Emergence - I can see where you are coming from, and it does make sense. In my concession regarding a decision to be atheist, I was thinking about my own very conscious decision to call myself atheist. I like the word, I like what it stands for, and I truly like how it makes many people feel these days. It conjures emotions from some people that are ripe for discussion. It causes others to get angry.
In my case, if I examine my life carefully, it is easy to see that I was never a believer. I always had heavy doubts and skepticism when I was young. I even remember learning about the Greek and Roman gods, and realizing that I was attending Catholic masses where all of the adults were dutifully worshiping a mythological god. I concluded that it was something you just don't question (especially in the Roman Catholic ritualistic ceremonies.)
Anyway, I believe we each have to consider what we believe, and decide to believe it, if we want to be truly honest. But I can see that it is highly likely that most people don't get to choose their beliefs. I'm reminded of many atheists, including myself, who would not hesitate to say that they could never "decide" to believe. At least not without suspending the more rational approach to understanding something.
The distinctions in this discussion are: is a newborn technically atheist, or does a newborn have to consciously call itself atheist.
To the newborn, it is pointless. To me, it is more technically correct to state that newborns default to being non-religious, and unaware of any gods, thus - not theists. Jaimehlers is trying to argue that one must decide to be atheist. Well, I decided to call myself atheist, but I have never actually been a theist. So I have always been atheist, but I only recently decided to label myself that way.
I think it is important to note that using the label atheist is similar to using the label homosexual (the label that carries baggage that is difficult for many to handle, be they homophobic, or homosexual.) It is not easy to live in a society with either label - so most people keep it to themselves. It took me over 40 years to discover who I really am, and to stand firmly behind it, with no apologies.
John 3 16 - I don't want to deny people their personal beliefs. But I will not give those beliefs credibility when they are patently and conclusively wrong. There are no real gods, anywhere, nor at any time in human history. All gods are imaginary, it really is that simple. I am an atheist that knows that there are no absolutes, so I am aware that I can never prove that there are no gods. But in the end, every single made up god - and you know that most are made up - has died over time. The one you currently believe is real, is also made up. That's why there are atheists. I have said many times that if there was a real god, there would be no atheists. There might be people who do not worship that god, and there might be a fringe group who deny it's existence - just like people today who still deny that the earth is not flat (google it). But none of that would dictate the realness of the god - any more than denying the existence of a mountain, or the pacific ocean.
Apparently, it is harmless for children to be lied to about the existence of Santa, because everyone knows that Santa is not real, and that he does not hold the key to eternal salvation. But God, well, as the story goes, he MUST be real because he DOES hold the key to eternal salvation. And how do we know God is real? We read it in a book! So, there you go. God is real, because people wrote it down a very long time ago, and they mentioned that your eternal salvation is dependent on your faith and belief in God. I cannot imagine why people are afraid to grow up and drop their delusion. Scared shitless.