it's actually rather refreshing to read comments from young people who have engaged their brains enough to consider belief or lack of it. I can assure you, it's not always an easy road, and if your family is committed to some form of belief your challenges will be even greater. Stick with it, keep thinking and examining, and don't fall for the bulls**t.

I'm an old broad (I can say that, but mind your manners about repeating it *G*), and cannot honestly remember a time when I actually believed in any of this stuff. I do recall, in prep school, one of the masters actually braving the opinion that man created god in his own image - and everything suddenly made sense. The door opened - and it was OK to be a non-believer. Granted - that master didn't remain at the school long, but the job was done.

My family, fortunately, wasn't especially religious - and I did learn a lot about personal responsibility and conscience from the Quaker masters in my schools. Take the good, avoid the bad/destructive. And THINK!

But living this way has always been a challenge - whether you're chastized or ridiculed or damned or just given odd looks from people convinced that they would see you sprout horns and a tail if they just were persistent. I've found personal integrity critical, and personal tolerance even more critical - my friends persist in trying to 'convert' me to believing, and though it's rude to tune them out, I find I do that more and more as I get older. But I don't stop them from trying - though I do remind them that by acting upon their belief that they have the right to try to impose their beliefs on me, they're offering me the opportunity to try to impose mine on them.

That tends to shut them up, thankfully.

By demonstrating compassion, responsibility, tolerance, and intelligence you can generally take the wind out of their sails. Sometimes that's about the most you can expect from people, especially those who are so committed to their belief that alternate perspectives simply don't exist in their world-view.

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