I was born a skeptic. Youngest of 4, I was the only one of my siblings who couldn't hear the reindeer on the roof or see the easter bunny fleeing into the woods. In middle school when we started learning about government, I fell in love with the bill of rights. In high school I wrote essays about the separation of church and state. I had a difficult time in college making friends, and I fell in with a group of people who "practiced" past-life regression and witchcraft. It was fun and exciting for a while, but the novelty wore off and I began dating a man who was a die-hard atheist. My lack of Christian training (Sunday school drop out at age 7) is probably what delayed my realization that I did not beleive in god. My boyfriend taught me about the bible, we had many discussions. At that point I rejected Christianity, but still, for many years I wanted to beleive in SOMETHING. Especially after 9-11, being so close to NYC, I desperately wanted the comfort of religion, and felt very isolated. I was afraid of death and wanted to beleive there was something more. After some time, I began to realize that wishing for another life was a waste of time, and that I needed to start making the most of this life I have right now. I can't say that I'm comforted in my beleifs, but I would rather live in reality than to waste my days praying and deluding myself and my kids.
Atheist parents. One is gnostic atheist, one is agnostic atheist. Lived whole life in British Columbia, the least religious part of North America. Highly educated, widely read. Interested in history, but also knowledgable about comparative religion, university level anthropology and biology. No personal traumas in life. Adequate family and social network to deal with any potential emotional issues. Financially comfortable. Loving wife and great children.
Add that all up, likelihood of belief in gods or religions is statistically almost zero. My children are not being given a "fair and balanced" view of religion(s) which many people seem to espouse out of a misplaced sense of fairness, though they are being given a thorough explanation of comparative religions, to emphasise their human origins. They are being given an honest and factual explanation of what religion is, what type of people invent them, what type of people use them to control others, what evidenced-based opinion is, etc. As a result, the chance they will be religious is virtually nil. And that is not something I will apologise for. I'm not going to teach my kids both sides of racism, or totalitarianism, or anything else that is evil or wrong . . . why would I do so with "faith", the only vice that the majority of people are still deluded enough to consider a virtue?
My father was never religious when I was growing up, my mother dident seem to be but I soon found out she was just sneaky about it. When I told her I dident like my elementry school (it was christian although it was more about the school sucking) she said we could look at a few schools. so 5 christian schools later we saw a schools musical. Surfing Santa. Looking back all I remember is the Sunglasses the kids wore. So I was in Stepping Stones Academy for about a year before I did the Unthinkable. I asked the teacher why people lived so much longer back in bible times. seems simple enough? I mean no medical knowledge at all, and people lived in excess of 10 times as long? My reason for asking? my Grandfather had just died of Pancrieatic cancer. The teacher interperated it as me Questioning the word of god and had my mother come pick me up. When I tried to tell her what happened she initaly felt bad for me, but the more I talked the more questions I kept asking her the more she took it as signs of me drifting away from the church.
A few months after this I was taken out of this school and placed in a new school. Cornerstone Christian. This was a more, ahem, serious school. At this time I was in 4th grade, the tender age of 9. and During recess we went play kickball, I remember the kid who was "pitching" or whatever it is in kickball was taking forever, in a 30 minuite recess this just woulden't due for me. So I told him to hurry up, he yelled back that he was praying before every pitch. I told him that was dumb, cue my first fight, it was more hug-wrestling then anything. But when the principal heard the other kids side of the story my fate was sealed. So they just jumped me a grade and I started public school in 5th grade.
I remained in public school for the remainder of my schooling. however my mind was made up from 6th grade. When we first learned about evolution, or atleast I first learned about it. After a few days of hearing about it I asked my parents, more specificaly my father. Who told me that it was the theory that was going to kill christianity. when I asked him why, he said because Christianity already wrote its own history, and the only proof of christianity, is christianity. I had a hard time wrapping my head around this, because I had for a while not belived every story in the bible, recognized alagory and such. But to hear that was shocking. Not to say that it sculpted all my ideas from then on but it echos in my mind whenever I talk to a hardcore christian.
I was 15 when I exposed my mind to my mother, who had given up apeasing my father and was going to church twice a week and helping the church type leaflets. She was
appauled at first and woulden't speak to me for days afterwards. When I finaly got her to talk to me she questioned what had given me the idea, who had told me these things. and when I explained myself (My real final straw was my acting teacher, who is still the best teacher ive ever had, telling us about jesus stealing Dianisuse's party trick) she was ready to go to the schoolboard but I convinced her that pushing back would only put more space between us. since then we have developed a healthy relationship. Unfortunatly for me, and my father I suppose, he began to go to church when his mother went into the hospital, and has been going since. A relapse a faith. I think he turned to it for the same reason it grew out of the muck of the peasants. To try and sway the things we cannot controll in our favor.
I have stoutly religious [Catholic] parents; Victoria and I, I'm sure, disappoint them greatly in our disbelief. Vic is agnostic, but a closet one, who got angry with me when I 'blabbed' her doubt. *shrug* Oops?
Mother is the loudest Catholic, the church organist. Father converted from Baptism [I do believe] to marry her. I read Pharyngula, though I shy from calling myself a Pharyngulite, as I am not that in-the-know with Biology. Plus I have read many philosophical treatises, although I don't know what to claim developed my Atheism. Dawkins helped, and Hitchens, although I wasn't so fond of reading what he had to say
In short, I grew up a closet Agnostic, only Catholic in name, and then turned into a closet Atheist when I turned 18, since I felt adult and therefore old enough to declare my beliefs, even if I didn't declare them loudly. I took an Ethics course at University. When I came home from the hospital after surviving a car accident with most of my marbles, I declared Atheism to my parents, making mother cry. But what could she do?
I'm not sure if I recalled this differently somewhere else... Also, I have given up not giving the religious beliefs capital letters, it's an extremely difficult habit to break.
I tried to 'get religion' for a good bit of my life - I tried, i *really* tried. It seemed like people who had it were comforted by it, and there was the benefit of getting to think dead people weren't really dead, seemed like that would be a handy thing to cling to in tragedies and whatnot. But I just couldn't muster the whole blind faith thing, so I lapsed quietly into not believing, and feeling vaguely uncomfortable whenever nice people asked for prayers.
Then I discovered the wonderful community of atheists / humanists on the internet, and "came out" publicly as an atheist. I am happy to know you all :)
My parents sent me to church as a kid and I did the whole baptism thing, but inside I just could not believe what I was being told. As I got older, I always knew that I was an atheist, but always kept quiet for fear of backlash. Now I'm loud and proud. I have a Masters Degree in Education and am a teacher. I am not shy about it anymore. My husband is divorced from an apostolic pentecostal woman and their kids go to that church. It has been a struggle, but I am hoping that common sense and intelligence will prevail. Only time will tell..
Then one day someone told me about Jesus (state religious education!!!) and I couldn't help laughing. Nor could my junior primary friends. The logical inconsistency was obvious to all but one of us - the kid who said "yeah, Jesus is stupid. Hell has discos and hot chicks and I wanna go there." - That wasn't me.
I got home and told my mum. She said "religion is a crutch for the weak", which I thought was a bit unfair because some of my apparently religious-labelled friends didn't seem weak. I wasn't in the habit of believing in something just because an adult told me.
I see now that perhaps I should do another post on how I became one. I'll probably get to that next weekend. I love to think the short answer is: "I was born", but it's not. I was thinking about the many fun arguments with a a friend of mine at the pub in my early twenties. He was a raging, flat out atheist, I was pretty much agnostic at the time. I think I always was agnostic. When I was really young, I fervently wanted to believe there was a god but I never really did.
What pushed me over the edge from agnosticism to atheism was probably a combination of my conversations with my friend and serious critical thinking and what sealed the deal forever was reading The God Delusion.
Oh, and I was baptised methodist, attended baptist youth and was confirmed in the dutch reformed church.
I'm post religion. I remember attending church as a young adult in the 80's and hating the "preaching"...the way the pastor had us all in a position where no discussion or debate could take place. We were the proverbial "captive audience" in the congregation. And I was upset about the concept of sin...for example, the idea that infants were born into the world "sinful and unclean" and the idea that women were "servants" and victims....I remember thinking about how unfair that seemed.
Now I know those ideas are not true facts. They are cultural fabrications. They are meant to produce fear and servitude in the community. And I certainly now know that religion can be a debatable subject matter! (Which is enjoyable and entertaining, don't you agree?!) I'm glad to be a skeptic and to "break the spell" religion had over me as a child.