I just read this excellent article, which I suggest you read too.
The article states several points well, but what really struck me was when the author mentioned being accused of not truly being an atheist. I’ve been criticized with that too, and I’ve also seen that criticism used in more general terms by theists when debating atheists on Facebook atheist versus theist debating groups.
It seems to underpin a particularly strange belief, one perhaps best paraphrased with their own meme’s line “There are no atheists in foxholes”. A belief that is, of course, utterly mistaken. (A belief possibly rooted in psychological projection. A person who can not comprehend disbelief might think, deep down, that everybody else also believes. Hence there are no real atheists, just believers who believe the opposite of theists. So to such people, atheism is an ideology or a religion that represents the polar opposite of theism.)
Often the criticism comes from the point of view that my (or others) admission that we do not know (and can not know) that there is a creator, must mean that we are not truly atheists, but rather are agnostics. Often when debating in groups, those kind of comments are targeted at “science” in general terms, as if, since science can not explain how life originated, we should discard evolution and choose instead to believe in the nonsense made up by primitive people thousands of years ago. In reality, there is plenty that science doesn’t know, and that’s OK. There is plenty that I don’t know too, but it doesn’t mean that I should accept magic.
It comes down to an apparent misunderstanding of what atheism is. I am perfectly comfortable to say that I don’t know certain things, like where the universe came from and how life originated. I’m also perfectly comfortable to say that I am absolutely certain that every single god ever worshipped by man, was also created by man. So while I can’t deny that a theoretical god might exist, I can and do deny the existence of every god that every person has ever believed in. If that doesn’t make me an atheist, I do not know what it makes me. I certainly do not believe in any god or gods, and that makes me an atheist by definition… a label I am proud of.
So please do not redefine what you believe atheism to be when atheists don’t fit into your mould. Consider instead that your impression of atheism is wrong. I have spoken to enough other atheists by now to be quite confident that, even though I came to my views and beliefs (and lack thereof) completely alone, I am a fairly typical atheist. So don’t tell me I’m not just because you don’t understand. It’s annoying.