Were you always an atheist? Were you at one point in time a Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc.? What made you stop believing?

I'm sure we could all give voluminous answers to why we don't believe in a personal god including, but not limited to: Personal, philosophical, scientific, historical, etc. reasons; which are all perfectly valid. But I want to know what spurred you to question your former beliefs and become an atheist.

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I am light as air giddy, fantastically in love with the world and my family and friends, I spend less money because I need less to feel fulfilled. Every pretty sunset and exquisite bloom of a flower is a moment to be beheld as it's own miracle of wonder.

I feel more like a part of the continuum in a way I never did before. There is a reason why I'm here...to continue the path of life. I don't need any more reason than that.
I gotta admit I'm happier and better off this way too.

I've seen surveys that say people tend to be happier, so perhaps it would be better to ask if there's anyone who is not happier having become an atheist... and why?
My friend is Mormon and he has questions, but he ignores them because everyone he knows who follows the Mormon Doctrine flawlessly is happy, and that's what he wants. That makes me sad. :(

I myself am definitely happier now as an Atheist, but I don't accredit that entirely to my change of heart. I was a very depressed child, easily stressed and naturally sad. Going to a small LDS private school did not make things better, and as early as maybe 9 I was asking God to take me from this Earth, and it was so hard to understand why he didn't.

When I do go to church they all talk about how they church blesses their lives and makes them happy. Blesses their lives? Well I don't believe in that. But I think that Christianity can make people happier. Some people need something to believe in, and I don't think everyone would be happier an Atheist. But it's the closest thing I've found to truth, and it really does me happy.
My parents never went to church, nor did they talk about Christianity with me (much less any other religion). They did send me to an Episcopalian (Diet Catholic) private elementary school. They told me that Christianity was all about love, so I love everyone. I went so far to voice my opinion about who I loved, I would say "I love Christians, I love non-Christians, I love Jews, I love the non-believers, I love everyone."

Well....my school didn't love everyone like I did. They would tell me: "non-believers and non-christians are sinners, and are going to hell, and we can't love them until they see the truth." That didn't make much sense to me then, and I would say something along the lines of "as long as you're a good person, you'll go to heaven." Again...my school didn't feel the same way. I also remember the topic of gay marriage coming up in conversation with some of my classmates. They were obviously against it. I said that love is never wrong, and marriage is the ultimate expression of love, so even if a man and man or woman and woman want to be married....its still love, and love isn't wrong. They did not agree.

Then one day I decided that Hell was an awful place, and no loving god would create that, so I stopped believing in hell.

I always asked questions about their beliefs, about heave and hell, angels, and all that non sense. No one seemed to be able to give me a good answer, but I kept believing.

Then one day, when I was about 10 or 11, I came up with the idea that all the gods and goddesses do exist. I noticed how many different religions existed, and all of those people seemed like good people, so obviously there are a number of gods and we get to decide which god is for us. Again, my school frowned upon this idea.

After I left that school I didn't really think about religion much, it was a moot issue. I guess you could have called me a Deist at that point.

Then I started to read about mythology, and philosophy in middle school. That spurred me to ask the big questions about the universe and the supernatural. But I was holding on to that one last grasp of theology, I kept telling myself that there has to be something out there. Then when I was 12-years-old, my dog Booboo got really sick, she was like my child. Well I prayed for her to get better, or to at least stop her from suffering. And there was nothing. I didn't get an answer, she didn't get better, and I felt more alone than ever. That was the day I decided there couldn't be a god.

Of course as I've aged my disbelief in god has evolved. Its mostly scientific reasoning, similar to Dawkins. Once I read his book I was surprised to see so many arguments which I used in the past against fundies. It was great!
Genetics, circumstances, history, reality.

I identified as an atheist in my early teens after reading tons of history. My family wasn't religious so no problem.

After being treated for mental problems in the early 70's I turned to religion in hopes of finding some relief from the illness. I became a "Jesus freak" along with a bunch of other ex-drug users and misfits. After about 2 years of intense bible study, prayer, etc. I came to the conclusion that god hated me as much as I hated myself.

I spent a long time detoxifying my mind from all of that. I found it easier to quit smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day cold turkey, than to stop believing in god.

I sort of lived in a limbo between belief and atheism for a couple decades. Living with untreated mental illness took everything I had.

New medications for my illness became available and changed my life. It allowed me to experience an emotional stability I had never known.

The inception of the internet allowed me to feed my hunger for more knowledge about mental illness, atheism, and science. I re-identified as an atheist 10 or 12 years ago. When I realized I had come full circle and no longer believed I felt a great sense of joy as if I had rediscovered myself.

Science, not gods gave me relief from a terrible illness. I'm fairly open about both my mental problems and my atheism. Needless to say I don't have lot of friends. x]
I don't know if I ever really believed in anything to begin with. If I did, I was so young I'm beyond remembering it. I was just so sure that everyone else knew something I didn't that it was best to fake it and hope someday God would "reveal" himself to me. It never sounded any less crazy, so I eventually decided I was agnostic and avoided the subject for a while.

Then in high school, I became friends with this super-religious girl. She seemed pretty cool until she started to bug me about going to her church. I was weirded out, but we remained friends all through high school, mainly because she had a car and I didn't. You know, I'd get a ride to school and she'd get a few minutes to witness to me. She kept inviting me to her church and talking about her conversion and Jesus and blahblahblah, which just kept making me think about all the things that made me uncomfortable about religion. She even managed to sneak one of her crappy religious "mystery" novels into our extra credit book discussion group for English. Finally, she forced The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel on me. It pissed me off so much that when she wouldn't take it back, I went home and tore the stupid thing up. I ended up reading a bit as I worked and got even more outraged. All of the so-called evidence was so dumb and ridiculous I couldn't believe it actually helped in converting her. Needless to say, our friendship was strained after that. I eventually accepted an invitation to her church a few weeks before graduation. We went, I remained a hopeless nonbeliever, and she never talked to me again. I guess I should have accepted earlier!

There are a billion other reasons that I'm an atheist, obviously. Most of them are more intellectually sound than "I wanted to piss off the person who pretended to be my friend to 'save' me." Still, I think my friend deserves some credit in shaping my militant baby-eating fundamentalist atheism.
We were raised Catholic but we did not go to church very often. Holidays maybe, plus every now and then when my mother started to feel guilty. I'm sure I believed in God then, but I never understood the point of religion or specifically the Catholic liturgy. The big stumbling point for me and the god of the Bible, was an inability to accept that an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god would demand under penalty of torture, that we worship him and even more so HOW we worship him. To me that sounded like ego and nothing more and not really something worth worshiping. I didn't really think about it all that much beyond that until College when I completely and easily rejected Christianity. I still vacillated between believing in a higher power and being agnostic until early 30's or so. I toyed around with eastern philosophies and paganism, even came up with my own little theory of what the higher power was. These explorations were mainly because I couldn't at the time give up the idea of a soul and purpose. I felt very wishy-washy however, until finally I just decided that I was being silly and that I didn't believe at all. Even at that point I was more apathetic than not, I would never have joined a group like this or spoken up to religious bigots. It wasn't until I had kids and realized that I needed to figure out how to raise (hopefully) freethinker children that I started becoming more active and out as an atheist.
I was always much more frightened of pissing off Father Christmas than upsetting god. I remember as a very young kid being terrified I wouldn't get any presents when I chuckled at a picture my brother drew of Santa farting. This fear was prolonged when, in my pursuit of truth, I drew up a contract on christmas eve asking for a signature from Santa, and a reindeer footprint as a cosign, in return for my eternally good behaviour. I awoke to find the document signed in a very convincing manner by both parties. I guess my mum had me over a barrel on that one.

I went to a church of England primary school (for you non-brits, that's age 7 to 11), not because my parents were christian, my dad is a tree hugging pagan, but because it was the only school nearby that hadn't been condemned (by the council, not by the lord). It wasn't one of your modern evolution denying, science fearing, evangelising fundie christian schools, the only real sign was there would be a prayer each morning and before we went home, and occasional visits from singing nuns (which isn't as great as hollywood would have you believe).

I was never convinced by the Jesus stories and I was outspoken about my disbelief, and even reduced a particularly religious boy to tears in the playground with my "Cmoooon, it's obviously not true!" arguments. Incidentally, he now runs an anti capitalist, anti fundamentalist web magazine...

At age 9 I chose to be baptised, but I can honestly say, hand on heart, that it was because I saw a friend get loads of presents and a party after his baptism. Pretty cynical of me I know, but it worked a treat. I even had to think up some great reasons as to why I wanted to be baptised, other than wanting the latest Super Mario Brothers game, when the vicar came to our house to speak to me. He said at the service "This is a particularly special baptism because the child has chosen by himself to join the lord's family." And I thought "Just splash my head already so we can get out of here and I can cash in from my newly adopted godparents and have some cake."

So. A dark godless past for me. The options were, as I saw them, believe nothing, or be sure I was the antichrist. I still fear Santa's wrath to this day.
I would get baptised for presents, or just cash.... ;)
Me too! My mother asked me and my brother if we wanted to be baptised in the methodist church..We both declined...Now,if presents and loot had been in the offing...But no...My mother was not much on bribery...Too bad.
My mother offered me like $400 (I'm serious) to complete this LDS Girl's packet called "Personal Progress", that's something like the Boy Scouts eagle program only pointless, but I've been declining because the Personal Progress makes me want to vomit and insults me as a woman and a thinker. It seems like every subject begins with "read these scriptures" and ends with "now think about your role as a housewife".

Still, that kind of money is nothing to scoff at.
I grew up a Catholic. A very liberal Catholic, but a Roman Catholic nonetheless. As far as I can remember, it was never pushed down my throat. My parents never really spoke to me or my sister about god. But then, I suppose that was what church was for.

I did go to CCD at an early age. Was Joseph in a Nativity Scene in first grade. Had my first communion, joined the church choir and was confirmed when I was 18.

Then I went to college. Uh oh! This is where I was corrupted by the evil liberal establishment, isn't it!? Well, no. I am a very straightedge guy. Part of that is just being an introvert (or socially inept, either way). I never smoked, never did any drugs, had no sex (thank you social ineptness) and didn't have my first beer until I was 3 months shy of my 21st birthday. On top of that, I've only been drunk once in my life, and then not terribly.

I tell you all of this to point out that my turn to atheism wasn't some attempt at rebellion. Not that this is the group I need to tell that to.

It happened, at least in part, thanks to Penn Jillette. I started listening to his radio show, and his occasional references to atheism got me thinking. Did I really believe in Catholicism? Did I really think Jesus was god? Did I believe in a god at all?

As funny as it is I had lived most of my life and never asked the question "Do I believe this?" It was just taken for granted. I had one side of my brain devoted to reason, after all I was still a liberal in almost every respect, and the other side was my faith. They didn't touch each other.

But I decided to sit down, and think about it.

For a while I became, at least in my head, a Unitarian Universalist. Although I didn't know there was a word for it.

I still believed in a god, but I imagined that no one got it right. All the different religions were worshiping god, but just a god that showed himself in the best way for those people to believe.

Slowly, after more thinking and more research, I realized how silly that was. I was an atheist. I didn't believe in any of this nonsense. It didn't effect my life, it didn't scare me anymore, and I didn't have to believe it to appease anyone.

I've shared this with some of my family. If I'm ever asked directly, I will tell the truth. But we didn't talk much about god before, so it may be a while before I come out to everyone. Still, I'm not hiding. I'm a YouTube atheist, I talk about the subject a lot with friends and coworkers (though never in work), and I have 'atheism' as my 'religion' on facebook. And, of course, I've joined here.

That story was supposed to be why I'm an atheist. It seems more like a little biography. Though it feels good to share it, it doesn't really answer the question. So I will now.

I'm an atheist because there's no evidence for god. At least no evidence I've ever come across. And I've decided to live my life based on the evidence, for good or ill.

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