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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Everyone in mega church had different views/positions on god and what he wanted.  Making their personal relationship selfish and about them. I lived in south and wondered why blacks/whites went to different churches. I dated a few girls in church and they were always drama queens or looking for a 10 with money. I wondered why friends only came about during church meetings. I felt unwanted and started seeing people in masks at church.  Cartoonish and animated.  The girl i was dating told me to pray about our relationship..she said god told her to stop dating me while god told me it was right.  And she was insecure about her weight.  Nothing appeared to be in control or one accord. I started doubting a personal god. growing up in a mormon family divided by JW's hate.then me being born again and hated..i realized after 911 how phony christianity is. Then internet educated me once i came to conclusion there were issues.  After claiming being an atheist, i saw more hate toward me..which grew my atheism. My doubt turned to confimation there are no gods.  I understand my presumption of gods was making me a believer.

When I was a teenager, I grew-up in a northern city. Most people in the part of the city I grew-up in were Catholic, and I'd gone to church a couple of times with friends, and had befriended some nuns in a convent close by. My family was nominally Baptist (or, at least my father was), but church was never mentioned, or visited.

When my father passed away, I was sent to live with distant relatives in the Deep South. I joined the Catholic Church, mostly because I missed my friends, and it was a way to relive something that had given me happy memories. My Baptist relatives were very incensed that I'd done this: Catholics were the Anti-Christ! They made me go to their Church, Sunday School, Wednesday bible study, and every revival within traveling range. One Sunday, when the church music began to play that marked the point in the show when you go up to the front, and let everyone know you've decided to dedicate your life to Christ, my aunt glanced over at me angrily, and pointed to the front of the church, in a way that was meant to convey that there would be trouble if I didn't go up to be baptised.

I still continued to go to the local Catholic church, so my relatives 'sicced' the preacher on me. They had a lot of faith in him, because he'd actually been to a seminary: most Baptist preachers just decide one day that they're a preacher, and *voila*, they are! He came over every single day after school, to 'save' me from the evils of being a Catholic. I really had to bone-up on my theology, in order to counter his jousts, thrusts and parries. After a while, I began to think this: that if there were a supreme being, who has existed all through time, then wouldn't the many cultures all report its characteristics the same way? I mean, there has always been a sun throughout the ages of humankind, and it pretty much has been reported as being 'full of light, and hot.' Why would a being that is unchanging through time, be described as being -- and behaving -- in so many ways that conflict with each other? As I learned more about logic, I came to realize that either one of these conflicting views is right, and the others are all wrong, or else they're *all* wrong! Those are the only two logical choices. And, since a divine, omnipotent being would have no trouble letting anyone know its *true* nature, than they must *all* be wrong!

This started me on the road to atheism. I haven't talked to any of those relatives for about 20 years, because their belif is that a person who is not a xian must have no moral compass, and is capable of the worst villainy.

But, on the whole, I'm definately happier now.
Real solutions to social problems come from reality-based perspectives. Evolutionary theory is pushing the envelope on everything, including what we know about criminal behavior and effective solutions. For me, it's all about what works.

Unanswered prayers, hypocritical theists, my step-dad dying of cancer, my dad currently dying of cancer, and working in a cancer center. I have no doubt that I've made the right choice in leaving Christianity. Importantly, my wonderful atheist husband, who calmly and lovingly challenged my beliefs and asked me to honestly look into what and why I believed what I did.

I was sitting at the bar (and feeling very guilty, I must say) and a lovely atheist friend who was also a PhD in Philosophy was discussing his own reasons that he was not a christian, despite having been raised in a christian community.  He said that he didn't understand why a god would tell people not to do the things that he had created them to do, such as "don't eat this pretty apple" or "don't have sex."  Why put the option there in the first place as a "test?"  I remember giving my "trained" responses, since I had taken sunday school classes to learn how to respond to questions such as these.  

In that moment, as the words involving theological explanations for the fall of man began to emerge from my lips, I realized that I was curious about that question too.  Suddenly, this very intelligent friend, who was far more "moral" than most of my evangelical peers, helped me to realize that it was okay to think.  Prior to this, I feared such questions and looked for pat answers that sounded intellectual.  I decided that I would permit myself, at least temporarily, to entertain the fact that god might not really exist.  It took another seven years to completely embrace atheist, but that first step was critical.  

Welcome, cbenhamcox.

I envy your permitting yourself to entertain the fact that god might not really exist. After 12 years in Catholic schools and their daily doses of dogma, I wasn't able to permit myself that freedom. But that was long ago and I have enjoyed decades of freedom. I hope you enjoy your freedom at least as much.

Nice bit of opening up of your own mind cbenhamcox in light of questioning.  It was something I have been prone to doing since the age of eight, when my parents purchased a full (massive) set of Chambers Encyclopaedia and a Science Encyclopaedia set.  I started researching those from the moment they were placed in the shelf, since my reading ability was already at secondary school level, I found them fascinating.  I even found the section on the history of Christianity, which was a very open minded look at Jesus Christ and even included the possibility that he may not have existed in the form purported by the New Testament since much of the stories surrounding him were created long after his death.

My parents at the time had me attending church and Sunday school, where I started to question the teacher on aspects of the silly, childish parables being taught us, to which she became rather angry at me and then completely ignored me when I would raise my hand to speak. Where she put me at the back of the class and ordered me to stay there every Sunday.

Later my parents sent me to an all male Christian boarding school where I had to attend church every Sunday and a midweek service held in the school hall which was very church like anyway.

Though I ignored most of the lessons and spent the time exchanging hand signals to an awesomely beautiful female member of the church choir. Though I was never confirmed, I still took sacrament as I liked the taste of the wine, but I hated the wafers and would peel it off my tongue later to feed to the birds outside the church.

So, you could say that I had leaned enough in my childhood to totally ignore the lessons in the church, though I did study theology for a couple of years, for two reasons, firstly, too answer the overriding question in the back of my mind of: "Is there any possible truth in Christianity's claims", which is a bit like your deciding to ponder a niggling question.  Secondly, if there was no truth in Christianity's claims, then I will have the training and knowledge to defeat them in any arguments.  Since I was often attacked by priests for my lack of adherence to and ignorance of the bible.  So I decided to fix their wagons, which I did.

I learned enough in theology classes to destroy everything the priests threw at me.

One told me that he considered me the most evil student the school had ever had.

Because I criticized his every lesson and played pranks on him, with the help of some other students, until he suffered a severe nervous breakdown and retired from teaching.

One of the pranks was to replace the Christian choir music records with rock music records and swap the labels over.  This upset him greatly!  LOL!

Though I did join a Pentecostal church a few years after leaving school to give up smoking, where I did exactly the same, learned enough of their theology to be a threat to the organization,  after I worked out that the Holy Spirit doesn't stop people smoking, nor does it make people speak in tongues.

I also shared accommodation with a group of Muslims and read the Koran, plus received an education on Taoism from a college room mate (trainee monk) I spent a year with.

That ended my sorties into the idiotic world of superstition/religion/Christianity.

Now I just look around for an occasional stir or do a bit of trolling of religious forums, most of which I've been banned from.

I don't think anyone needs to read religious or no religious text to see the truth. History, physics, and biology books are a wealth of factual information to make an educated decision. It is easy to question FAITH (belief without proof) but, is very difficult to argue with history, physics and biology.
I was born and raised a Methodist and spent my childhood going to church. To this day I couldn't tell you the difference between Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran or Baptist. Sunday schools that I attended were not there to teach but to enforce. When I asked questions they were rarely answered, and when I pushed the same question it was either met with punishment or threats. Looking back I wonder if anyone could believe in Christianity if it wasn't pushed on them from birth.

When I was young I believed in the bible in a literal sense.  At some point I realized that the creation story and the flood and the dates listed in the bible conflict with what we know about history.  At this point, I was told that the stories were figurative, that there wasn't an actual Adam and Eve, that Moses was like the parables.  I started to evaluate the validity of the bible and decided that it is absolutely unreliable. 

 

So I guess finding out that the bible is not true in a literal sense is what caused me to start doubting.

Mine was a saying that said something like, if god is all knowing, all powerful and does no wrong, then why did he/she/it mess up and have to start over?  Why didn't he/she/it do it right the first time?

The seeds of doubt for were first planted, in my case, in my Catholic Elementary School and even more so in Catholic High School, there were just so many inconsistencies in the teachings and hypocrisy in the instructors.  By my second year of college I was pretty much Catholic in name only although there were periods where I made a concerted effort to return. I studied all different beliefs and reached the conclusion that one single belief system couldn't be the correct one, therefore they're all wrong.  I'll go into more details in later posts..this is my first post here.  One story I'll share immediately.  When my first son was about 2 years old things just weren't right with his progress and we eventually had him evaluated.  He is moderately autistic and his IQ tests put him at mildly retarded.  It has been a challenge for my wife and I, but a couple of things well meaning and religious realtives have said really got under my skin.

"God never gives us more than we can handle" - I love this one, my usual response is something to the effect of "I guess the young guy that just jumped off the tappan zee bridge didn't know about that".

"God only gives special children to special parents" - Again, well intended, but after being in and around the community of parents with special needs or, to use words that are near forbidden in the community, mental handicaps, I can assure anyone that there are plenty of parents who basically abandon their children.

I hear these two statements made on occasion and think of a guy I knew that committed suicide because he just couldn't handle the life of being a father to such a child.

Rather than appeal to an invisible father I accepted it as something that happens in life that I have to deal with.  My son is now 18 and he's a joy, a lot of work, but he is who he is and we make the best life we can for him.  He's happy and our family is too.

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