a mad deist.
I say don't worry about titles, or boxes. Just follow your heart and your understanding the best you can and be true to yourself. If I were to choose a box, it would be the box called 'Freethinker.' That is a title I can feel at peace with.
It's not science that says there's no creator, but logic, James.
Can science actually/positively say there is no creator who jump started everything we see in this universe?
"Create" is a word human beings invented to apply to certain kinds of activities such as molding clay, making up a song or dance, building or sculpting. It refers to human activities which produce a product. To take that word and apply it to the entire universe is to stretch it far beyond the context in which it makes sense. Metaphors have limits. This one is illogical because it doesn't just go outside of the set (human activities that produce a product), it jumps to an "outside" of the "universe" of that set, and of all the sets of the-universe-as-we-know-it. You can put together the words "and now divide by zero and multiply by infinity," but that doesn't mean they make sense. Religious memeplexes are inherently nonsense. As soon as you apply the word "believe" to this nonsense you enter into territory of "What does it mean to say "believe in" applied to something that's nonsense?"
AN has a group for making up your own religion. How about the Great God Round-Square? Do you believe in Round-Square? The thing is, that part of our brain that distinguishes what's true and real isn't capable of logic, or even of language. It's part of the primitive brain. Fortunately, we do have a cerebral cortex that can question such gut feelings. Horray!
I've just seen this on another forum (jref, someone has a friend who claims to be an atheist, but who believes in a LOT of conspiracy theories. It seems this person rejects ALL popular/common explanations for things, eliminating both religion and common sense). Being an atheist does not necessarily mean being more logical or reasonable than others.
It's hard to know how many do what, but my guess is MOST atheists come to this position (or remain in this position) through reason and the lack of evidence for any deity despite innumerable claims of such existence. Others might not have given it much thought, if any at all.
"...reason is the afterthought to justify the choice...."
Are you speaking for yourself, or for all humankind?