As weird as it is, I think it was the attitude of my former "fellow" Christians that started me on the road to doubt. Even though I've got a bachelors in Physics and have generally held a belief in evolution and big bang cosmology for most of the believing stage of my life, it really wasn't science that brought up questions(cognitive dissonance at its best). I think I've always generally never had a connection with anyone in any church I had ever attended. Mainly since most Christians, especially in the south, are non-intellectuals. But I think it really started when I began listening to extreme metal. I couldn't understand how anyone could look down on something that I loved so much and felt so natural to listen to. I can't tell you how many people have told me that its "the devils music"(even though most of the lyrics are socio-political).

Of course later on I did my research and discovered how ridiculous my former beliefs were. So who or what started you on your path to disbelief?

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I've always been one to question things. The questioning started with the sexism in the bible (among other  things). The bible is a most horrid book. And then I noticed the way Xtians behave. They do what they please and behave badly and then go to church and get absolution from it.

Then they continue about their business. Then they believe those crazy fairy tales.

I am educated in science and don't believe that nonsense.

Athianarchist, I've always been skeptical about claims of the supernatural. Things just didn't fit when someone would tell me they saw a ghost or had a vision or witnessed a miracle. I was raised quasi-religious, but thankfully my father was/is a non-believer and both parents never really forced anything on me. They let me discover things on my own. Any exposure to religious people was always weird. So I never really jumped into it with both feet.

What solidified my non-belief, and even disgust, was the 'Boxing Day Tsunami" of 2004. This devastating, natural disaster made me understand that no supreme being would ever allow that many people, including children, to die. Nothing supremely benevolent could exist.
I've said before that I first remember doubting at the age of 8, in the mormon church, after my "high priest" father laid his hands on my head and said "Receive ye the holy ghost.", and I felt nothing.
However, I'm starting to think that it may have been before that because I've always loved science, and that may have started me thinking and doubting at an early age.
Hard to say, as I don't remember a lot about my youth, but I do remember as a teenager thinking that logically either only one religion was true or none were.
I imagine a lot of you will wonder why it took me 60 years to completely throw-off the shackles of religion, given that I loved science all my life. Well, I wonder myself. I do see three things that may have been factors:
#1: I was thoroughly brainwashed into the cult of mormonism. I was taken to church every week, starting as a baby.
#2: My parents were kind and loving, so I had no reason to doubt them for a long time.
#3: FEAR: Although mormonism doesn't teach a literal fire & brimstone hell, they do teach that there is a finite time (a period of time less than 1000 years, depending on the seriousness of your sins), in which you will be in horrible mental torment looking for the just wrath of god to come upon you because of your sins, and that fear will be just as horrible as literal fire & brimstone.
There is also the fear of not being worthy to inherit the highest heaven where your righteous loving parents and siblings are, and where there will be eternal learning, along with other desirable things. Things you will never be able to obtain, throughout all eternity.
Thinking about what you're missing for eternity is a very real hell and causes a great deal of fear, especially given the fact that there are so many things required of you that it absolutely seems impossible to ever be righteous enough to reach the highest, desirable heaven.
I was also programed to believe that questioning the church allows satan to gain control of me, and deceive me into thinking I know the truth when I don't. That was the final fear that I overcame at about the age of 60.

When I was about 10 a friend died during unnecessary surgery.  Somebody -- my Sunday school teacher? -- wondered aloud whether he was in a state of grace at the moment of his death.  If so, he was already in heaven.  If not?  Well, he would already be in hell for all eternity.  I thought "What kind of god would do something that disgusting to a kid?  For that matter, how would anybody deserve that kind of treatment?"  This was about the end of World War II.  Should that happen to Hitler?  If anybody deserved it, he would.  But I couldn't consign even him to such a fate.  Therefore, hell is a fraud.  My other choice would have been to see that, if hell was allowed to exist, then god was a fraud.  I wasn't ready for that yet.

My Dad is a Pentecostal minister and we grew up in a few VERY Evangelical churches. Lots of speaking in tongues, laying on of hands, "dig deep to donate to God", if it's not of God it's of The Devil, End of Days stuff.

I was exposed to a lot of people having very intense emotional reactions from a lot of adults being "moved by the holy spirit" type stuff and I noticed that never once, did I feel what they felt. I never heard the voice of the lord. Never felt moved to tears or compelled by any unseen force to do anything. Even when everyone  around me was clearly sharing an experience, I was just a kid in the middle of it.

Whenever I talked to my Dad about it he just said to pray on it and to try harder to listen to The Lord.

I prayed, I read, I studied, I questioned, I got in trouble for asking questions and not accepting "because God" as an answer.

By about 14 I had sorted out that whatever it was that let people experience God, I just didn't have it. It took another 15 years or so or reading, studying, questioning every religion I could get my hands on to eventually sort out that it's all man made.

I started to doubt while in a Catholic school religion class. When a nun told me that when someone hurts me I should turn the other cheek, I was telling myself I had only two cheeks.

Years later I edited that. For a woman I really like, I have four cheeks.

For me it was bit by bit: understanding that the Bible did, in fact, contradict itself and that these contradictions were real, not just "apparent." Realizing that some of the stories, Job in particular, could not be literally true and still be describing a good and just God. Moving on to recognize that the diversity of human language did not begin at the Tower of Babel. There was no worldwide flood. Genetics teaches us that it takes longer than Noah's ark to bring us back to a common ancestor (why do we not know the name of Noah's wife, considering that we are all descended from her? You would think her name would be more widely known). Man was on earth long before the Adam and Eve story would have taken place.

Once you recognize Adam and Eve as a myth, the whole notion of Christ's sacrifice becomes impossible to accept as a necessity. And then you realize just how non-credible the resurrection story really is. BAM! You're done.

That's how it was for me, anyway.

I think I simply was lucky - there was no aha! moment.

I was born a non-theist and managed through chance and temperament to reject indoctrination.  As a child, and much to the embarrassment of my parents, I was asked on two different occasions not to return to Sunday school until I stopped asking inconvenient questions and laughing at the "lessons."  It never took root.  

They sort of gave up on me after round two.

Haha!  Inconvienient questions = Religion's greatest enemy.

Apart from a brief 6 month period in my life in 4th form (age 14) where i was for a year converted to Christianity by some really hot Christian rock musicians (Y1) that came to my school (apparently even fundamentalist Christians know that sex sells!) Before and after this i never really believed or just doubted but considered myself “Anglican“ because that's what I was raised as. In the last 20 years of my life i have not believed in the bible at all and in the last 3years have come out openly as an atheist to my family and peers.

I went to a Catholic boarding school - boys only. Did the religious instruction, etc. - was going to be a priest but only because when you are surrounded by it, it seems like the right thing to do. Had a great deal of fun (out in the bundu - bush to you guys overseas) and was a reasonably good little Catholic - not a great education but think that was my fault! Being around the priests and brothers you start observing their not so christian behaviour and start questioning things. Then the whole confession idiocy became apparent. Confessing to someone you didn't respect that much - weird! Then confessing that you had sworn, etc. when you knew you weren't going to stop. What a waste of time. And when I had the chance to experience sex, I knew I was going to like it and no rules were going to stop me. Realised then and there it was all a pointless exercise. It has been uphill ever since. Cheers

I was very lucky in that my parents were very cool and relaxed about all things religious.  My father's an atheist and my mother doesn't really care about spiritual stuff so, I was privileged in that respect.

As a child I was a massive reader and loved reading books of all kinds.  Aged about 10, I read a book about bible stories (Samson and Delilah, David and Goliath, Adam and Eve, etc) and found it fascinating.  Naturally, I thought because I liked the stories, and from some indoctrination at my school, that I was a "Christian".  Although I never went to church or anything, I did pray occasionally.

Aged 14 or 15, I was in a religious education lesson at school, about heaven and hell.  I asked the question, "Who decides who goes to heaven and who goes to hell?"  The teacher said, "St Peter's at the gates, and he decides".  Having a logical mind, I responded with a barrage of questions like, "So what if someone does something with good intentions, but it has bad consequences?  What if someone has a mental illness, do they get an automatic pass?" and so on... The teacher just eventually told me they'd have a discussion with me after the lesson!  That was when I realised just didn't make sense, it wasn't logical.

About a year later, I read the God Delusion, and that cemented my beliefs (or lack of them!).

An interesting question and I've loved reading all the responses!


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