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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Apatheist family, although my mother is what I could call the conveniently religious opportunist on occasion. This meant she would drag the family off to church when she wanted to impress someone. This happened maybe once every few months, and it was always a disaster. Usually thanks to something I would do. I was always scared and either too hot or too cold (days before climate control).

Anyway, religion wasn't a part of most of my childhood. For 5th grade, however, I was sent to a Lutheran school, and I got my first real exposure to Christianity, mostly through the religious classes we had to endure every. Bloody. Day.

I was doing my homework for that one evening, we were studying the Ten Commandments, and I came across this explanation for what the commandment about no other god before me was supposed to be about: "God is a jealous God."

I froze. This wasn't right. All my life, authority figures, especially my mother and grandparents, had taught me that jealousy was bad, bad, bad! Jealousy was actively discouraged. Yet my religion teachers were saying that 1) I needed to be like Jesus, who was God on earth for a while, yet 2) that perfect God was jealous. To be like God, wouldn't I need to be jealous--going against the wishes of people another commandment said I was supposed to honor? Or...was it possible my mom was right...and God was wrong...?

It didn't take long to find other examples of things that didn't make sense.

So the choice of atheism was simply a matter of plain old logic in my case.
For me, it started when I was in elementary school. My family regularly took us to Sunday school and 'big church' afterwards. Naturally inquisitive, I often asked the Sunday school teacher questions about the lesson and our Christian practices. When she wanted me to shut up she would simply reply, "because God said so." That, of course, did not satisfy me, but I went along with it because that's how my parents raised me.

Well, one day, in the middle of our closing prayer, I realized something and interrupted the prayer with a single question. The question was, "If God lives up in Heaven, and the Devil down in Hell, why do bow our heads and talk to the Devil when we pray?" She couldn't answer my question. So, she hushed me up and we went on with the prayer.

The general atmosphere of the church and its community never seemed right to me. However, I was never taught that not believing in a god was possible. It was Christianity or nothing.

Then, one night when I was in Middle School, George Carlin's special was on T.V. My dad, a closet atheist, convinced me to sit down and watch one part of it.

The Ten Commandments, George Carlin.

This one speech, if you will, by Carlin seemed to confirm everything for me. It was relieving to know that somewhere, out there, there were people who suspected the same thing that I did and that I was not alone.

Shortly after that, I 'came out' and denied by parent's and the community's God, Trinity, all that jazz. It wasn't terribly dramatic, but my mother believed that it was just a phase I was going through, or that I could be healed by, you guessed it, going to church more often. It, of course, didn't work, so after a while my mom gave up. She wouldn't try again until High School.

Of course, I wasn't accepted by my peers anymore. I was very loud about my atheism in middle school, a silly move when you live in a small community guided by church. I was called names such as "devil worshiper," "witch," and was constantly asked by others to go to church with them. It hurt, but it didn't bother me. I wasn't going to be taunted back to the pupil.

Anyway, by high school I was already a proclaimed atheist. My mother had had enough and decided that I needed to go to church again. I fought it, stating various reasons, the biggest being that I simply did not believe in God. After some shouting, my parents came to the agreement that I would attend church for x amount of weeks. It was hellish, but I made sure to question everything that poor teacher said. After the time was up I still remained unfaithful and told my mom that the deal was over and she was not allowed to ask me again.

So, I guess it all boils down to personal reasons. I came out after learning that atheism was a real option and went from there. I still face alot of hatred, ignorance and bigotry, but I'm prepared to stand up for my lack of belief.

(Sorry for the long reply.)
I used to be the good little Baptist; church every Sunday, Wednesday, and all summer long, "Vacation" bible 'School." When I got to the age where I needed things to make sense, god didn't. I think that the bible actually converted me; remember the story of Job? I remember thinking, "This is a terrible thing to do for no reason at all." It proved to me the contradiction of a omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient diety-Why would god need to prove that someone loved him? I took this to a few other well known stories from the book; i.e., The Seven Plagues, the Flood, the exile from Eden. Even if it were proven to me, i think I'd have a hard time worshipping that seemed to embody all of the worst parts of humanity. So, I asked for clarification, and was told not to question god's will. This seemed like such a ridiculously easy out, and I realized that if it were applied to anything other than a god, it would be scoffed at. So, I stopped trying to rationalize what isn't rational. And then I got angry- how could such a crooked establishment not only get away with the unadultered hate that they teach as dogma, but also call it love?
I was raised Roman catholic, I don't think I ever truly bought into it, though I can say that I certainly tried to convince myself.

The thing that made me decide that christianity was not for me was one night I was at a church youth group meeting and in our discussion, the woman who led the meetings said how the bible said that all animals were put on earth for our (humans') use. I don't think I had a really good understanding of evolution at the time, but I knew enough to know that there's nothing really special about humans, we're animals just the same as monkeys, dogs, etc. It didn't make sense that a perfect god would play favourites among the species.

At that point, I still hadn't given up on the idea religion or god(s), so I spent quite a bit of time looking into other religions to see what made sense. Looking back, the religions that seemed to make the most sense were the ones that had the least to say about the supernatural: things like buddhism.

After all this inspection into other religions, I pretty much just came up with my own religious beliefs that had basically a deist/agnostic view on the issue of god. That was the basis for my thoughts on religion through most of high school and about half of college.

In college, I became good friends with a guy who was in a lot of the same classes and clubs on campus. It may sound strange, but he was really the first atheist that I ever met; at least he was the first atheist who identified himself as such to me (I grew up in the rural midwest United States). Until then, I never really considered atheism as a valid postion. After talking with him about religion for not very long, everything just made sense and I realized I'd been an atheist for a while, I just didn't know it or didn't want to admit it.
I was brought up in a catholic family of Irish descent so there were not only a lot in my immediate family (5 siblings), but there are numerous aunts, uncles and cousins too. The majority of my extended family and 3 of my immediate family are still practicing catholics. When my mum was alive, she was the most ardent. That said she and my dad brought us up to question the world around us. I was about 10 when I started doubting the existence of god and no more than 13 when I railed against my entire family and refuted the existence of god.

I am scientifically minded and could find no evidence to support the possibility of a deity and moreover a lot of evidence to see the negative effects of belief. I could cite innumerable reasons why I am a confirmed atheist, but the main one is there is no evidence for a god. I find the believers support for god fatuous and ill-conceived and it does make my day when they try to convince me they're right. Although a world without faith would be 'heavenly', I quite like having people to argue with.
what spurred you to question your former beliefs and become an atheist.

In my case it was simple - I could no longer reconcile the findings of science (especially evolutionary biology and cosmology) with the teachings of Christianity. As I have stated on another forum - religion and Christianity in particular are a detriment to reason and wonder. Rationality is beautiful.
Hello. My first post here.

I was raised as a Catholic - not any sort of fundy, hard-core type, just your typical church on Sunday thing. Pretty much as far back as I can remember, none of the religion I learned in church ever made any sense to me. I had always been fascinated with science and science fiction from an early age - from the time my Dad took me to see 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Cinerama Done in Hollywood. I was about 6. I loved it and was enthralled with it; the space ships, the black obelisks, the stars in space, the psychedelic light show at the end, all of it. Of course I didn't understand it then but, I sure was enchanted by it. That, I think, is probably where it started for me. As I grew older and started learning more and more science, the scientific explanations of the how, what, and why of the world were what made sense to me, not fairy tales. Science and technology has fascinated me ever since.

Now in my mid-forties, I have seen nothing whatsoever that in any way shape or form leads me to think that religion is nothing more than mass delusion and everything to think that there is only a material universe. Just look at the advances and successes of science vs. what religion has contributed towards knowledge of the universe. It's a pretty stark contrast.

I definitely fall into the Richard Dawkins/Chris Hutchison/PZ Myers school of atheism. I have seen very little that religion contributes that is positive in this world and a lot of negative; superstition, intolerance, hate, ignorance - all that leads to people doing a lot of very bad things to other people. I have little deference or regard towards people's silly, stupid, childish beliefs in magic sky daddies, monsters, and other magical nonsense. It makes for great movies (and job opportunities for me in making that stuff up for the movies), but not much good for understanding the real world.

That's it in a nutshell for me.
Well, my family is Muslim (extremely non- practicing, to the point where they might as well be agnostic), so as a young child, that was pretty much what I was. Around two years ago, when I was 13, and I actually started developing opinions of my own, I decided that I was agnostic, and at 14 I finally realized that I was actually atheist.

I've always been a scientific person and between that and all of the contradictory evidence in holy books against God that I had read in articles on the internet, it didn't take me long for me to find myself subscribing to atheism.
My mother was raised sort of christian, even though her mother seems more secretly hindu to me than christian. My father wasn't raised as anything, I think the whole part of that family are carebears when it comes to religious belief.

I'm baptized, as most people where I live - but it's very rarely because of religious beliefs, it's about the "tradition" to most. People find the christian traditions more appealing, even though they don't believe in them. My parents never cared about my religious beliefs, and at the age of 16 I resigned myself from the state church (which I automaticly become a member of when I become baptized).

I've considered becoming a member of The Humanist Association, but I don't feel I need a "hook" where I can hang my life.
I've grown up without knowing anything about god an believe, until I went to primary school. In Germany the church and the state have a pact to teach religions at schools and I had to visit this subject. I've never loved it and asked questions, nobody wanted to answer. I had to visit it until the last 3 years at school. In history I learnd that religion is only maked to control people, to break men, to have an unquestionable reason to kill someone other ('my god told me to kill them and them ...'). I didn't have to become an atheist, I just stayed what I was. But now asking more questions

I hope you understand what I wanted to say.
I never had any religious beliefs to spur. I was raised in a semi-religious family, but I had problems with the veracity of the things I heard from very early on, and can never remember a time that I believed in any kind of supernatural higher power. When I was around 30 I quit being afraid to say I had never believed and admitted publicly that I was an atheist. (Not too long before I admitted I was a lesbian)
I suppose I'm in the minority that was simply never religious. My religious education ceased at my baptism, though I'm not sure why my parents even bothered with that much. My parents never even tried to pull Santa Claus or the tooth fairy on me. The bible was introduced to me (my mother had inherited an old mason's bible, complete with apocrypha) as a piece of ancient literature, not as a source of fact.

It was quite a shock when I finally collided with children who really believed in those things. It simply hadn't occurred to me that there were people who didn't recognize them as fairy tales.

It also didn't occur to me that there might be reasons to keep my lack of belief quiet until well after everyone knew.

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